Other Paths to the Singularity: Intelligence Amplification. When people speak of creating superhumanly intelligent beings, they are usually imagining an AI project. But as I noted at the beginning of this paper, there are other paths to superhumanity/5(3). Vernor Vinge's Singularity - Essay writing What Is Edubirdie? We’ll Make Sure Your Law Essay Makes Its Case. Lab Report. Let Our Professional Writers Make Your Lab Report Shine. Literature Review. Who Better To Help With Your Literature Review Than Our Expert Writers. Report Writing. Jul 09, · Watch video · Vernor Vinge, who coined the term, speaks about rapid technological change, offloading our intelligence onto the.\r \r Vernor Vinge is a former San Diego State University math professor and a Hugo award-winning science fiction novelist. the Singularity, we are seeing the predictions of _true_ technological unemployment finally come true. A nother symptom of progress toward the Singularity: ideas themselves should spread ever faster, and even the most radical will quickly become commonplace. Whole Earth Review --Vernor Vinge Except for these annotations (and the correction of a few typographical errors), I have tried not to make any changes in this reprinting of the WER essayVernor Vinge, January 1. What Is The Singularity? The acceleration of technological progress has been the central feature of this century.
A slightly changed version appeared in the Winter issue of Whole Earth Review. What Is The Singularity? The acceleration of technological progress has been the central feature of this century. We are on the edge of change comparable to the rise of human life on Earth.
The precise cause of this change is the imminent creation by technology of entities with greater-than-human intelligence.
Science may achieve this breakthrough by several means and this is another reason for having confidence that the event will occur: Computers that are "awake" and superhumanly intelligent may be developed.
To date, there has been much controversy as to whether we can create human equivalence in a machine.
vernor vinge singularity essay
But if the answer is "yes," then there is little doubt that more intelligent beings can be constructed shortly thereafter. Large computer networks and their associated users may "wake up" as superhumanly intelligent entities. Biological science may provide means to improve natural human intellect. The first three possibilities depend on improvements in computer hardware. Progress in hardware has followed an amazingly steady curve in the last few decades.
Based on this trend, I believe that the creation of greater-than-human intelligence will occur during the next thirty years. Charles Platt has pointed out that AI enthusiasts have been making claims like this for thirty years. Just so I'm not guilty of a relative-time ambiguity, let me be more specific: I'll be surprised if this event occurs before or after What are the consequences of this event?
Singularity: the Rise of Superhuman Intelligence Essay
When greater-than-human intelligence drives progress, that progress will be much more rapid. In fact, there seems no reason why progress itself would not involve the creation of still more intelligent entities -- on a still-shorter time scale. The best analogy I see is to the evolutionary past: Animals can adapt to problems and make inventions, but often no faster than natural selection can do its work -- the world acts as its own simulator in the case of natural selection.
We humans have the ability to internalize the world and conduct what-if's in our heads; we can solve many problems thousands of times faster than natural selection could.
Now, by creating the means to execute those simulations at much higher speeds, we are entering a regime as radically different from our human past as we humans are from the lower animals.
This change will be a throwing-away of all the human rules, perhaps in the blink of an eye -- an exponential runaway beyond any hope of control. Developments that were thought might only happen in "a million years" if ever will likely happen in the next century. It's fair to call this event a singularity "the Singularity" for the purposes of this piece.
It is a point where our old models must be discarded and a new reality rules, a point that will loom vaster and vaster over human affairs until the notion becomes a commonplace. Yet when it finally happens, it may still be a great surprise and a greater unknown. In the s very few saw it: Stan Ulam1 paraphrased John von Neumann as saying: One conversation centered on the ever-accelerating progress of technology and changes in the mode of human life, which gives the appearance of approaching some essential singularity in the history of the race beyond which human affairs, as we know them, could not continue.
Von Neumann even uses the term singularity, though it appears he is thinking of normal progress, not the creation of superhuman intellect.
For me, the superhumanity is the essence of the Singularity. Without that we would get a glut of technical riches, never properly absorbed.
The s saw recognition of some of the implications of superhuman intelligence. Let an ultraintelligent machine be defined as a machine that can far surpass all the intellectual activities of any man however clever. Since the design of machines is one of these intellectual activities, an ultraintelligent machine could design even better machines; there would then unquestionably be an "intelligence explosion," and the intelligence of man would be left far behind.
Thus the first ultraintelligent machine is the last invention that man need ever make, provided that the machine is docile enough to tell us how to keep it under control. It is more probable than not that, within the twentieth century, an ultraintelligent machine will be built and that it will be the last invention that man need make.
Good has captured the essence of the runaway, but he does not pursue its most disturbing consequences. Any intelligent machine of the sort he describes would not be humankind's "tool" -- any more than humans are the tools of rabbits, robins, or chimpanzees. Through the sixties and seventies and eighties, recognition of the cataclysm spread. Perhaps it was the science-fiction writers who felt the first concrete impact. After all, the "hard" science-fiction writers are the ones who try to write specific stories about all that technology may do for us.
More and more, these writers felt an opaque wall across the future. Once, they could put such fantasies millions of years in the future. Now they saw that their most diligent extrapolations resulted in the unknowable. Once, galactic empires might have seemed a Posthuman domain. Now, sadly, even interplanetary ones are. What about the coming decades, as we slide toward the edge? How will the approach of the Singularity spread across the human world view?
For a while yet, the general critics of machine sapience will have good press. After all, until we have hardware as powerful as a human brain it is probably foolish to think we'll be able to create human-equivalent or greater intelligence. There is the farfetched possibility that we could make a human equivalent out of less powerful hardware -- if we were willing to give up speed, if we were willing to settle for an artificial being that was literally slow.
But it's much more likely that devising the software will be a tricky process, involving lots of false starts and experimentation. If so, then the arrival of self-aware machines will not happen until after the development of hardware that is substantially more powerful than humans' natural equipment. But as time passes, we should see more symptoms.
The dilemma felt by science-fiction writers will be perceived in other creative endeavors. I have heard thoughtful comicbook writers worry about how to create spectacular effects when everything visible can be produced by the technologically commonplace. We will see automation replacing higher- and higher-level jobs. In the coming of the Singularity, we will see the predictions of true technological unemployment finally come true.
Another symptom of progress toward the Singularity: And what of the arrival of the Singularity itself?
What can be said of its actual appearance? Since it involves an intellectual runaway, it will probably occur faster than any technical revolution seen so far. The precipitating event will likely be unexpected -- perhaps even by the researchers involved "But all our previous models were catatonic! We were just tweaking some parameters. If networking is widespread enough into ubiquitous embedded systems , it may seem as if our artifacts as a whole had suddenly awakened.
And what happens a month or two or a day or two after that? I have only analogies to point to: The rise of humankind. We will be in the Posthuman era. And for all my technological optimism, I think I'd be more comfortable if I were regarding these transcendental events from one thousand years' remove. Can the Singularity Be Avoided? Well, maybe it won't happen at all: There are the widely respected arguments of Penrose3 and Searle4 against the practicality of machine sapience. In fact, there was general agreement that minds can exist on nonbiological substrates and that algorithms are of central importance to the existence of minds.
However, there was much debate about the raw hardware power present in organic brains. A minority felt that the largest computers were within three orders of magnitude of the power of the human brain. The majority of the participants agreed with Hans Moravec's estimate5 that we are ten to forty years away from hardware parity.
And yet there was an other minority who conjectured that the computational competence of single neurons may be far higher than generally believed. If so, our present computer hardware might be as much as ten orders of magnitude short of the equipment we carry around in our heads. If this is true or for that matter, if the Penrose or Searle critique is valid , we might never see a Singularity.
Instead, in the early '00s we would find our hardware performance curves beginning to level off -- because of our inability to automate the design work needed to support further hardware improvements. We'd end up with some very powerful hardware, but without the ability to push it further.
Commercial digital signal processing might be awesome, giving an analog appearance even to digital operations, but nothing would ever "wake up" and there would never be the intellectual runaway that is the essence of the Singularity.
It would likely be seen as a golden age. This is very like the future predic ted by Gunther Stent,6 who explicitly cites the development of transhuman intelligence as a sufficient condition to break his projections. But if the technological Singularity can happen, it will. Even if all the governments of the world were to understand the "threat" and be in deadly fear of it, progress toward the goal would continue.
The competitive advantage -- economic, military, even artistic -- of every advance in automation is so compelling that forbidding such things merely assures that someone else will get them first. Eric Drexler has provided spectacular insights about how far technical improvement may go.
But Drexler argues that we can confine such transhuman devices so that their results can be examined and used safely. I argue that confinement is intrinsically impractical. Imagine yourself locked in your home with only limited data access to the outside, to your masters. If those masters thought at a rate -- say -- one million times slower than you, there is little doubt that over a period of years your time you could come up with a way to escape.
I call this "fast thinking" form of superintelligence "weak superhumanity. It's hard to say precisely what "strong superhumanity" would be like, but the difference appears to be profound.