The Singularity

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Silicon Valley Confronts the Idea That the ‘Singularity’ Is Here

The frenzy over artificial intelligence may be ushering in the long-awaited moment when technology goes wild. Or maybe it’s the hype that is out of control.

For decades, Silicon Valley anticipated the moment when a new technology would come along and change everything. It would unite human and machine, probably for the better but possibly for the worse, and split history into before and after.

The name for this milestone: the Singularity.

It could happen in several ways. One possibility is that people would add a computer’s processing power to their own innate intelligence, becoming supercharged versions of themselves. Or maybe computers would grow so complex that they could truly think, creating a global brain.

In either case, the resulting changes would be drastic, exponential and irreversible. A self-aware superhuman machine could design its own improvements faster than any group of scientists, setting off an explosion in intelligence. Centuries of progress could happen in years or even months. The Singularity is a slingshot into the future.

Read more of this NY Times article by David Streitfeld