Today’s Wonder of the Day was inspired by jose. jose Wonders, “what is a singularity” Thanks for WONDERing with us, jose!
Yes, technology moves quickly. And it’s likely to keep doing so. With artificial intelligence (AI), people have even built machines that can learn and grow smarter.
This makes some WONDER—just how smart can technology become? Will machines keep learning without end? Could they even one day surpass human intelligence? Many experts say yes. They call this the technological singularity—the point at which machines will become smarter than humans.
How will the singularity affect life as we know it? It’s the job of futurists to try to find out. A futurist is a person who makes predictions based on facts about the world today. And modern futurists have a lot to say about the singularity.
Some futurists are hopeful about the singularity. Google’s Ray Kurzweil says AI could pass human intelligence in the next 30 years. However, he sees the singularity as a chance to improve human intellect, too.
How could that be possible? Kurzwel believes people could link machines to the human neocortex. That’s the area of the human brain that handles higher-order thinking. This could allow people to increase their brain capacity. Future humans might store endless knowledge and memories in this way.
Kurzweil isn’t alone. Many people agree with his hope for the future. But others are more cautious about the singularity. Stephen Hawking, Elon Musk, and Bill Gates have warned that life after the singularity may look very different.
What’s their concern? Louis Rosenberg, the CEO of Anonymous AI, sums it up. He says that robots with intelligence beyond that of human beings could be dangerous. He compares it to a visit from alien life forms. What would the robots' interests be? Would they have morals? If so, would they be the same as those of humans? If so, which humans? Could they threaten human life? There’s no way to know.
For some, this idea conjures up science fiction films. They picture cruel robots that lord over the human race. Is this the future we’re headed for? We sure hope not. What do you think? Put your futurist hat on and make a prediction of your own!
Standards: CCRA.L.3, CCRA.L.6, CCRA.R.1, CCRA.R.2, CCRA.R.4, CCRA.R.10, CCRA.SL.1