Technological Singularity: The Digital Nirvana of the 21st Century

by Shrividya Kachawa

Abstract

We are in an era of intelligence, where an individual’s social skills are dependent on artificial intelligence. Digital life is claiming human capabilities and dislodging human activities. Experts believe that networked artificial intelligence can amplify human efficacy, but also challenge human control, organisation and capability. Average humans will one day be overtaken by artificial machine intelligence or cognitively augmented biological intelligence, or both, has moved from science fiction to serious debate. Some singularity researchers believe that if the field of artificial intelligence (A.I.) continues to evolve at its current dizzying pace, the singularity will appear in the middle of the present century.  The aim of the following article is not to make predictions but rather to investigate a range of scenarios

Which include; basic concepts like technological, singularity, super intelligence and what is technological singularity altogether, the origin of the concept, what will technological singularity look like, the future of humans in an age of accelerating technological change.

Introduction

Technological Singularity is a theoretical point in time at which technological growth becomes uncontainable and irrevocable, resulting in unanticipated changes in human civilisation.

As civilisation stands on the verge of a knowledge explosion sparked by technology, the size, reach, and sophistication of the effect of intelligence evolution on computers is unlike anything humankind has ever encountered before. As a consequence, the pace at which theories, technologies and inventions based on artificial intelligence arise has little historical precedent and is radically transforming everything in the human world.[1]

Technology has prompted the emergence of artificial intelligence and the linkages between theories, inventions and patterns have, in turn, take us to the doorstep of singularity. Regardless of our acceptance, Singularity is going to happen. This mere idea raises numerous questions and vital safety threats for the future of humanity. This forces us to launch a dialogue with ourselves and others, individually and collectively, about what we want as a species.

Furthermore, the scope, complexity and effect of this knowledge progression on the advancement of ideas and technologies herald the fundamental transition of all intertwined and interdependent primary and applied science systems.[2]

How Did the Concept of Technological Singularity Come into Being?

The theory behind technological singularity has been modified and has developed through years of study. The concept was first introduced in 1958 by John von Neumann, a Hungarian mathematician and physicist, as a science that could contribute to revolutionary human transformation. Stanislaw Ulam had also envisioned something similar at the same time.

In terms of a well-known statistician, I.J. Good, “Human brains will invent technology to develop their minds, which, if initiated, would lead to the discovery of super-intelligence.” He coined the term “intelligence explosion” for his hypothesis. Good’s work inspired mathematician, computer scientist, and science fiction writer Vernor Vinge. He became the first individual to use Singularity in a scientific context in 1986.

Moore’s rule has been in existence for 46 years. It is a descriptor of the pattern we have seen in the production of computer hardware for decades, with little indication of slowing down, where the number of transistors that can be mounted on an integrated circuit which doubles every two years. The rule is named after Gordon Moore, who described the pattern in 1965.

The Singularity occurs after the moment when our technological creations overtake the computing capacity of human brains, and Kurzweil predicts that, based on Moore’s Law and the general pattern of exponential technology development, that moment will arrive before the mid-21st century.

We will witness artificial intelligence that goes beyond human intelligence at the same time, he says. Nevertheless, there is more to it than merely developing smarter intelligence. There are profound implications, so we are going to get to those soon.

The term technological singularity was coined in 1983 by Vernor Vinge, “We will soon be generating intelligence greater than our own,” he stated. “When this occurs, human civilisation will have achieved a kind of singularity, an intellectual transformation as impenetrable as space-time at the middle of a black hole, and the universe will slip well beyond our comprehension.” He combined the opinions of many of his predecessors, Alan Turing and I.J. Good.

The theory is that as we become capable of making entities more intelligent than we are, there is the reason that they or their near-descendants, will be able to create intelligence more intelligent than themselves. This accelerated development in knowledge will work just like Moore’s Law.[3]

What Will Singularity Look Like?

Mathematician and theorist I. J. Good predicted that machines would eventually be able to create better machines.

He quoted:

Let an ultra-intelligent 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 ultra-intelligent 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 ultra-intelligent machine is the last invention that man need ever make.[4]

Good did not just make futuristic forecasts. He recognised the need for deep neural networks as a way to create smart machines, a technique that we are only beginning to use today. He expected the need for ultra-parallel machines with very parallel sparse connexions to create smart machines.

His remarks on reinforcement learning as the optimal way to train an intelligent system are prescient. However, he also explains the idea of minor improvements in the knowledge framework driven by inputs from outputs that are essentially what we are doing today with back spreading in deep neural networks.

Theorists believe that we cannot guess what the world will look like in the future. Let us question the common belief and strive to paint a grim picture for ourselves. Imagine a world where humans will have infinite capacities that will give rise to millions of possibilities. As the development of human evolution is fast, it will make us capable not only of thought but of doing something that cannot be anticipated. The unpredictable could be attainable, and it could be understood.[5] 

We may speculate about the adjustments the singularity will bring, which will cause this exponential growth. When we construct computers with capacity more significant than the human brain and self-aware software that is smarter than the human intellect, we can predict the rate at which this A.I. software will take control over the human mind  Considering the unimaginably high processing power. Artificial intelligence could significantly ease our workloads and remarkably replace human labour. [6]

Keeping up with Super Intelligence:

Oxford Philosopher Nick Bostrom states super-intelligence as “any intellect that significantly exceeds the cognitive ability of humans in nearly all fields of concern.” This means the super-intelligence is smarter than visionaries in any area and surpasses the genius of human beings in carrying out a mission.

He also states that super-intelligence would dominate human intelligence in fields such as scientific ingenuity, cognitive abilities, and general knowledge. This may mean that super-intelligence would employ different neural mechanisms that make human intelligence what it is but at a much higher pace and quality.

Thus, super-intelligence can be defined as artificial intelligence that performs human-like cognitive functions at substantially increasing speed and efficiency compared to the human mind. The AI programmes that we have today fall into the category of restricted artificial intelligence, as their scope of authority is restricted to a well-defined task.[7]

Singularity would lead to an explosion of super intellectual humans, while these computers would begin to produce items that are not just logical, but also ultimately incomprehensible. Technology is also mainly at the developmental level, and it will take years before we enjoy the full benefits of it. However, as that happens, the speed at which these A.I.s will operate would be improved. This is going to be another big step towards human automation.

Singularity can contribute to ‘superhuman intelligence’ because of its extraordinarily quick an efficient computing ability. This intelligence can allow the machine itself to come to such conclusions on its own. Singularity would effectively offer the ability to rewrite the source code on the program itself for systemic development.

Presently, many claims that, to conquer artificial super-intelligence, evolving techniques will be used to improve human intelligence and to construct a superhuman with super-intelligence. Technically, the development of super-intelligent super-humans is likely to be possible by intellect enhancement of human brains combined with augmented intelligence (by developments in bioengineering, genetic engineering, nootropic medicines, mind uploading, and even direct brain-computer interfaces, A.I. assistants), the fact is that human minds and intellect is entirely compliant within the realms of technological evolution. [8]

To conclude :

The humans are enduring a paradox as the successes of artificial intelligence advancements are transforming human environments with more hazardous yet useful resources than ever before. 

Exponential growth in computing power in the past century leads to an inexorable conclusion — that machines can equal and ultimately surpass the computational capacity of human brains.

At some point, this increased computational ability, coupled with developments in artificial intelligence, is expected to lead to the development of self-aware computer intelligence. It would be capable of recursive self-improvement to set itself on a level of intelligence outside the reach of human imagination. The outcome will be among the most critical developments in the evolution of the human race: the phenomenon will be the birth of a second intelligent species on Earth, capable of competing with the human race and motivated by ambitions, impulses and motives that cannot be expected.[9]


[1] Pandya, J. (2020). The Troubling Trajectory Of Technological Singularity. Retrieved 12 October 2020, from https://www.forbes.com/sites/cognitiveworld/2019/02/10/the-troubling-trajectory-of-technological-singularity/#5819d87d6711

[2] Falconer, J. (2020). What is the Technological Singularity?. Retrieved 12 October 2020, from https://thenextweb.com/insider/2011/06/19/what-is-the-technological-singularity/

[3] Singularity?, W., & Daseeco, D. (2020). What is the concept of the technological Singularity?. Retrieved 14 October 2020, from https://ai.stackexchange.com/questions/17/what-is-the-concept-of-the-technological-singularity

[4] Toon, N. (2020). Can machines become more intelligent than man?. Retrieved 21 October 2020, from https://www.graphcore.ai/posts/ultraintelligence#:~:text=%E2%80%9CLet%20an%20ultra%2Dintelligent%20machine,of%20any%20man%20however%20clever.&text=Thus%20the%20first%20ultra%2Dintelligent,to%20keep%20it%20under%20control.%E2%80%9D

[5] Toon, N. (2020). Can machines become more intelligent than man?. Retrieved 21 October 2020, from https://www.graphcore.ai/posts/ultraintelligence#:~:text=%E2%80%9CLet%20an%20ultra%2Dintelligent%20machine,of%20any%20man%20however%20clever.&text=Thus%20the%20first%20ultra%2Dintelligent,to%20keep%20it%20under%20control.%E2%80%9D

[6] Chowdhury, A., & Chowdhury, A. (2020). What is Technological Singularity & when can we achieve it?. Retrieved 14 October 2020, from https://analyticsindiamag.com/technological-singularity-can-achieve/

[7] V K, A. (2020). Everything You Need to Know About Superintelligence | Toolbox. Toolbox. Retrieved 14 October 2020, from https://www.toolbox.com/tech/artificial-intelligence/tech-101/everything-you-need-to-know-about-superintelligence/.

[8] Garden, H., HowStuffWorks, Tech, Electronics, Gadgets, & Gadgets. (, 2020). What is the technological Singularity?. Retrieved 12 October 2020, from https://electronics.howstuffworks.com/gadgets/high-tech-gadgets/technological-singularity.htm

[9] Nine crazy things that could happen after the Singularity, when robots become smarter than humans. (2020). Retrieved 14 October 2020, from https://www.businessinsider.com/predictions-for-after-singularity-2015-11?IR=T#some-scholars-think-that-the-singularity-will-be-the-moment-when-humans-find-their-successors-4

About the Author

Shrividya is pursuing International Affairs degree from Jindal School of International Affairs. She is also an in-house Research Associate at The Digital Future.


One thought on “Technological Singularity: The Digital Nirvana of the 21st Century

  1. What we are presently doing with AI is just tip of the iceberg. Singularity is inevitable and there ll come a time when the machine power will become infinitely powerful and supersede all human intellect combined. It’ll be quite something to see Ray Kurzweil’s prediction come true – quite a moment to witness in this lifetime.
    Great read!!

    Like

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