[ExI] Column- "Why the Singularity isn't going to happen"

Tom Nowell nebathenemi at yahoo.co.uk
Sat Oct 16 18:44:43 UTC 2010

Annalee Newitz is certainly confusing the singularity with a single, giant leap in technology. Penicillin was a big leap in medical technology, but as Kurzweil's explanation of the singularity (for one) goes, the singularity is not one leap, but the period in time where acceleration of technology takes off and more and more advances of technology take place in shorter time periods until the end result is a massive change in a very small time.

Her opening sentence - "I don't believe in the Singularity for the same reason I don't believe in Heaven" - is stating that utopian thinking isn't for her. Yes, there are people whose ideas about the Singularity come to a point where they self-identify or are labelled as "Singularitarians" who sound like the future will bring heaven on earth. Having been a Marxist for all of six months in my first year of university and having been a member of various Christian groups, I know there's a lot of utopian thinking out there. Yes, transhumanists almost all believe that technology will bring more benefits than problems (with the exception of a few "the singularity will destroy us" types). She doesn't - that means transhumanism isn't for her, but doesn't automatically make transhumanism wrong or her viewpoint perfect. 

I would like to make the opposite point to her penultimate paragraph - she asks us to be wary of a narrative that promises things that sound like religion. I say, if the philosophy you subscribe to doesn't include a healthy dose of utopian thinking, you are aiming your sights far too low. Read some mind-expanding books, or alternatively give up and become a political lobbyist.

And by the way, she never explained why the singularity isn't going to happen - she only states that singularity-level technology won't come without big consequences. Really? We had no idea! All those comments on this list about how we can't predict what will post-singularity must have been for nothing

(about to post more about the Singularity)


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