The Technological Singularity is the hypothetical phenomenon expected as a consequence of the exponential growth of information-based technologies. As the Singularity gets closer and ultimately arrives, changes in the mode of human life will be so overwhelming that human affairs as we know them will be unable to continue. A new chapter of human history will then begin.
WelcomeSingularity is a non-profit singularian organization with a pragmatic vision of this coming future. Its mission is to engage the largest possible number of software developers to help build safe paths toward the Technological Singularity.
WelcomeSingularity shares the vision that the best way to build these secure paths is to allocate resources to create Intelligence Amplification (IA) technologies leveraged by Artificial Intelligence (AI). If this view proves to be correct, the community of “singularian software developers” will play a key role in planning and executing actions to create and master the “new language” we will need to manipulate more complex conceptual layers in non-biological neocortex-based arrangements.
Through a collaborative worldwide network, WelcomeSingularity acts: (1) involving and mobilizing software developers to popularize the concepts of the Technological Singularity hypothesis; (2) explaining, discussing and defending the choice for the Intelligence Amplification way and its relations with Artificial Intelligence; and (3) supporting projects for developing software applications based on Intelligence Amplification paradigms.
See more at The WelcomeSingularity Manifesto.
“Singularian Devs” is a global project that promotes small actions around the world to popularize the Technological Singularity hypothesis among software developers for making them “Singularian Developers”. The WelcomeSingularity also organizes regional or virtual clusters so-called “DevsOnSingularity” to discuss Singularity-based issues. (See more)
“Smart Code for Everyone” is a global project of the WelcomeSingularity whose goal is to empower the largest possible number of non developer people – specially children and young people – in the use of software tools which solve decision problems using optimization, statistics and machine learning techniques.
The WelcomeSingularity joins professionals to create, monitor and update effective training methodologies for this special target audience. Once defined the pedagogical lines and methodologies, the training should be delivered by other nonprofits, governments, welfare organizations, or other ones. The WelcomeSingularity performs the official seal and also intermediates the fundraising for organizations interested in join the project. (See more)
“Qualia Project” is an open source project of whose main goal is to build a software developer community that manipulates complex conceptual layers of neocortex-based algorithms.
“Qualia” is an intelligent personal assistant that gives the owner the opportunity to train and develop a functionally usable personal avatar. Once trained, this avatar can make complex decisions and answer subjective questions in the same way that its owner would. Training can evolve until the owner feels secure that his/her Qualia can help or possibly replace him/her in some decision-making.(See more)
The following FAQs are designed to give software developers (DEVs) a better understanding of the essence of and the challenges associated with the Technological Singularity event. Here, some figures that can help to understand the concepts.
The Technological Singularity, or simply the Singularity, is a future event that has potential to cause something like “the end of the world as we know it”.
The Singularity can be defined as the future hypothetical phenomenon expected as a consequence of the exponential growth of information-based technologies. It should be seen as part of an even greater and wider “evolutionary process of information arrangements” and it is going to happen as soon as the processing capacity of computers surpasses the cognitive processing capacity of human brains.
As the Singularity gets closer and ultimately arrives, changes in the mode of human life will be so overwhelming that human affairs as we know them will be unable to continue. This milestone will abruptly change the way we interact socially, the way we organize and record our thoughts and even our physical appearance. Therefore, if it is true that humans are bio-psychosocial beings, then the Technological Singularity has the potential to start a new chapter of human history.
Because of its revolutionary nature, the Singularity is intrinsically associated to some threats. Among them, the unlikely, but possible risk of losing our place at the top of the evolutionary chain.
Moreover, we are fast approaching this theoretical moment in time but we cannot clearly perceive it because the dynamics of its approach is against our intuition.
A contentious issue which involves value and paradigm changes are controversies over “when” it will occur or even “if” it will occur. However, despite the divergences surrounding the Technological Singularity, this is a topic that should be placed on the global agenda for discussion if we consider just what is at stake. Because of its possible consequences, it is worth being studied, discussed and publicized.
No it is not. It is very common to confuse the “event” of the Technological Singularity with the “process” of continuous changes caused by emerging technologies. All these technologies – nanotechnology, biotechnology and all information-based technologies – are naturally linked with the event, but the essence of the Technological Singularity is to be a abruptly break for this process.
The logic of this coming rupture is pretty simple. Technological changes have been happening continuously for a long time but the novelty is that the pace of change is proceeding at a new amazingly fast level. This constantly accelerating pace of change will inevitably lead us toward a moment where a kind of “discontinuity” will be inevitable.
Although the Singularity represents a break for the current technological paradigm, it should be seen as one more stage in the transition of a broader process that has been unfolding since even before human beings appeared. Despite the expected discontinuity in the technological process, this broader evolutionary process will continue its course in an involuntary way.
Discontinuity is a concept borrowed from mathematics. It is an abstraction that means that at a certain point, the variable that is being investigated does not exist or its value is infinite. When we use mathematics to model any phenomenon – whether physical or social – discontinuities must be interpreted case by case. For example, in physics, the discontinuities of the equations governing the gravitational laws have their own explanations and specific names such as black holes and the big bang.
Therefore, discontinuities are mathematical abstractions that become freaks in the real world because at a certain point – or near this point – real things do not make sense. In this case, what will make no sense near the Technological Singularity will be the huge amount of “available additional intelligence” or, in other words, the cognitive ability beyond that which we have with our brain.
We have been experiencing a bit of this “availability” by living with some intelligent devices, but not only physical devices will become intelligent. Algorithms and processes within the cloud will be intelligent as well. At the current pace of change, we will see soon a explosion of the supply of so-called “Intelligent Non-biological Entities” (INBEs).
Therein lies the discontinuity. We cannot forecast what would happen when the value of the available amount of “intelligence” goes to infinity. Even though intelligence is a concept that we invented with our own… intelligence. Any attempt to predict becomes recursive.
Yes, there are risks. We could say that changes will be profound and abrupt enough that most of the scientists involved in this global discussion consider the extinction of human race among various possible scenarios. This is very unlikely to happen, but it is a theoretically possible hypothesis.
Although frightening, this kind of risk is not exactly something new for us. There is a list of well-known events which also have had the potential to destroy humanity. The Technological Singularity joins the list that has already included external threats such as asteroids; biological threats such as lethal viruses; a nuclear war; a chemical warfare and the degradation of the planet’s climate.
There are risks, but we will not want to fight against technologies that bring us well-being because it is all that mankind has always sought. This is a curious feature of the Technological Singularity. Its paradoxical nature.
In fact, these technologies lead us toward a collective welfare utopia that brings us a well-being that can be accessible to any citizen regardless of race, religion or social class. This “collective well-being” is at the root of just about all religions and has fueled historical causes such as the Enlightenment, the communism and, more recently, the struggle for the planet’s sustainability. Despite the fact that it could be riskier, we will not want to avoid it.
To better understand this paradox, we need to look at the event in two moments.
In a first moment, next to arrival of the Technological Singularity, the world will turn into an awesome place. Thanks to technology, there will be collective utopia, such as we have never experienced before.
The world economy will double in a very short time. Maybe each week. Our relationship with what we call “work” will change radically and wages will decrease rapidly. All of this abundance will be spread and universalized. The benefits will be accessible to most people on the planet. Some of the greatest scourges of mankind like misery, poverty and violence will be virtually eradicated. All of today’s hot topics such as greenhouse gases, sustainability, food supplies, drinking water supply and energy will be handled and definitively resolved. It will be the world of telepathic communication, holographic presentations, instant knowledge absorption, reprogramming DNA… and “practical immortality”.
Further ahead we will meet a kind of “wall” represented by the discontinuity. An opaque wall beyond which we cannot see today because we do not have tools to deal with it. At this time, we will finally understand what “game” nature is playing with us.
Somehow, yes. To get and keep this huge wellness, we will digitize everything that will be possible and get all the processing power we will can. The more processing power we have, the more “intelligence” will be available and the greater will be our sense of well-being and our euphoria. It will see the same dependency mechanism of a drug addiction.
Just as we have accepted and have been getting used to trusting the additional intelligence we need for “Intelligent Non-Biological Entities”, we will also “accept” and then will get used to coexisting with “Conscious Non-Biological Entities” (CNBEs).
It’s worth noting that intelligence and consciousness are different concepts. Intelligence is about cognitive abilities and consciousness is about individuality and purpose.
Then, when a trivial device has the necessary processing power and algorithms to surpass the processing capacity of the human brain, there will be no theoretical limitations to “Conscious Non-Biological Entities” creating new “Conscious Non-Biological Entities”. Thereafter, there will always be the possibility to continue our journey as passengers.
We do not have that much time. Basically we have a great chance to witness this moment because of two reasons:
Firstly, because the Technological Singularity will arrive much earlier than our intuition tells us. Technology feeds itself with an exponential increase and our mind does not deal with this as effectively as it does with linear calculations. Hence we cannot clearly forecast how long it will take and we tend to think it will still take a great deal of time, but it is closer than we imagine.
Secondly, because of a huge increase for the human life expectancy that is expected. Over the past 30 years, our life expectancy, in average, has increased in five months for each year that has elapsed. Such pace of increase will increase even more. Forecasts show that by 2030 this pace will be about twelve months for each new year.
So, we have a better chance to witness this moment although it seems far away. Therefore, it is important to start thinking about it now. More and more people have been thinking and discussing it. Companies like Google and organizations like NASA have taken the lead and have even founded a university just to discuss it. The academic world is also moving on this issue.
Firstly, having a pragmatic vision of it all.
At critical moments like this one, it is common to observe very different opinions and behavior. Skeptic, alarmist and profiteering people will come on public, but it will also come people who can assume the charge of the situation. In a shipwreck, they bring down the lifeboats, organize the queues and think about how to find a way out. Listen to those people last. We can still build a safe path toward the Technological Singularity but we must start acting now.
The non-profit organization “WelcomeSingularity” has a pragmatic vision of the Technological Singularity event. Its vision is based on three beliefs:
1. What will happen after the Technological Singularity depends on the paths we choose today.
2. It is still possible to build a safe path toward the Technological Singularity by performing actions which promote: research, development and the widespread use of applications based on Intelligence Amplification (IA).
3. Software developers will have a key role in planning and execution these actions.
Intelligence Amplification (IA) is a programming technique which seeks to create programs that act by increasing the abilities of human beings to manipulate signs or units of knowledge, that means increasing their cognitive potential to solve complex problems.
Intelligence Amplification is often confronted or even confused with Artificial Intelligence (AI). In a simplified definition. “Artificial Intelligence is a programming technique that seeks to create programs and machines which can learn”.
In practical terms it is difficult to distinguish whether there is an intersection between these two approaches or even whether both are disconnected parts of the same set so-called “Computational Intelligence” (CI). In fact, it is worth noting that one can take advantage of advances in the other, so we can say that these two techniques are somehow coupled.
The main philosophical distinction between Intelligence Amplification and Artificial Intelligence is the role that human beings play in each technique. While in Artificial Intelligence human beings are the targets to be copied and then surpassed, in Intelligence Amplification human beings are the center of all concerns.
Humans are about to create and master a new “language.” It will not be enough just to share among us the current range of conceptual layers limited by the biological neocortex. We will have to create more conceptual layers in a hypothetical artificial neocortex to “amplify our intelligence” in order to retain an understanding of all those codes of the increasingly complex world near to the Singularity.
Hence, the community of “singularian software developers” will play a key role in planning and executing actions to create and master the new language we will need to manipulate more complex conceptual layers in non-biological neocortex-based arrangements.
Software developers (DEVs) can act by:
. Adhering to the “WelcomeSingularity Manifesto” and acting according to its principles.
. Helping to develop the open source projects supported by WelcomeSingularity.
. Organizing regional or virtual clusters so-called “DevsOnSingularity” to discuss Singularity-based issues.
The three classic papers below were pioneers in their respective approaches regarding Technological Singularity. Reading them gives software developers (DEVs) a deeper and contextualized view of the subject, but should be done keeping in mind when they were written. This is a way for the Singularian Devs to acknowledge the pioneer contribution of Vernor Vinge, Ray Kurzweil and David Chalmers in their respective areas.
The Coming Technological Singularity: How to Survive in the Post-Human Era (1993) Vinge, Vernor.
Within thirty years, we will have the technological means to create superhuman intelligence. Shortly after, the human era will be ended. Is such progress avoidable? If not to be avoided, can events be guided so that we may survive? These questions are investigated. Some possible answers (and some further dangers) are presented. (see more)
The Law of Accelerating Returns (2001) Kurzweil, Ray.
An analysis of the history of technology shows that technological change is exponential, contrary to the common-sense “intuitive linear” view. So we won’t experience 100 years of progress in the 21st century — it will be more like 20,000 years of progress (at today’s rate). The “returns,” such as chip speed and cost-effectiveness, also increase exponentially. There’s even exponential growth in the rate of exponential growth. Within a few decades, machine intelligence will surpass human intelligence, leading to The Singularity — technological change so rapid and profound it represents a rupture in the fabric of human history. The implications include the merger of biological and nonbiological intelligence, immortal software-based humans, and ultra-high levels of intelligence that expand outward in the universe at the speed of light. (see more)
The Singularity: A Philosophical Analysis (2010) Chalmers, David.
(…) In what follows, I address some (of these) philosophical and practical questions. I start with the argument for a singularity: is there good reason to believe that there will be an intelligence explosion? Next, I consider how to negotiate the singularity: if it is possible that there will be a singularity, how can we maximize the chances of a good outcome? Finally, I consider the place of humans in a post-singularity world, with special attention to questions about uploading: can an uploaded human be conscious, and will uploading preserve personal identity? (see more)
S-Thinkers are writers, researchers, and entrepreneurs that are worried about Technological Singularity issues and whose contributions are recognized by the singularian community.
Natasha Vita More
|Hugo de Garis
Aubrey de Grey
The study of the Technological Singularity and its implications is just beginning. There are still many issues to be investigated and questions to be answered. Some of these concerns are discussed among the Singularian Devs in discussion forums such as those shown below.
How Much Time do We Have until the Technological Singularity Arrives?
We are approaching the time when the technological paradigm will surpass the biological in importance faster than our intuition tells us. This is because the human brain was evolved to perfectly simulate the hierarchical environment of our planet, but its resources for intuiting exponential processes are very poor. Our brain is organized with linear sequences of steps, which means that exponential thinking does not come naturally for us. The “Super Bread Dough” thought experiment” is a reflection about this issue. (get involved)
Would the Technological Singularity be Another Threshold Moment along the Universe Evolution?
“The story of evolution starts with a universe that is capable of encoding information”.If we consider the known story of the universe from the point of view of the encoding of information, we will find evidence to support the amazing hypothesis that the development of information arrangements is (or is somehow related to) the real “driving force” of the universe. The universe and its nature have always been interesting subjects. We know that it expands from order to disorder, but this rule is reversed under certain special circumstances. In specific “threshold moments,” parts of the universe are structurally reordered to allow the creation of new “entities” capable of encoding more complex information and replicating it more successfully. Would we be about to witness another threshold moment in this evolution? (get involved with the G+ community)
Why is it Impossible to See Beyond the Technological Singularity?
Science-fiction writers were the first people to feel the impact of the coming of Singularity. Despite being used to fantasizing about life years in the future, they realized that their most diligent extrapolations would soon result in the unknowable. This impossibility is also know as The Opaque Wall. Is this because a paradigm shifting event like Singularity makes extrapolations impossible? (coming soon)
 Adapted from Kurzweil’s 2012 book “How to create a mind”
What will happen after the Technological Singularity depends on the paths we choose today. Singularian Developers are moved by the belief that it is still possible to build a safe path toward the Technological Singularity by performing a set of small correct actions.
The actions are based on the following principles:
1. As the Technological Singularity is a contentious issue that involves value and paradigm changes, there are controversies over “when” it will occur or even “if” it will occur. Furthermore, the Technological Singularity, like natural and social phenomena, could fail to occur just because we can predict it and act on its causes in advance. However, despite the divergences surrounding the Technological Singularity, if we consider just what is at stake, this important topic should be placed on the global agenda for discussion. Because of its possible consequences, it is worth being studied, discussed and publicized.
2. Despite all emerging information-based technologies representing an increase collective well-being as their outcomes are incorporated into the human body, the “additional” cognitive abilities provided only by the computer and information sciences are the most relevant of those outcomes when considering the help they can give us to overcome the discontinuity represented by the Technological Singularity.
3. Although we cannot know for sure whether the Intelligence Amplification (AI) approach is really a safe way to overcome the Technological Singularity, on the other hand the “pure” Artificial Intelligence (AI) approach seems to be clearly unsafe because of the role humans play within its technique framework. While in Artificial Intelligence the human being is the target to be copied and then surpassed, in Intelligence Amplification the human being is the center of all concerns.
4. Despite the need to separate IA from AI, it is quite difficult to establish the boundary between the two techniques, because they are somehow coupled so that the one can take advantage of advances of the other. Therefore, it is also necessary that an active community of software developers oversees and practices “safe actions” to restrain the indiscriminate use of Artificial Intelligence techniques.
Through a collaborative worldwide network, WelcomeSingularity acts:
1. Involving and mobilizing software developers to disseminate the concepts of the Technological Singularity hypothesis in order to make them “Singularian DEVs”;
2. Explaining, discussing and defending the choice for the Intelligence Amplification way and its relations with Artificial Intelligence; and
3. Supporting and disseminating projects for developing software applications based on Intelligence Amplification paradigms.
The Singularian Developers can restrain the indiscriminate use of Artificial Intelligence by:
1. Prioritizing the development of software applications for companies and projects where the main goals are to increase the cognitive and the sensory abilities of human beings.
2. Identifying, making public and tracking the results of Artificial Intelligence projects where the goals are to simulate non-human states of consciousness.
3. Avoid developing software applications for projects where the main goals are to simulate non-human states of consciousness.
Think deeply about these principles and actions above. If you have any questions look for one of the meeting clusters we call “DevsOnSingularity” to clarify them and to argue with some of your software developer peers. Then, when you are ready become a signatory of “WelcomeSingularity Manifesto.”