The Coming Technological Singularity: How to Survive in the Post-Human Era
The acceleration of technological progress has been the central feature of this century. I argue in this paper that we are on the edge of change comparable to the rise of human life on Earth. The precise cause of this change is the imminent creation by technology of entities with greater than human intelligence. There are several means by which science may achieve this breakthrough (and this is another reason for having confidence that the event will occur)
1.The development of computers that are "awake" and superhumanly intelligent. (To date, most controversy in the area of AI relates to whether we can create human equivalence in a machine. But if the answer is "yes, we can", then there is little doubt that beings more intelligent can be constructed shortly thereafter.
2. Large computer networks (and their associated users) may "wake up" as a superhumanly intelligent entity.
3. Computer/human interfaces may become so intimate that users may reasonably be considered superhumanly intelligent.
4. Biological science may find ways to improve upon the natural human intellect.
(c) 1993 by Vernor Vinge (Verbatim copying/translation and distribution of this entire article is permitted in any medium, provided this notice is preserved.)
Another symptom of progress toward the Singularity: ideas themselves should spread ever faster, and even the most radical will quickly become commonplace.
What are the consequences of this event? When greater-than-human intelligence drives progress, that progress will be much more rapid. In fact, there seems no reason why progress itself would not involve the creation of still more intelligent entities -- on a still-shorter time scale.