Sunday, June 01, 2008

IEEE - The Singularity Issue

Via Nick Carr I discover the professional journal of electrical engineers has devoted an entire issue to the Technological Singularity (aka The Singularity) beginning with a Vinge essay:
IEEE Spectrum: Special Report: The Singularity

... The writer who first postulated the singularity answers skeptics and tells us what to look for as the world slips closer to the edge...
Well blow me down.

I was so surprised by the six article special issue I did a quick test to see if they'd referenced the "unavoidable Singularity" answer to the Fermi Paradox but they didn't.

As a card-carrying geek I am well versed in the Gospel of the Geeks, the Rapture of the Nerds and Ascension unto Silicon. I call that threat skynet, in honor of the governor of California.

Alas, as a confirmed unbeliever in the kindness of deities I would not expect much of us to survive even 8/10s of a Singularity, save perhaps as an arcane footnote.

I give much credit to IEEE for tackling the most unnerving of topics, and publishing an issue that, if we're still around in 100 years, will be endlessly mocked*. For more on the topic see my skynet thread, or the footnotes to my old Fermi Paradox page.

I'll read the articles and make note of anything novel, but I'd be surprised to find any new insights. This topic has been well discussed in geek circles. Now all we can do is wait and see what happens.

PS. My quote from the issue credits Vernor Vinge with the invention of the Singularity concept, but I see him more as the person who reified the Singularity in the popular mind. He brought it from a fuzzy concept in science fiction dating back to at least 1982 into the wider geek consciousness.

I have, by the way, an original copy of the issue of Whole Earth magazine where Vinge's first popular Singularity essay was published.

* Vis: Bill Joy. I think it's possible we won't see a Singularity by 2108, but if I'm sentient in 2040 and there's no sign of one beginning, I'll be inclined towards an even more peculiar, but very popular, explanation of the Fermi Paradox.

No comments: