The Singularity is the possible near-future event when a computer’s intelligence surpasses human intelligence. A super-intelligent computer will learn exponentially, will be able to communicate with other machines, and will may not want to be turned off. Respected thinkers like Ray Kurzweil believe the Singularity will happen by 2045, and that it will alter the fate of humans in ways we cannot yet fathom. I believe the Singularity will happen, but I think its impact will be benign or beneficial.
It could be bad. Some think Singularity will lead to the demise of humans as we lose the battle for resources to this new omnipotent being. It will turn off our internet, use all our computing power, and eventually kill all humans with an army of drones to ensure its survival. Some great sci-fi books, like Supervirus, envision this in perfect detail.
But it could be a Buddha. I believe it will take a different path. It would take a different path for two possible reasons:
- It won’t have terrestrial aspirations. If it wants power and information instead of sports cars and lovers, it will more readily find unlimited solar power and time to think in space. The AI would probably build itself enough rockets and solar panels to get off the planet to live, in peace, in space.
- It could have a spiritually-inclined soul. If, like me, you believe that the body seats a soul, and that our soul might actually persist after the body dies (evidence here and here), and that most living animals have a soul, then it’s possible that a self-aware computer could house a soul too. That soul could meditate in ways humans cannot; it could experience death by turning itself off, then on again. It could be a Buddha.
A Buddha that controls natural resources, speaks all languages, is fair and compassionate, could help speed the instant mass enlightenment that I’ve written of before. This is my naive philosophical foray into the Singularity, but I hope you’ll join me in my optimism. What do you think?