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The Singularity


The End of History?


It began fifteen billion years ago with a light brighter than a trillion galaxies.

It began three billion years ago in a pool of muck, when a molecule made a copy of itself and so became the ultimate ancestor of all Life.

It began three million years ago, when the first human awoke to consciousness.

Ten thousand years ago with the invention of civilization.
Five hundred years ago with the invention of the printing press.
Fifty years ago with the invention of the computer.
In less than forty years, it will end.

Eliezer S. Yudkowsky



"To gain a deeper understanding of this phenomenon, there are a menagerie of singularities we may profitably consider. All are models of a process of change that accelerates to some infinite or otherwise unrecognizable, irreversible point. Briefly, the following five types of singularities are particularly illuminating.

1. Mathematical (systems of equations which lead, under certain conditions, to infinities or irreversible emergences - i.e., those hidden in the mathematics of Newton and Einstein, and uncovered by the impressive theoretical work of Mitchell, Schwarzchild, Penrose and Hawking),

2. Physical (also known as a black hole, or "cosmological" singularity, incrementally deduced by Chandrasekhar, Oppenheimer, Kerr, Salpeter, Zel'dovich, Wheeler, Penrose and Hawking, and indirectly, by our intrepid astronomical community),

3. Technological (also known as a "cognitive" singularity - and the usual meaning of the term "singularity" when used generically on this site. Proposed by Von Neumann, Good, Moravec, Vinge, Yudkowsky, Broderick and the transhumanists, and now most convincingly, Kurzweil),

4. Computational (a.k.a. an "informational" singularity, incorporating the idea of the universe-as-computer. Introduced by Turing, Von Neumann, Fredkin, Wolfram, many complexity theorists, and speculative physicists such as Tipler), and finally,

5. Developmental (involving accelerating change as an inevitable process of universal development, with elements or variations proposed by Linde, Frolov, Guth, Smolin, Rees, Gribbin, Harrison, and Smart (myself)).

Each provides valuable insights into the process of accelerating change, but I am most partial to the last, as it attempts to encompass them all within one cosmological and evolutionary developmental perspective."

John Smart - Singularity Watch


Contents


Transhumanism
Nature, Humanity and AI Harmony
Shock Level Analysis - by Michael Anissimov
Criticism and response
Links
Books
Orion's Arm - speculative worldbuilding set in a post-Singularity world




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content by M.Alan Kazlev
page uploaded 1 December 1998
page last modified 4 July 2005