The Singularity Meme

“Things will never be slower than they are right now.” Beth Comstock

The Singularity is a meme, or deep concept, describing the exponential rate of change in our knowledge base wrought by new scientific and technological discoveries.

Vernor Vinge’s 1993 predictions (Vernor Vinge, 1993, The Coming Technological Singularity: How to Survive in the Post-Human Era) were frightening, as were von Neumann’s in the 1950’s. In the 80’s and 90’s these ideas were catapulted to global awareness with movies like the Terminator and the Matrix. While Vinge’s concerns focused on artificial intelligence (AI), the truth is that we have entered the rapidly changing portion of the curve above for technology and science as a whole. It doesn’t matter whether you are speaking of physics, material science, engineering, biomedicine, or any field of human knowledge. All are growing exponentially. The great unknown awaits.

The oldest and strongest emotion of mankind is fear, and the oldest and strongest kind of fear is fear of the unknown. H. P. Lovecraft

Today’s rapid changes invoke fear, but fear is just a way for our psyches to say PAY ATTENTION. Information density and flow rates have exploded over the past three decades. Keeping up, even in a specific technical area, can feel like a lost cause. A few years ago, a colleague coming back to my industry said that even with only five years away from our profession, it felt like he was trying to drink from a firehose. Our young must develop strong filters to learn things in depth, and separating the real from fake news will be a paramount skill.

Take a deep dive and learn more about this meme and curve, and see the timeline annotated in this quarter’s Wonk (Expert) article. Discover a philosophy of happiness and success, and avoid one of despair. Innovate and Create. Find the optimism by joining us in this exciting adventure into the unknown. Let’s make magic!!!