The Technological Singularity

Infinite Possibilities

Humanity entered The Information Age with the invention of the transistor and other semiconductors in the late 1940s. Since then, modern computers, artificial intelligence, the internet, smartphones and social media have reshaped society into its present state. Nobody before the advent of transistors could have foreseen the paradigm shift it would create; the way it would change how we live our lives forever.

In mathematics, a point which is not well-defined and behaves unpredictably is called a singularity. Indeed, mathematician and computer scientist John von Neumann hypothesised a point in time where technology would advance to such a level that society would become completely unrecognisable.

“The ever accelerating progress of technology… give the appearance of approaching some essential singularity in the history of the (human) race beyond which human affairs… could not continue.” ~ Von Neumann paraphrased by Stanislav Ulam (1957)

Neumann was likely referring to the emergence of artificial intelligence (AI) that occurred during the last years of his life. Following the rapid advancement of AI, futurists such as Vernor Vinge (1998) and Ray Kurzweil (2004) popularised the term technological singularity. We can roughly define the technological singularity as follows,

The technological singularity is a point in time where technology has advanced to such a level that it causes an unforeseen restructuring of the social hierarchy.

The Technological Singularity

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