Four days ago, I joined SingularityHub.com, a site with news, discussion, and videos related to the Technological Singularity, the so-called “Rapture of the Nerds.” To become a member of this site, you don’t need to be an AI researcher, a neuroscientist, a billionaire investor, anything like that.
You just need to be, well, a fan.
I’ve been exploring this corner of the Interwebs lately, and an odd little corner it is. The heavyweight is the Singularity University, a surprisingly well-connected group funded by the likes of Google, Cisco, Nokia, and Autodesk (creator of AutoCAD).
And there’s the 2045 Intiative, a group founded by Russian billionaire Dmitry Itskov, dedicated to “the transfer of a individual’s personality to a more advanced non-biological carrier, and extending life, including to the point of immortality.” Project deadline: 2045.
And, of course, Singularity thinkers like Ray Kurzweil and Eliezer Yudkowsky have their own online presence. Kurzweil, incidentally, was hired by Google a few months ago. His first time working for a company he didn’t create.
The Singularity research/enthusiast community is, as I said, a strange little group. Websites are a mix of real news about promising present-day tech, debates about philosophy and spirituality and robotics, and bona fide major efforts to bring this vision of the future a little closer to reality.
The common link in all this group is that people really believe. They know it sounds crazy, but then, the truth often does.
What do I think about all this?
Well, as I wrote last year, I believe the Singularity is real, and I believe it is coming. Maybe not in our lifetimes, but it’s coming. I am very much a part of the strange little group. I honestly think it’s a real possibility that some human beings alive today will live to see their one millionth birthday.
I, too, am conscious of how ridiculous this sounds. I know the Internet is teeming with these fringe micro-groups that feed on each other’s delusions until they’re convinced that their tiny groupthink vision is a prophecy for all mankind. I get that.
A billion years ago, multi-celled organisms were a novelty. A million years ago, there was no such thing as language. A thousand years ago, electricity was nothing more than an angry flash in the sky. A hundred years ago, the whole idea of airplanes was still strange and new. Ten years ago, smartphones were only for the early adopters.
Am I really supposed to look at all that, and not believe we’re headed toward something?