The term singularity has been thrown around quite a bit lately. From futurist Ray Kurzweil and made popular by Vernon Vinge, it has dominated many topics of discussion. Regardless of who is talking about it, I have to wonder if we are looking at the singularity the wrong way.
In science fiction, now more science, the term technological singularity is defined as follows (from Wikipedia): The technological singularity is a hypothetical event related to the advent of genuine artificial general intelligence (also known as “strong AI”). Such a computer, computer network, or robot would theoretically be capable of recursive self-improvement (redesigning itself), or of designing and building computers or robots better than itself on its own. Repetitions of this cycle would likely result in a runaway effect – an intelligence explosion– where smart machines design successive generations of increasingly powerful machines, creating intelligence far exceeding human intellectual capacity and control. Because the capabilities of such a superintelligence may be impossible for a human to comprehend, the technological singularity is the point beyond which events may become unpredictable or even unfathomable to human intelligence.
There is quite a bit to digest in that paragraph, but it basically says that at some point in the future we will invent AI, and from there if the AI is capable of getting smarter, and self-improving, it will continue to do so at an accelerated rate. Eventually it will reach super intelligence, which could possibly be beyond anything we as humans could imagine. This sounds both amazing and scary at the same time, and many of these reasons I have talked about numerous times so I will not repeat them in this post.
With all that being said, what if the singularity is not technological at all. What if the singularity is a point where the social structure we have built up over many hundreds and thousands of years suddenly changes forever. What if the singularity is more of a social revolution instead of an advancement in technology?
While the technological singularity may still be real and come to pass, I think that there is another social singularity that will happen before the technological one. In the past few years there seems to be a grown trend of those that are beginning to challenge authority and seem to go against the grain of society in a variety of ways. (Geesz I sound like an old geezer. Hey you damn kids get off my lawn and cut your hair!) From the events that have taken place on the University of Missouri campus, to the revolution of transgender awareness, to those that want to do away with the first amendment. I do not want to get into a political debate, but I just want to discuss the social changes that I see. I am not sure where society is heading, in terms of what is social acceptable. Being bullied is a real problem, kids are often times meaner than adults could ever be. I was bullied growing up, I would assume that everyone (all two of you) reading this were bullied to some extent. Yet I always see it as a part of growing up, that is just what happens when you are a kid. The big question is how do you deal with it? I do not ever remember anyone in my age group committing suicide because of being bullied. I am not judging or condemning the act one way or the other, just making an observation. I will say that there was no such thing as cyber bulling when I was growing up. However, if that is an issue he is a very complex and insane solution. GET OFF SOCIAL MEDIA!!! There problem solved, well the bullying may still occur, but at least you wont have to be exposed to it.
I also cannot remember a time when everything you say is over analyzed to a point where it is very difficult to say what you mean without stepping on someone’s toes. Even Tina Fey is tired of this cultural phenomena, apologizing for everything you say. Yes, I know what words hurt and there are certain things that you cannot say and cannot do. But when did everyone become so sensitive, when did you have to be so careful of everything you say for fear of ridicule?
While I do not necessarily agree with the “PC Culture” I guess you would call it, is this something that will change our society going forward. I do not have an answer for that, but I am genuinely concerned about the future. After seeing the video of the students at Yale university signing a petition to repeal the First Amendment, I am very concerned as to their logic behind their decision. Not only that but Yale is one of the most prestigious universities in the world. If this is how some of the best and brightest minds are thinking, I am not only scared but horrified for the future. I know we were all young once and as young people often make some very silly decisions, I certainly hope that with a little time they realize what they are saying.
My other concern, and a catalyst for driving this singularity is the youth. I say that as an elderly 30 year old. But at the heart of much of this debate is the youth of our country. If this is an issue, is there something wrong with our education system, or are their other societal changes that are affecting them more than the rest of us? From the events at Missouri University as well as Yale, what is going to happen when these individuals graduate and transition into the work force. Will their ideas begin to slowly transform society as the younger generation makes the transition.
There is certainly a possibility that that could happen. Eventually some of these individuals will hold public office and that is where the ideas of this generation could very well begin to influence society to the greatest extent. I am not saying that this ideas are wrong, well… I guess I am. Honestly I am not saying they are wrong, just I do not agree with them. Sorry Yale students, the First Amendment is here to stay. Without it I could not write on this blog. The events that transpired at MU are somewhat baffling to me. I am not condoning or damming the actions of what happened. However, I think by the president resigning he sent a message to the snot nose students brats that all they have to do is strike and or whine to get what they want. While I do think they had a point to some extent, I feel that the way they went about it was wrong.
As I have said before, I know technology changes fast, but society is even faster. Based on the current trend, I believe that the social singularity will take place well in advance of the technological one. I would even argue that the foundation is already in place and waiting to be built upon. It has been approximately 50 years since the last sort of social revolution. I would argue that the 1950’s and 60’s was a very turbulent time when it came to social issues. I feel like this is a very important aspect of our future that is overlooked and just assumed that it will be mostly the same. I wonder why we have overlooked this aspect? Or are societal change something that happen so slowly that we never even notice they are changing?