The Singularity is a term referring to the point when Artificial Intelligence (or more specifically Artificial General Intelligence) will be at the same level as human intelligence. I feel that the term is often misunderstood and many people find the prospect of this dystopian and dehumanising. Technology has already changed our lives in unprecedented ways. When I think of technology, I don’t just think of hardware or software. For me, technology means problem solving or finding a much needed solution to a glaring limitation. When seen through this lens, it is clear that technology enhances and assists our lives. The world is much more connected then ever before and we have many applications (most of which are free) at our disposal to help us save time and money.
The beginnings of the first industrial revolution in the 18th century, via the inventions of the steam engine, spinning jenny and power loom, dramatically reduced the number of hours traditional labourers worked. This period was an unprecedented gamechanger in the evolution of humanity. Then the invention of the railroad, the development of an advanced network of roads, the move from the horse and cart to the automobile, the invention of electricity and the lightbulb negating the need for candles and oil lamps, the invention of the aeroplane, the invention of the radio and the telephone, and then the television and later the internet; the invention of all these things created solutions, made our lives easier, saved everyone time and money and enhanced the connectivity of the world.
For some, the Singularity is solely based around this concept of AI matching human levels of intelligence and the potential end of the human race. What many forget to understand are all the benefits of AI. Instead of this doom and gloom future, I see the continued development and enhancement of AI contributing to a more prosperous and peaceful world. I believe that technology via AI will make all jobs obsolete. A Post-Work society is unavoidable. Many people worry about such a situation and its perfectly understandable. Yet they are worrying about it from the limited paradigm of our current economic model of global capitalism. Lets try to view the bigger picture. What if technology became so advanced that it were to, by default, make economics and money obsolete? In a world where nothing is exclusive and all physical goods and services are unlimited and at zero cost, since technologies such as 3D/4D Printing, AI and data creation and mining, Nanotechnology, Genetic Engineering and Robotics would have contributed towards making such a world like this a reality.
In today’s world, most people’s primary worries are economic. Followed by their physical and emotional wellbeing. Followed by their hopes, dreams, desires and ambitions. A world of an unlimited abundance of everything at no cost would take care of our economic worries. A common worry of such a post-work Singularity future is how a lot of people who always had jobs would begin to develop serious psychological problems since much of their identity was always traditionally defined by their job. Yet when I envisage the Singularity and super advanced AI, I also believe that by that time every single cell in the body of each one of us will be completely understood at the most minute level. Each one of our bodies will be like smart data machines with highly advanced algorithms continually keeping track of the entire physical and emotional health of our body, and enabling us to maintain perfect optimum health via the nano-signalling and detection of decaying cells and any irregular and abnormal behaviour in our nervous system. Nobody would ever become ill or develop serious illnesses such as cancer. Our bodies will be merged and upgraded with technology. The latest AI developments will be merged in our own bodies. Everyone will be a SMART hyperconnected entity. And I would even go as far as saying that this would negate the need to eat, drink, sleep, experience temperature fluctuations or fatigue. Our consciousness and memory would be preserved, stored and enhanced. Yet all the limitations and shortcomings of our physical sensations would be transcended by technology. This technology won’t numb us or kill our empathy (I would even argue that it will augment our empathy and consciousness in unprecedented ways), but it will protect us from many mental health issues, which currently affect so many people around the world. Mental health will cease to be invisible as it is today and will be just as clear as our physical health. There will be no chasm between the two.
Furthermore technology extends to providing solutions to bigger issues, beyond paving the way for transhumanism and a post-work and post-capitalist society. Climate change and global environmental pollution (such as air, land and sea pollution) can all be reversed by technology. Technology has the power to eradicate all the plastic and polluting debris in our oceans. Technology has the power to purify the air in large cities. Dare I say technology even has the power to replenish and restore the environmental balance of the world. One day technology will enable humanity to be an interplanetary and intergalactic species.
In short, technology has the power to create solutions to all our current problems we experience today. It is easy to be cynical and look at how technology can also be destructive but if we are looking at technology in all its totality in providing solutions to all the most pressing struggles and limitations faced by many, then a post-work, post-scarcity, limitless, prosperous, and a perfectly level and peaceful world is more than achievable.
By Nicholas Peart
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