The Singularity is not coming

See on Scoop.itTracking the Future

Given that you are tech-savvy, by that point you have almost certainly come across the idea of the Singularity  as defended by futurists like Ray Kurzweil and Vernor Vinge. As a reminder, it is the notion that, when we are at last able to compile a smarter-than-human artificial intelligence, this AI will in turn manage to improve its own design, and so on, resulting in an out-of control loop of “intelligence explosion” with unpredictable technological consequences. (singularists go on to predict that after this happens we will merge with machines, live forever, upload our minds into computers, etc).

What’s more, this seemingly far-future revolution would happen within just a few decades (2040 is often mentioned), due to the “exponential” rate of progress of science. That this deadline would arrive just in time to save the proponents of the Singularity from old age is just a weird coincidence that ought to be ignored.

Objection, your honor. As a scientist, I find the claim that scientific progress is exponential to be extremely dubious. If I look at my own field, or at any field that I am vaguely familiar with, I observe roughly linear progress —a rate that has typically been going on since as far back as the field’s foundation. “Exponential progress” claims are usually supported by the most bogus metrics, such as the number of US patents filled per year (essentially a fashion utterly decorrelated from scientific progress).

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