All blogs are property of authors and copying is not permitted.

Click image to one-click your copy of Soldiers of Fortune


Saturday, August 10, 2019


Posted by Author R. Ann Siracusa


Nobody really knows, but we [human beings] need to be thinking about what our universal, biological, and technological history of accelerating change could mean for the future and larger purpose of humanity.

If you’re a science fiction or fantasy writer and/or reader, you’re no doubt familiar with the general idea of The Singularity, a future world where machines are as intelligent or more intelligent than humans, with various outcomes. If not, Wikipedia defines The Singularity as:

A hypothetical future point in time at which technological
 growth becomes uncontrollable and irreversible, resulting in unfathomable changes to human civilization.

Don’t hold your breath. You don’t need to worry about it personally. It won’t happen until many or all of you reading this are long gone. But it will happen.

Since it’s not only a theory, but a highly controversial one, there are numerous definitions put forth by extremely brilliant people who study the phenomenal rate of technological change in the world and think about the future it could mean for the world. But let’s start simple.


The Singularity isn’t a new concept, although this name is. It is a phenomenon noted by many extremely brilliant people and a few not so brilliant.

Unless you’re deep into heavy-duty mathematics or physics, The Singularity actually means The Technological Singularity, which is essentially a theory about the accelerating rate of technological growth which will affect everyone in the world.

John von Neumann [1903 – 1957], Hungarian-American mathematician, physicist, and computer scientist, was the first to put the idea forward, although he didn’t refer to The Singularity.

“The point at which the accelerating progress of technology and changes in the mode of human life, gives the appearance of approaching some essential point in the history of the race beyond which human affairs, as we know them, could not continue."
Alan Turing [1912 – 1954], English mathematician, computer scientist, philosopher, and theoretical biologist wrote that machines will eventually surpass human intelligence.

     “Once the machine thinking method has started, it would not
     take long to outstrip our feeble powers. … At some stage
     therefore we should have to expect the machines to take

Ray Kurzweil [1948 – present], computer scientist and inventor, is possibly the best known proponent of the singularity. He brought the theory into mainstream thinking with a slightly different twist.
“A future period during which the pace of technological change will be so rapid, its impact so deep, that human life will be irreversibly transformed. Although neither utopian nor dystopian, this epoch will transform the concepts that we rely on to give meaning to our lives, from our business models to the cycle of human life, including death itself.”
It's a merger between human intelligence and machine intelligence that is going to create something bigger than itself. It's the cutting edge of evolution on our planet. One can make a strong case that it's actually the cutting edge of the evolution of intelligence in general, because there's no indication that it's occurred anywhere else.”
Kurzweil is more than a futurist who sits around and thinks. He is a computer scientist and inventor who has been on the forefront of pushing technology into the artificial intelligence era. 
Among his many accomplishments, he developed the technology behind the first flatbed scanner, he is a leading expert in speech recognition, and was the inventor of the first print-to-speech synthesizer. When his “speech-to-reading machine for the blind” was launched in 1976, it was credited by scientists as being the first device to successfully use artificial intelligence. He has many other credits in the fields of music and medicine, and a thirty-year track record in accurate predictions regarding technology.
Stephen Hawking [1942 - 2018]
British born Hawking, one of the most brilliant minds of the century, was a theoretical physicist whose theory of exploding black holes drew upon both relativity theory and quantum mechanics. His groundbreaking work in physics and cosmology and his books helped to make science accessible to everyone.
It's clearly possible for a something to acquire higher intelligence than its ancestors: we evolved to be smarter than our ape-like ancestors, and Einstein was smarter than his
     “Think of our DNA. In the last million years, our DNA hasn't
      changed at all. It's really much the same as it was in the
       jungle, a million, two millions years ago. But in the last 200
      years, our destructive capacities have increased many,
      many millions of times over. Why don't we see intelligent
      signals from outer space? Because in all likelihood, once
      the civilization reaches the point our civilization has
      reached, it destroys itself.
Hawking, among other top scientists, spoke out in 2014 about the possible dangers of artificial intelligence, or AI, which he reiterated at a technology conference in Lisbon, Portugal, in 2017. Speaking on the topic of Artificial General Intelligence, he stated:
"Success in creating AI would be the biggest event in human history. Unfortunately, it might also be the last, unless we learn how to avoid the risks." He
warned about a time in the future which this technology would be "Outsmarting financial markets, out-inventing human researchers, out-manipulating human leaders, and developing weapons we cannot even understand. We cannot know if we will be infinitely helped by AI, or ignored by it and sidelined, or conceivably destroyed by it."
Kevin Kelly [1952 – present], Editor, publisher, writer, conservationist and co-founder of Wired Magazine, defines the singularity as:
“The Singularity is the point at which “all the change in the last million years will be superseded by the change in the next five minutes.”
That about says it all.


Unfortunately, many people, even very smart ones, don’t understand the pace … that change is not just happening but accelerating. I learned very quickly when I retired that being out of the profession of urban planning for four or five years rendered my thirty-five years of experience almost useless.

As Ray Kurzweil writes, “The last 20 years are not a good guide to the next 20 years. We're doubling the paradigm shift rate, the rate of progress, every decade. This will actually match the amount of progress we made in the whole 20th century, because we've been accelerating up to this point.
The 20th century was like 25 years of change at today's rate of change. In the next 25 years we'll make four times the progress you saw in the 20th century. And we'll make 20,000 years of progress in the 21st century, which is almost a thousand times more technical change than we saw in the 20th century.”

Graph Credit: Waldir [CC BY-SA 3.0 [
The one thing that all of this requires is the development of Artificial General Intelligence. So far, the accelerating rate of technological advances has been limited by the human brain, which hasn’t changed much in recent millennia.

Today we have what is called applied or weak Artificial Intelligence. Machines which can do one or two highly contained tasks much faster and more accurately than humans, but is not able to perform the full range of cognitive abilities.

However, human ability to imagine and reflect on different scenarios, human obsession with linking minds, and the ever-increasing power of computers portend a future with Artificial General Intelligence and machines that could become more intelligent than human beings i.e. machines which have the capacity to understand and learn any intellectual task a human can.

Don’t relax yet. According to Wikipedia, there are at least forty organizations actively researching in AGI. China has recently announced its intent to become the AI/AGI leader in the world.


Whichever turns out to be the case – superintelligent machines, superintelligent humans, or a combination of machine and human superintelligence – something will happen to human society as a result of rapid technological growth. Some of those changes are already occurring, and many of us don’t even realize the vast impact of those changes have made and will continue to make, on human affairs.

Industry Utilizes Artificial Intelligence In Machines For Manufacturing

In 1961Unimate, an industrial robot invented by George Devol in the 1950s, became the first to AI machine to work on a General Motors assembly line. Its responsibilities included tasks deemed dangerous for humans.”    

Photo Source:

The Internet Connects Everyone In The World

The history of the internet is short but not in complexity. A lot happened leading up to the first communication with the Interface Message Processor [computer] going live in 1969. The use of the web grew slowly in the academic and research arenas until April 30, 1993, when the European Organization for Nuclear Research [CERN] put the web into the public domain.

Today, only 26 years later, over half the people in the world are internet users. According to Internet World Statistics, the total world population in 2019 is 7,718,223,209 [7.7 billion people]. Of that, 53.7 percent [4.4 billion people] are internet users in 2019.

Photo Source:    ▲

The first cell phone went on sale 35 years ago [1984] for $4,000

No one took the first cell phone seriously. It was merely a toy for rich people. Today, out of the world’s estimated 7 billion people, 6 billion have access to mobile phones. Only 4.5 billion have access to working toilets.

Photo source:

Today’s Smart Phones Have More Computing Power Than ENIAC, The 1,800 sq. ft. Computer That Sent Man To The Moon

ENIAC Computer that landed Apollo 11
Photo Credit: US Army
Photo source:

Cpl. Irwin Goldstein [foreground] sets the switches on one of ENIAC’s function tables at the Moore School of Electrical Engineering. [U.S. Army photo] 

People Around The World Already Allow Electronic Devices To Run Their Households
These devices turn on and off lights and appliances, provide monitoring away from home, remind us of things to do and close garage doors, Some refrigerators do our grocery lists. Those devices are capable of learning to adapt to voices and accents, to determine the things we like and dislike, etc.
And, by the way, Amazon staff can listen and Alexa can record what you are saying and has mistakenly mis-interpreted conversation as commands.
Image Credit: City of West Hollywood

Photo source:

China Is Positioning Itself To Be The World Leader In Artificial Intelligence And Artificial General Intelligence

In particular, the Chinese are perfecting facial scanning techniques using artificial intelligence to control the people. China expects to have 300 million surveillance cameras by 2020, over four times as many as the USA.

In some cities, Chinese Police are using face-recognition eye glasses to identify perpetrators of traffic violations and posting pictures publically. Fortunately, the glasses limited capability and only work well if the target doesn’t move for a few seconds. Mo doubt, Chinese scientists will fix that.Photo credit: ReutersPhoto source:
Paintings By Robot Artist Ai-Di Brought In Over $1 Million At Her 1st Solo Art Show

Ai-Di [named after the mathematician and computer pioneer Ada Lovelace] is the first realistic Artificial Intelligence humanoid robot artist.

Created by British inventor and gallery owner Adian Meller, in collaboration with robotics company Engineered Arts, Ai-Da can draw from sight thanks to cameras in her eyeballs and AI algorithms created by scientists at the University of Oxford that help produce co-ordinates for her arm to create art. She uses a pencil or pen for sketches, but the plan is for Ai-Da to paint and create pottery.Image Credit: Nicky JohnstonPhoto Source: robot-artist                                                                Photo source:  

Another AI Humanoid Robot named Xin Xiaomeng served a TV anchorwoman on China’s Xinhua state news agency in March 2019, delivering a one minute news story with a presentation that mimicked human facial expressions and mannerisms.         

Medical Miracles Include Merging Machines with Man 

Sounds incredible, doesn’t it. I envision draining one’s mind and consciousness into a mechanical brain or robot, sort of like siphoning gasoline out of a car. Maybe that’s what certain proponents of the singularity mean, but for now human and mechanical merging is a little less science-fiction-like.

Still, it is amazing when you think about how many artificial parts can be implanted in human being. In the sense of replacing human parts with artificial ones, we’ve been merging artificial parts into humans for a while. The next big step is mind-controlled artificial limbs, which is being researched as we speak. It may take a long time, but medicine is moving in the predicted direction.Photo Source: Wikipedia

Learning to mind-control an artificial hand

Photo source: uchicagomedicine.orgneurosciencesbrain-controlled


Ray Kurzweil, in his book The Singularity Is Near, states that the singularity is "a merger between human intelligence and machine intelligence [that] is going to create something bigger than itself.” 
When it comes, it will signal the end of the human era, simply because a new super-intelligence would continue to upgrade itself continually at a rate we can’t even comprehend.

If or when this superintelligence comes into being, through enhancement of human intelligence or through artificial general intelligence, the event will change, for better or worse, the world we live in and life as we know it today.
Personally, I believe that although significant changings will be happening faster than ever, most human beings won't even be aware of it at the time. Young people will pick it up as fast as ever, and older people will struggle keeping up, but it will be a "Can't see the forest for the trees" situation.
Converting oxygen to carbon dioxide for more than three quarters of a century
Travel to Foreign Lands for Romance and Intrigue
Facebook  Twitter  Website  AmazonLink



No comments:

Share buttons