So...IS the Singularity really near?

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#1 Edited by Iwaaan (11 posts) -

For those who don't know, the singularity is an event that many futurists claim will happen at some point in time around the year 2029. Most notably, Ray Kurzweil is a futurist and inventor who has predicted trends in technology and medicine pretty closely, starting way back in the 80s. He isn't nearly as "dead on accurate" as he claims. Case in point: He predicted we would be using nano-technology for medicinal purposes by the year 2010, and here we are....

But anyway, Kurzweil has a book (and film) about what he believes is most definitely going to happen at or around the year 2029. In it, he basically says that the Singularity is a technological explosion,one where we make more progress in the fields of biology, nanotechnology, robotics, artificial intelligence, and computer science in a 10 year time frame than we have since the beginning of humanity. From there, it just snowballs, and at some point, each and every year that goes by, we make infinitely more progress technologically as a species in that one year than we previously had since the beginning of time.

There's actually some science involved with Ray's theories, and he uses Moor's law to predict trends in technology (and uses other forms of exponential growth in other industries as an example of where we're heading in the next 20 years or so). But it gets weird...

He basically says around the year 2040, he expects us to merge, fully, with our technology. Nanobots with help keep our organs healthy, and our minds ridiculously intelligent...and, well, at some point, we'll all be able to turn into "foglets", or something like that....all of this leads into his "post human" phase, where we become more than what we currently are. Our next phase of evolution...something more than "just" human.

So...is the Singularity actually near? Or is Ray just CRAZY? I think there may be some validity to his points, but not as near as he says (or secretly hopes) it will be. There's also a ton of religious and ethical issues this would bring up (which is stupid), but I'd have to imagine this sort of stuff (fully merging with technology) would create some wars in various places around the planet.

#2 Posted by THE_DRUGGIE (24869 posts) -
#3 Edited by Masculus (2709 posts) -

He always struck me as a phony.

#4 Posted by Treflis (11186 posts) -

Doubt anything of the sort will happen as soon a 2040 or to that certain degree.

Most likely is that prostetic limbs will get more advanced and maybe there will be even more sophisticated medical procedures and equiptment at treating wounds and possible disfigurations as a result of an accident.

But would I dislike being wrong about the matter, no.

#5 Posted by comp_atkins (30749 posts) -

i don't think he's crazy, but i think his timeline is a bit too optimistic...

#6 Posted by alim298 (734 posts) -

Sure. If global warming,nuclear warheads, explosions from the sun etc. don't kill us (or at least badly damage us and our technologies). Not to mention we could run out of water, gas, uranium etc. pretty soon. So keep on dreaming Ray cruisewep.

#7 Edited by mattbbpl (10527 posts) -

What you described in the first part of the OP- From there, it just snowballs, and at some point, each and every year that goes by, we make infinitely more progress technologically as a species in that one year than we previously had since the beginning of time. - is how technology has historically progressed (aside from the dark ages, where scientific advancement was more or less shunned.

In other words, most of what he's saying isn't really controversial other than, perhaps, his assertion that we will "merge with technology, becoming more than human" or the timeframe in which we accomplish it.

I kind of hate these types of predictions, because he's almost guaranteed to be able to claim he's right in some way. Does something like Google glass fit into his definition? Would pacemakers count had they not already been in existence? What about manufactured organs? Or will his prediction be found to false unless we literally reconstruct ourselves as ephereal beings of light, a la "2001" (is this what he means by "foglets")?

#8 Posted by boonetown (59 posts) -

if the people take the power back

#9 Edited by one_plum (6084 posts) -

The year is 2029. The machines will convince us that they are conscious, that they have their own agenda worthy of our respect. They'll embody human qualities, they'll claim to be human, and we'll believe them.

#10 Posted by boonetown (59 posts) -

i think 2021

#11 Edited by -Renegade (8335 posts) -
#12 Edited by SaintLeonidas (25284 posts) -

Possibly. He isn't just making shit up with his predictions, it makes logical sense that at some point our technology will be so advanced that it will be used and able to create newer technology more advanced than itself, and so on which creates that snowball effect. His prediction of 2029 might not be too crazy. The stuff I find hard to buy is the whole "merger" idea. Ray is clearly a guy who fears death, or at least the fact that it will make him incapable of seeing the future, so he very much wants technology to reach a point in which humans become immortal. In that sense he is very much overly optimistic. I am still very skeptical about this. Though I do think it will be plausible for things such a nano-bots that can release medicines (such as insulin for diabetics) and help keep us healthier one day.

#13 Edited by Nengo_Flow (8761 posts) -

The exponential growth is real but there are too many factors... and i see it around 100 years from now, not as early are Ray does.

And it wont be anywhere near as wide spread and ease of access/use like he envisions.

I just to a course on this last semester, shit was crazy but logical and easy to see how has all come to be and the forces acting on it.

#14 Edited by 6_Dead_360s (1658 posts) -

Honestly it sounds good, but it would be hard to watch if you've already come a long way as a person, only to see everyone else suddenly be able to do everything you can in the blink of an eye because technology is boosting their brains.

...but I'm all for it. we have to embrace change and adapt. eventually we'll have to leave earth when there are no more answers to be found here.