The singularity

In the last few days I read two books. I don’t read very many fiction books but these got me thinking.

The singularity is a term taken from physics. In the world of physics a singularity is an object or event in space where the laws of normal physics break and thing behave in wild and unpredictable ways. The term has been taken over to the world of technology to be the point in time when computers become intelligent enough to improve themselves. Once there is a computer AI as smart as a human it will not take long for it to start coding on itself and eventually becoming 2x, 5x, 100x smarter than anyone on the planet.

When this happens (not if) the world will change dramatically very quickly. But whether or not it will be good or bad is unknown. Any futurist cannot be certain of anything afterwards.

Will people have jobs if a computer is capable of everything we can do? With mass unemployment as factories become completely automated, followed by AIs redesigning the products and taking over business management roles will it result in a wealth of free time or crises as people have no money.

Will removing people from the supply chain bring the prices of goods to zero? Probably not since there will be at least a few thing that will remain scarce such as property, and time. How that will be handled if no one makes any money is anyone’s guess.

Will an army of automated robots be able to re-forest the Sahara desert and save the planet from climate change?

It is a fascinating scenario to think about because literally every industry will change. There are so many variables and uncertainties that a thorough discussion would probably fill a 1000 page book.

The role of science fiction is sometimes to explore these ideas and present them to a wider audience so that culturally we can be somewhat more prepared for what the future may bring. The singularity is something far more likely to happen in the next 30 years than the invention of faster than light travel or transporter pads and yet it has been off the radar for most people.