The Singularity: What It Means to Be Human in the Dawn of Machines
Take a look at the smartphone in your pocket. That device is a million times smaller, a million times cheaper, and a thousand times more powerful than what used to be a 60 million dollar computer that was half a building in size, 40 years ago (Silva 1). Our devices are becoming smaller and more efficient as time progress and within the next 10 years the devices we now hold in our hands, will be the size of a blood cells in our bodies and brains. The efficiency and capability of computers is rapidly increasing.
Each new model debuts groundbreaking features and the speed at which we churn out new technology is increasing exponentially. Computers are on the verge of being able to do exactly what humans do, but better. In the next 10 years, nanobots will be coursing through our veins, aiding our bodies in their daily functions. They will interact with our biological cells, deliver oxygen and nutrients, and remove waste. The efficiency of these nanobots will eliminate health issues and illnesses.
Cancer will finally be easily curable and Alzheimer’s will be a thing of the past. The precision of nanobots will make it possible to repair damaged genes and cure illnesses such as Down Syndrome. Nanobots will become the global solution to health issues and in the process make us hybrids of biological and non-biological parts (Kurzweil). As developments in brain-computer interfaces improve, our brains will be able to interact with non-biological parts. We will be able to plug neurochips into our brains and increase our intelligence, computational powers, and memory (Kurzweil). Remember when Neo “knew” Kung Fu in the Matrix without having to learn it? That will soon be us, we will be able to connect to the internet through our neurochips and download knowledge into our brains.
As neurochips improve, we will begin offloading more and more of our memory and consciousness into them (Silva 3). Neurochips will become the norm, and the line between Artificial Intelligence and human intelligence will begin to blur. 2045 is the date set for the Singularity. This is where things get really weird. The Singularity is the moment in time, “.
..when we will multiply our effective intelligence a billion fold by merging with the intelligence we have created” (Galeon and Reedy). It is the point in time when we merge our intelligence with artificial intelligence: when humans and AI are no longer two separate components, but one whole. The idea of the Singularity is both exhilarating and frightening.
Self-replicating computers that are infinitely more intelligent than us, which may achieve consciousness, are dangerous. The Terminator scenario, where our technology wakes up and turns on us, is plausible. However, if we never created language we wouldn’t have hate speech, but we also wouldn’t have knowledge or abstract ideas. If we never invented the airplane we wouldn’t have airplane crashes, but air travel is the safest form of human transportation. Like any new technology, super-intelligent AI comes with its dangers, but it is coming.
The Singularity is not only inevitable but it is also crucial to our development. It is the culmination of our evolution. Virgil in the Aeneid stated, “Mens agitat molem”, mind over matter. In 2045, matter will be mind. The Singularity will extend our creativity and intelligence more than we could ever dream of. It will shift the course of human history more drastically than the invention of fire or the wheel.
As we continuously repair and replace our parts as we decay, potentially becoming immortal, and merge our intelligence and consciousness with machines, are we still human? Are we still us if we have replaced every part of our physical selves? As asked by the philosopher Theseus many centuries ago, if you repair your boat over and over again until none of its previous material remains, is it still your boat? However, isn’t it true that our bodies naturally repair and replace our cells throughout our entire lives? We build technology and it builds us back. What we create extends the reach of our intelligence and abilities. Our technology is the embodiment of our creativity. The Singularity is nothing more than an extension of us, an extension of our intelligence and capacity. It’s not us versus them, it’s one large shared intelligence that contains both biological and non-biological parts.
The Singularity will change the course of history, it will catapult us into a new era, and it will be unlike anything we could ever imagine. Works Cited Galeon, Dom, and Christina Reedy. “Kurzweil Claims That the Singularity Will Happen by2045.” Futurism. Futurism, 16 Oct. 2017.
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