When the Singularity happens, it will be ‘very obvious’: Vernor Vinge vs. the Singulars

December 7, 2011 by Amara D. Angelica

(credit: Fox)

How will we know if we have passed through a Singularity? Damn good question, one that keeps me up at night. Like right now.

Science fiction writer Vernor Vinge, originator of the technological Singularity concept, came up with some interesting answers in an io9 video interview: “When things begin to happen in the real world that no human has any explanation for … or if you run into people who say it has happened and can demonstrably outperform you in everything you do…. or it’s 2070 and it hasn’t happened: there still will be Singularity people around, but they”ll tell you, ‘It happened and you never noticed it!’”

However, the event “would be spectacular enough that there wouldn’t be any question.”

Not so fast there, Vernor. I’m not convinced it hasn’t already happened.

Knights Singular

In fact, what if the entire Singularity meme/movement is a clever conspiracy to cover up what already happened? The “Singulars” (you know, like the Templars?) might not want you to know.

Have you been reading our newsletter for the past 11 years? Have you noticed anything accelerating? Having troubling keeping up with it all? Um huh.

Case in point: Isn’t it curious that Stanisław Ulam and John von Neumann, along with Edward Teller, worked out the key steps in the nuclear physics involved in thermonuclear reactions and the hydrogen bomb on the supersecret Manhattan project, then later came up with the Singularity idea (in 1958)?

“One conversation centered on the ever accelerating progress of technology and changes in the mode of human life, which gives the appearance of approaching some essential singularity in the history of the race beyond which human affairs, as we know them, could not continue,” Ulam said.

The Singularity Project

Q: What’s the next big threat after the nuclear bomb?

A: The intelligence race.

Q: Why did von Neumann next work on inventing the digital computer?

A: You figure it out.

Q: What if there’s a supersecret U.S. “Singularity Project” — the ultimate showdown with, say, China? Would people totally freak out and try to close the project down?

A: Better to go with a soft (gradual) takeoff, while a covert hard (fast) takeoff has already happened underground. And the resulting superintelligence has been sort of slowly leaking out, like the radioactivity at Fukushima Daiichi going into the Ocean….

Q: So how would we know?

A: Sorry, that’s all I’m “authorized” to tell you — for now…. (LOL)

Meanwhile, what are your thoughts?

Amara D. Angelica is Editor of KurzweilAI