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Stories from Science: The Singularity

June 4, 2008

The Singularity refers to the point when computing power becomes equal to that of the human mind. It is postulated that once we pass through that event, nothing will be the same. History will be divided into two halves; before and after the singularity. People will become immortal, minds uploaded into machine bodies, self replicating. The very rocks of the earth will be turned into computing devices through nanotechnology. Machines will beget machines, some with human minds, others with something far different.

Or so it goes. In reality, nothing is certain. If Moore’s Law holds, we’ll reach the singularity sometime around 2030. If.

Charles Stross’ book Accelerando is a good read, since it contains events and characters existing both before and after the Singularity event. It all goes a bit weird after the event, just between you and me. What starts out as a near-future SF story quickly accelerates into something very different.

The Singularity is an even many people have never heard of. At best, it inhabits the fringes of ‘science’ depending as it does on so many variables, and makes so many assumptions about what a computer with the computing power of a human mind will actually be able to do. By 2030, it might just be enough to run the latest computer games. Out now, Doom 14, requires one (1) human mind equivalent machine (MEM) to run. Something like that, I suspect. The future is generally far more mundane than we expect. Interesting, but still mundane.

  1. July 16, 2008 at 12:19 am

    i am really fascinated by this concept. and i was trying to find what it was called. i knew it had singularity in it. ‘the’ singularity. it sounds like total recall, meets 1984, meets brave new world, meets the matrix. i would love to write my own book incorporating or centred around this concept, and will definitely track down Accelerando. thanks for the recommendation.

  2. davekay
    July 18, 2008 at 11:41 am

    Charles Stross has also written a book called Singularity Sky, but I haven’t read that one as yet.

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