What is The Technological Singularity?

Moore's Law over 120 Years
Moore's Law over 120 Years , Courtesy of Ray Kurzweil, DFJ

The technological singularity is the hypothesis that the creation of artificial intelligence of a sufficient power will cause rapid exponential technological growth, the likes of which the unaided human brains are unable to comprehend. The theory stipulates that an artificial intelligence that gets to the point of where it is intelligent enough to improve on its own design autonomously would with each generation become more intelligent and the gaps between new generations would shrink, leading to an intelligence explosion and resulting in a artificial intelligence that would in every domain, far exceed all human intelligence.

In 1965 the mathematician I.J. Good predicted that an intelligence explosion would follow an artificial intelligence capable will trigger a singularity. Scifi author and mathematician Vernor Vinge wrote in his 1993 essay The Coming Technological Singularity that this event would signal the end of the human era, as the new superintelligence would continue to upgrade itself and would advance technologically at an incomprehensible rate.

John von Neumann in the 1950s was the first to use the term “singularity”, in the context of technological progress causing accelerating change: “The accelerating progress of technology and changes in the mode of human life, give the appearance of approaching some essential singularity in the history of the race beyond which human affairs, as we know them, could not continue”.

Inventor and futurist Ray Kurzweil predicts human-level AI will arrive by 2029 and the technological singularity will happen by 2045 while others such as Vinge and AI pioneer J├╝rgen Schmidhuber predict it to happen some time before 2030. A study of AI researchers opinions on the likely dates for human-level general AI found a high level of uncertainty, with a median likely date of 2040.

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