Will we reach the singularity before we commit species wide suicide and take the rest of life on Earth with us, or not? This was a question that took up about a minute of conversation tonight at the poetry reading, but I think it’s a real good question.
Of course, there are many factors to consider. First, what are we defining as The Singularity, because I’ve definitely heard different definitions, but the way I’m defining it here is that point in the future when we can just upload our knowledge, our memories, our sense of self, into the computer where it will merge and mingle (actually, I think the mingling version might be a lot less scary than a full on merger) into a single, great, absolutely immortal species mind. Disembodied, sure, and some would say that makes it not worth it, but it is immortality, along with a kind of omni-cognizance, so I think it would be pretty cool.
Now, how close to that possibility is one question, and how close are we to extinction is the other. I’m kind of an optimist on the second question. There are some really bright people who are working on alternative energy sources, and how to restore the right balance of carbon and hydrogen, and all sorts of cool, green stuff, bullet trains and electric cars, and so much, so much more. All it takes is a sharp, sudden shift in the public consciousness and we’ll get that as soon as a developed and populated land mass suddenly ceases to exist. So, yeah, I think humanity will take it right to the brink, because we’re stupid, but will pull back from the brink, because we’re not actually suicidal.
How far away is the singularity? Hell, I don’t know, but things do appear to be developing at a swift pace, both in brain biology and cybernetics, and each development feeds on the last in a wonderful, cascading effect, so I’m guessing 20 or 30 years, based on nothing.