Kurzweil has been speaking about an upcoming singularity in
our human civilization around 2020 and he has just published a book
called Singularity is Near.
If this singularity happens a decade sooner or later, the expected
date is still too close for anyone to ignore it as just an issue
of distant future. In other words, just as the prediction of post-industrial
society by Daniel
Bell happened within the lifetime of his readers, this event
can happen the same way, in a very short span of time.
The impact of
the upcoming event will be way beyond what happened by the information
society, because it is a major rapture in human civilization, like
what I once wrote of intelligent
tools, as not just a stage in existing human society, but to
be comparable to the first making of tools by homo sapiens, that
separated humans from other primates, and such an upheaval and rupture
deserves a close understanding as to what it means for individuals,
nations, and the world at large.
understand what is a *singularity*? One example is the Big Bang.
As I once wrote about space
and cosmology, some people do not believe in the Big Bang theory
of the formation of the Universe and some others do not see it as
a singularity. But for those who think there was nothing before
the Big Bang, and we had a Universe after the Big Bang, when stars
were formed at an accelerated speed since that event, the singularity
point obviously is a real break from the continuum, whatever we
may call that continuum, Nothingness or Steady State or simply something
incomprehensible to us the children of the Universe.
as I noted above, is the tool making and how humans in a short span
of time evolved and the acceleration speed by which homo sapiens
distanced themselves from other primates, and as compared to the
lifetime of primates as a whole, it took a short time for us to
get very far from our Chimpanzee cousins. In other words, we left
them behind in the forests, when evolving at an accelerated speed.
that Kurzweil has been talking about is from humans to transhumans
which he thinks will start when the computer CPU can have the speed
exceeding the speed the human brain processes instructions and he
has shown by the way the CPU speed has increased progressively for
decades, that this point of singularity, where the CPU speed exceeds
the speed of human brain, is very close, almost two decades from
Thus the question
is that those who are in the advanced civilizations, and are prepared
for this point of singularity, will be like the ancestors of homo
sapiens primates who were tool-makers, and they will go with the
rapid train that will leave the current human conditions, when we
arrive at the point of singularity. All those who do not embark
the transhuman train at that point, will be like the Chimpanzees
who were left behind in the forest.
I think anyone in the world should pay attention to this event because
it will impact both those who know about it and are prepared for
it, and those who don't know about it and have no preparation for
In fact, I think
backward countries that were colonialized in the past, were because
of their natural resources and cheap labor, and because they had
the first two, they also earned the money which created a market
that additionally attracted some colonial firms to go to those regions
to sell products. Now if a country's natural resources are not of
interest and it has no suitable labor force for upcoming production
processes, that even at its low cost would be of interest to anyone,
the end result will be no real market of interest to any colonial
seller of products either, and the final result will be what we
see in some African countries that do not even some natural resources
of interest to anybody, and the national income has fallen and life
expectancy is less that thirty years for them, in a world where
the life expectancy is going way above 60 in the advanced countries.
about the upcoming singularity is that it will happen alongside
the growth of nanotechnology.
It is clear that advancements in nanotechnology means artificial
production of natural resources like oil. So it is not far fetched
to see that countries that are oil producers, during this period,
will lose the attraction they have because of oil, and they can
end up like the poor backward African countries that I noted, which
have no natural resource of interest to the world, and technologically
, are ages behind the post-industrial production.
In short all
backward countries, including those that because of some natural
resources like oil are still thriving, can easily be the backward
forest, and get left behind the other side of the singularity point.
The above means
that even countries like Iran, will not have a future if they cannot
build an advanced infrastructure for new technologies such as nanotechnology,
and complacency because of the oil money, can be detrimental to
the people of countries like Iran, and a national plan to prepare
for the upcoming singularity must be taken seriously.
Yes, the new
singularity means to be prepared to take any form in the future,
including non-biological forms, and being stuck in religious models
of thousands of years ago, can only make us unprepared to transform
into a transhuman identity, where reprogramming
our DNA, as noted by Kurzweil, is the first step in ending death,
the most devastating reality of human life, ever since humans achieved
*self-consciousness*, that allows us to recognize our *selves*,
and thus to be aware of the death of ourselves and other *selves*.
thinking, there is no *self* to die or live, but with self-consciousness,
yet physically being limited to biological reality, we have suffered
death, and made fables to assuage the pain of the death of ourselves
and our loved ones, without being able to overcome death, even though
yearning for immortality. The upcoming singularity, as Kurzweil
shows, puts an end to this plight of human life, and of course,
it is not without challenged of its own, but surely when the evolution
from primates to humans happened, the fear of challenges of human
life was no reason to stay behind and keep living like a primate,
which may not even be a choice!
Written: Sept 17, 2005
Republished: February 15, 2007