Hindrances to the Singularity

Despite all that I have written about the time table for the Singularity and being what I call a ‘Sing’ or a person that believes the singularity is coming there are things that can prevent the singularity from happening.

Depending on your point of view the singularity and anything blocking the singularity may be a good or a bad thing.

  • The rise of the Luddites
    • Luddites, or people who want to stop technology at a certain level and say, “That’s good enough for me” are on the rise.  Many groups are coming in to existence that are anti-technology, anti-science, and anti-education/knowledge.  There is no doubt that these people have a considerable power in numbers and a lack of understanding of what technology and science are, what they can do, and if it is a danger to them.  Luddites will increase in numbers as we proceed on the curve of knowledge, science, and technological capabilities and larger numbers of people are displaced from the market place.  In a free market or even controlled markets there are no people standing up and saying, “Hey, we should figure out what we are going to do with the people are now unemployed because flipping burgers is going to be done by machines over the next 5 years.”  That is a big problem.
  • Religion
    • Religion may or may not be accompanied by Luddites; however, there are some specific issues in which religion in general may push back against technologies that occur on the road to the singularity.
      • Creating life.  Religion and the religious may object to the creation of life (in any form) through the use of technology.  Designer microbes to clean the environment, human and animal cloning, hybridization of different species, copying of human minds to computer simulations (codops), and a whole host of other ideas that may be put in the “this is god’s realm, not man’s.  Men should not play gods.”
      • Extension of life.  Codops of course offer one potential path to immortality; however, it is not the only one.  In fact, at the rate that medical technology is increasing it is ever more likely that our lives may be extended for specific periods of time, and then during that time new technologies come out and extend our lives even longer.  Like Louis Wu from Ringworld as unlikely as it may seem – the first physically immortal (from natural causes of death) may have already been born.
      • The major branches of religion finally having enough each other – decide to figure out who’s god is the real one.
    • War.  As humanity becomes more powerful and wars more likely due to population pressures, environmental pressures, or even just the mass of cultural differences in different parts of the world the potential of humanity ending itself increases in the number of possible paths.  For example: it is common knowledge that a nuclear war could potentially wipe out the vast majority of humanity and put in to question the survival of the rest of humanity.  However; humanity’s hobby of war reaches all segments of technology.  You don’t need a fully functioning AI to create machines that can kill off the vast majority of humanity.  And if, like in the movies “Screamers”, these mechanical devices are given the ability to reproduce we (WE) can make things difficult for humanity’s survival.  Humanity may start living in the near-by solar neighborhood – and the idea of chucking rocks at Earth until the governments of Earth capitulate is an old one in science fiction.  This section isn’t meant to be all-inclusive.  I suspect I will write an article on the future of war and it will be very long.
    • Environmental collapse.  I used to run simulations when I was a kid.
      • If I had x fuel and I had y efficiency – how far could I drive?  What if I drove for n miles at y efficiency for half of my fuel and then discovered a way to double my efficiency?  Then I could drive for n miles at y efficiency and then n*2 for the remaining fuel, but having consumed half of my fuel (again) I find that I have doubled my fuel efficiency again.  So, I drove n miles at y efficiency and half of my fuel, n miles again consuming 1/4 of my remaining fuel, and then n miles again consuming 1/8 of my fuel.  Sadly, even though my efficiency keeps getting better, the amount of fuel remaining dwindles.  It is funny how at the end, perhaps one more generation where I consume 1/16th of my fuel to go n miles – I could have gone so much further if I had just had the high level of efficiency from the beginning.
      • It is the same way with pollution.  I may be able to make great strides in reducing pollution and continue to make great strides in reducing pollution, but none of those great strides in reducing pollution removes the pollution that was created at the earlier levels.  Just like increased efficiency does not bring back the fuel used at previous levels of efficiency.
      • We may come to a point where we have damaged the biosphere so much that even though we are much better with the current level of technology – it simply isn’t enough to enable humanity to survive.
      • Then there is the asshole rule.  It states that if you drive a car to save the world that gets 80 mpg, some asshole out there is going to buy a hummer that gets 10 mpg and pretty much removes the gains of you driving an efficient vehicle – and a bunch of other people driving efficient vehicles.  Unfortunately, there are people with a lot of money that can afford the Hummer or whatever other high fuel usage vehicles – and even though they are 1% of the population, their excesses are more than enough to counter the efficiency of people trying to save fuel, prevent pollution, and make the world a better place.  The asshole comes in many forms and may been on the surface ethical, but then manage to have a 10 car group accompany them on a trip – using all that extra fuel even though they are using fuel efficient vehicles.

I’m sure we can come up with many other ways that can prevent the singularity.  Perhaps some of the technological premises are wrong and we hit a wall in increases of technological ability or we find that the human brain is much more complicated than we thought and we can’t replicate the processes inside the brain.

I have confidence in the human race – homo sapiens sapiens.  Hopefully, we can bring about the existence of the next stage of humanity – the slans, without us trying to wipe them all from existence.

One thought on “Hindrances to the Singularity

  1. codopfreedom April 28, 2015 / 12:23 am

    Another point that I just realize in reading an article on the internet – that it is possible that governmental regulations to protect “the masses” could slow down the singularity.


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