Tag Archives: Vinge

Singularity season – nerd rapture or inconvenient truth?

array of computer screensNothing divides opinion like the future – it’s human nature, we all love to take a stab at predicting what will come. But it’s also human nature to disagree over what cannot yet be proven (which is something we can be sure of by looking at the past).

So, Vernor Vinge – the computer scientist and sf novelist who coined the term ‘Technological Singularity’ as used in this context during a presentation back in the eighties, and has talked about it ever since in his fiction and elsewhere – provides the capstone article to a special Singularity edition of IEEE Spectrum, defending the concept against the criticisms levelled at it by various scientists, economists and philosophers.

“The best answer to the question, “Will computers ever be as smart as humans?” is probably “Yes, but only briefly.””

For some odd reason IEEE neglected to solicit Warren Ellis‘s opinion, so he supplied it himself:

“When you read these essays and interviews, every time you see the word “Singularity,” I want you to replace it in your head with the term “Flying Spaghetti Monster.”

As always, if you want the apogee of cynicism, Ellis is your man; he’s the bucket of cold water thrown over the mating dogs of enthusiasm.

But other opinions are available, as the adverts say – George Dvorsky’s response to Ellis, for example:

“The day is coming, my friends, when Singularity denial will seem as outrageous and irresponsible as the denial of anthropogenic global warming. And I think the comparison is fair; environmentalists are often chastised for their “religious-like” convictions and concern. It’s easy to mock the Chicken Littles of the world.”

What do Futurismic‘s readership think about the Singularity – awesome sf-nal literary metaphor, or looming technological likelihood? [image by binary koala]