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SCIENCE BLOG: Our Final Frontier - the Singularity of Humankind

What defines a future period during which the pace of technological change will be so rapid, its impact so deep, and that human life will be irreversibly transformed?

~Albert Einstein declared in 1932~

"There is not the slightest indication that nuclear energy will ever be obtainable."

So the future is unpredictable; some of the technologies will soon become a reality while others will not; but many technologies will change our lives in more profound ways than ever expected.

The iPhone alone has achieved such recent status. While the future is unpredictable, we still have advanced more in the past 50 years than in all previous times put together and we can expect an even faster progress in the next 50 years.

"The convergence of today's technological forces has produced a roaring waterfall of change. It leads onward to a great sea of new evolutionary possibilities, on the earth or reaching into space. But right now we are in the torrent and our only hope is to work together with energy and intelligence if we are to come through successfully into that boundless ocean."  ~  John Platt in "The Acceleration of Evolution" (1981)~

The increasing rate of scientific discoveries leads us to expect even more breakthroughs in the future. We'll eventually reach a point where technological advances will make foreseeing the future an impossible task. A time when scientific advances are so staggering and revolutionary, that we won't be able to predict the future.  This is called the Singularity.

At the cornerstone understanding of the Singularity is the assumption that computers smarter than humans will build even smarter computers leading to an exponential increase in knowledge that our human minds can't foresee.  Here's how ~Vernon Vinge described it in his book "True Names and Other Dangers"~

"Here I had tried a straightforward extrapolation of technology, and found myself precipitated over an abyss. It's a problem we face every time we consider the creation of intelligences greater than our own. When this happens, human history will have reached a kind of singularity - a place where extrapolation breaks down and new models must be applied - and the world will pass beyond our understanding."

What, then, is this thing called Singularity? Well, simply it's a future period during which the pace of technological change will be so rapid, its impact so deep, that human life will be irreversibly transformed.  

Although neither utopian nor dystopian, this epoch will transform the concepts that we rely on to give meaning to our lives, from our business models to the cycle of human life, including death itself. Understanding the Singularity will alter our perspective on the significance of our past and the ramifications for our future. To truly understand it inherently, changes one's view of life in general and one's own particular life.

Humans are not a finished product; we are evolving biological organisms, waiting for the right conditions to blossom. We can and will evolve beyond natural and biological limits. It is our destiny. Contra naturam, or the defiance of Nature, has lead us to increase our quality of life and longevity.  We have been and will continue to adjust and adapt Nature using our technology and intelligence. When we win the battle over Nature, like colds and viruses, we will not be humans anymore as currently defined; we will be better than humans. At present, our top priority must be to fight aging but if we can achieve such a lofty goal, we will have a world of opportunities to upgrade ourselves using genetics cybernetics and nanoscience.

 "To be what you want to be: isn't this the essence of being human? ~Anders Sandberg~

We will become post-human beings, getting rid of the anthropomorphic values and ideals that limit our imagination.  While many are not always optimistic about current humankind decision-making, we do have a unique opportunity to evolve beyond our current natural limits and become highly evolved-humans.

One should always seek out new frontiers and objectives, not only is it natural in our biological makeup, and species chaos, but the learning advances alone evolves us. In a world where perfection does not exist, it remains a prime objective. You can never be perfect, but you can always be better. In addition to seeking perfection, we transcend ourselves. Human evolution is no longer a natural process; we must understand our evolution as our task. That is why the "sky is the limit." Our species will conquer the sky, space travel and alternative living will happen, thus we will no longer be content with earth alone.

Our future can be and is already very exciting!

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

Ting Ting March 08, 2012 at 06:34 AM
I like your concept of singularity . Yes Technology has leaped beyond imagination. With the invention of mainframe in60s and the evolution to the Iphone within 50 years' time frame, it leads one to wonder what is not possible... Future is a relationship between uncertainties and immense possibilities..Singularity has demonstrated itself trhru Steve Job' s invention of I phone
Douglas Linman March 08, 2012 at 02:00 PM
Wonderful response and perfect example of a transformational effect to our humankind. There will be more coming, lots more, in nano medicine, artificial intelligence, cybernetics, cellular regeneration, and bioapplications to name just a few. Thank you!

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