The Singularity Isn’t Simple! (However We Look at It) A Random Walk between Science Fiction and Science Fact

Grout, Vic (2018) The Singularity Isn’t Simple! (However We Look at It) A Random Walk between Science Fiction and Science Fact. Information, 9 (4). ISSN 2078-2489

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It seems to be accepted that intelligence—artificial or otherwise—and ‘the singularity’ are inseparable concepts: ‘The singularity’ will apparently arise from AI reaching a, supposedly particular, but actually poorly-defined, level of sophistication; and an empowered combination of hardware and software will take it from there (and take over from us). However, such wisdom and debate are simplistic in a number of ways: firstly, this is a poor definition of the singularity; secondly, it muddles various notions of intelligence; thirdly, competing arguments are rarely based on shared axioms, so are frequently pointless; fourthly, our models for trying to discuss these concepts at all are often inconsistent; and finally, our attempts at describing any ‘post-singularity’ world are almost always limited by anthropomorphism. In all of these respects, professional ‘futurists’ often appear as confused as storytellers who, through freer licence, may conceivably have the clearer view: perhaps then, that becomes a reasonable place to start. There is no attempt in this paper to propose, or evaluate, any research hypothesis; rather simply to challenge conventions. Using examples from science fiction to illustrate various assumptions behind the AI/singularity debate, this essay seeks to encourage discussion on a number of possible futures based on different underlying metaphysical philosophies. Although properly grounded in science, it eventually looks beyond the technology for answers and, ultimately, beyond the Earth itself.

Item Type: Article
Divisions: Applied Science, Computing and Engineering
Depositing User: Hayley Dennis
Date Deposited: 30 Oct 2018 11:46
Last Modified: 30 Oct 2018 11:46

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