Technological singularity: "beautiful is far away"?

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Technological singularity: "beautiful is far away"?

Nov 19, 2022
The route to technological singularity is a plausible one for our future. What exactly does this seemingly difficult phrase mean? What symptoms of the approaching singularity can we observe right now? Is it really worth it to be afraid? We strive to decipher the legacy of futurologists, science fiction writers, and directors.

“You are just a machine. Just an imitation of life. A robot will compose a symphony? Will a robot turn a piece of canvas into a masterpiece of art?” - says the hero of the film "I Robot", based on the eponymous collection of short stories by Isaac Asimov, one of the most famous science fiction writers of the 20th century.

But what if, in the near future, a robot will be able to not only write a symphony, but also do any action that previously only a human could perform? What if science fiction writers were able to accurately forecast the most likely scenario for our future? Futurologists all across the world are attempting to answer the issue of whether those made by man will be able to surpass him in capabilities, and if so, when and what would result.

The famous demographer Nicholas Eberstadt in his lecture "What will happen to the world's population in 2035?" It should be noted that the world's population is growing at an exponential rate. The threshold of 100 million people was broken 1000 years before Christ's birth. It took millennia for mankind to achieve such a demographic breakthrough. Simultaneously, the first billion arrived around 200 years ago, then a billion appeared every 100 years, then every 50 years, and presently a new billion appears every 12-13 years.

This is an illustration of the exponential law of expansion, which presents itself in several "branches" of development, including technical advancement. Gordon Moore, the creator of Intel Corporation, discovered the logarithmic rule in 1965, which states that computers get twice as "smarter" every year and a half. According to American futurist Raymond Kurzweil, assuming Moore's law holds true, computers will be able to compete with the human brain in terms of productive ability by 2030. Many futurologists across the world believe in the possibility of fast technological growth and the advent at some time of superintelligence, which they refer to as a technological singularity.

Verno Vinge, a mathematics professor and science fiction writer, initially suggested the notion of technological singularity at the VISION-21 conference in 1993:

“The Singularity is the point at which our old models will have to be discarded, where a new reality will reign.

When progress is guided by an intellect superior to that of man, it will become much more rapid. In fact, there is no reason to believe that progress will not produce more and more intelligent entities and at an ever faster pace.

Such an event would invalidate the entire set of human laws, perhaps in the blink of an eye. An uncontrollable chain reaction will begin to develop exponentially without any hope of regaining control over the situation. Changes that were thought to take "thousands of centuries" (if they occur at all) are likely to happen in the next hundred years.

Vinge sees several ways to develop this theory:

  1. A superhuman mind will arise as a result of the development of technology;
  2. Increase the efficiency of the human mind and physical characteristics through genetic engineering ;
  3. Large computer networks will be able to independently identify themselves as sentient entities;
  4. The synthesis of a computer and a person will lead to the fact that the person himself will have superintelligence.

A person thought about creating artificial intelligence in order to simplify his life and optimize most of his work. Thanks to optimization, computers no longer occupy entire rooms, but can easily fit in the palm of your hand, and their cost has decreased tenfold. Robots in our time have learned to follow commands, clean apartments, we have acquired "smart" houses, there is even a robot artist capable of reproducing any picture. Technology has become not only compact and cheap, but also intelligent. A computer can recognize your voice and translate information into bytes, most of the workshops are equipped with the latest technology for the production of new products, it is also easy to find a person with the help of a face recognition system. If we recall the law that was mentioned at the very beginning, then we can calculate,

This list can be continued indefinitely, but what awaits us if one day everything is replaced by computers: interactive assistants take the place of teachers, cars no longer need a driver, and a new robot is recognized as the best artist of the decade? All this is not as far as it seems: even now, robots can easily surpass humans in terms of efficiency and productivity. The robot does not get tired, does not go on vacation and does not require payment in the usual sense. Only maintenance costs. We can hardly predict exactly what will happen after the technological singularity, but some details can still be assessed now.

Considering the idea of ​​creating a superhuman mind, it should be noted that even today the performance of the IBM Watson supercomputer is estimated at about 80 trillion operations per second. News about the development and new features of the computer appear with enviable regularity.

IBM “Watson” is capable of answering questions, analyzing information and meanings hidden in questions, it is planned to use a supercomputer to help diagnose and treat cancer, and although a computer is inferior to a person in making decisions at an associative level, the American company Neuromatters and Columbia University in New York York have already entered into a contract to develop technology that will combine computer power and the power of the human brain to solve this problem as well.

The synthesis of man and computer was predicted by many science fiction writers and futurologists, trying to look into the near future. If we talk about cyborgs, the Terminator or Adam Jensen from Deus Ex immediately come to mind. It seems too fantastic to be true, but as William Gibson said, "the future is already here, it's just unevenly distributed."

Even Edgar Alan Poe in his story "The Man Who Was Chopped to Pieces" touched upon the topic of augmentation, namely, building implants on the body to reproduce a person with the help of technological power. In the modern world, it is no longer surprising to anyone with operations to replace limbs with automated ones. But progress does not stand still, and scientists from Carnegie Mellon University decided to go further and expanded the smart watch interface with a ring and bracelet set. The ring sends a constant current signal to your finger and now you can control the watch with a simple touch on your hand.

Cyborg Nest co-founder Liviu Babits said:

“Our goal is to help many people become cyborgs. We believe that if you feel what animals feel, then the understanding of the world will change. This will allow us to step into the next stage of evolution.”

And now, with their help, a person can, without operations, attach a chip to himself, which will help him navigate in space and will vibrate every time the carrier turns north.

"Frankensteins of the 21st century" exist, and there are more and more of them. The creators of the Black Mirror and Westworld series tried to predict and visualize the potential development of the technological process, because right now this topic is more relevant than ever. Presenting different views on the world of the future, the authors did not forget about robots, whose role is so great in our time.

We live in an age when flying cars have already been invented, and robots perform the functions of waiters. In 2009, Robosoft introduced a bus capable of ferrying people over calm stretches of road without driver assistance. And although drivers took over in dangerous situations, we are not far from the widespread adoption of driverless taxis.

What will await us when the technology created by our hands can develop independently of us? And although futurists agree that it is impossible to predict the future after the technological singularity, they are sure that it can be assumed, as Ray Kurzweil did.

But, besides futurologists, modern filmmakers are actively trying to do this, shooting one picture after another on the topic of the future of mankind. Most films that show us the alleged plot of the near future "humanize" robots, making them something like people - the terminator, transformers, etc. But it is unlikely that a computer with a superhuman mind will need to create its own image in the likeness of a human one.

Science fiction is also not left out of this topic. Isaac Asimov formulated 3 laws of robotics, one of which states that a robot cannot harm a person. But will it really be so? Most science fiction writers present a not too optimistic view of the future of mankind. However, there is another opinion on this matter. Writer Alexander Nikonov and futurist Alexander Zharov believe that a person will be able to enter into a symbiosis with artificial intelligence and develop skills, while remaining the one who controls his mind and body.

So what could happen in the near future from all this? Most likely, we are waiting for a massive "chipization", which is just beginning to gain momentum. Experts from the World Economic Forum spoke about this back in 2015. Among other things, they discussed the possibility of phones built into the human body in the next 10 years. But NFC chips are already being implanted in narrow circles . In medicine, there will be developments in the field of the search for "immortality", both biological and cybernetic. This will be facilitated by the already invented technologies for growing organs and producing artificial blood. Undoubtedly, in such a future there are both positive and negative sides. It is difficult to assess all the risks and make accurate predictions. However, there is no point in being afraid of the future, it is inevitable. It is worth remembering only how much what is happening today affects what will happen tomorrow.

Anurag Deep

Logical by Mind, Creative by Heart