Tech Talk  

The singularity is near

In mathematics, a singularity can be defined as a unique point at which a model of behaviour breaks down and becomes unpredictable.

Similarly, a technological singularity is a point at which technological growth occurs so rapidly as to become unpredictable.

A growing number of highly regarded computer scientists, mathematicians, physicists and entrepreneurs believe that the world on the verge of just such a singularity. The resulting technologies will rapidly advance our civilization beyond comprehension.

Considered by many as one of the biggest proponents of the technological singularity is computer scientist Ray Kurzweil, an inventor, author and director of artificial intelligence development at Google.

In his book The Singularity is Near, Kurzweil predicts that the development of super human artificial intelligence will occur around 2045 and almost immediately trigger this technological singularity.

At that point, humans will merge with machines, multiplying our effective intelligence a billion fold.

As wild and far fetched as this may seem, don't be too quick to discard it as science fiction. Kurzweil is well known for having a high-hitting track record when it comes to making predictions regarding technological growth.

In fact, many governments and large companies regularly utilize his growth prediction charts to plan for the future. Of the 147 predictions Kurzweil has made since the 1990s, he has about an 86 per cent accuracy rate.

Kurzweil isn't the only one predicting a technological singularity. In fact, there are many world renowned scientists and industry leaders making similar predictions, from physicist Michio Kaku to Elon Musk, the CEO of Space-X and Tesla.

The historical time line of human technological advancement certainly adds credibility to the concept of a technological singularity, as it remained relatively flat for several thousand years and suddenly shot straight up in only the last hundred years.

History has repeatedly demonstrated that society often underestimates the pace and development of technological change. The Wright brothers were scoffed and ridiculed by the scientific community in their day, but achieved flight many years earlier than many believed possible.

And The human genome project was initially predicted to take 100 years, but took only 15. Ultimately, only time will tell if Kurzweil's prediction of a singularity by 2045 comes into fruition.

Regardless of whether a technological singularity occurs, I think we can all agree that change is inevitable. From self-driving vehicles to biomedical interventions that increase healthy human life span, technology will continue to evolve and, with it, the human condition.


Comments are pre-moderated to ensure they meet our guidelines. Approval times will vary. Keep it civil, and stay on topic. If you see an inappropriate comment, please use the ‘flag’ feature. Comments are the opinions of the comment writer, not of Castanet. Comments remain open for one day after a story is published and are closed on weekends. Visit Castanet’s Forums to start or join a discussion about this story.

More Tech Talk articles

About the Author

Trevor Sharp is a computer-support specialist, and has been helping people with computing issues for more than 25 years.

Trevor lives in Kelowna with his wife and five kids, and owns and operates a mobile computer business providing on-site tech support for home and business customers.

Trevor is here to help your home or business with any computing issue,

Contact Info:

email: [email protected]

website: www.okanagancomputerservices.com

blog: www.okanagancomputerservices.com/blog

The views expressed are strictly those of the author and not necessarily those of Castanet. Castanet does not warrant the contents.

Previous Stories