Archive for March, 2006

Vernor Vinge and The Coming Technological Singularity

Tuesday, March 7th, 2006

Sometimes I make dark allusions to an Internet index being the germ of a sentient artificial being which will grow to enslave us all. I’m an admittedly pessimistic person, but I think it’s almost inevitable. As a proponent of an open index, I’m a shill for our future overlords, but if I’m going to get to select who becomes my master, I’d prefer a benign one dedicated to public service. The problem with a distributed index, is that it has no obvious ‘off’ switch.

In 1993, science fiction author and mathematician Vernor Vinge wrote The Coming Technological Singularity.

‘Technological singularity’ refers to that point in time – perhaps in the next 20 years, when the technology we have invented becomes smart enough to surpass us in creation. At that point, we become obsolete.

I really do see a comprehensive index as being a significant component of a superhuman intelligence. After all, it is the point of access to human knowledge and experience; a magnificent database. Usually, I feel a little shiver of dread – I believe that an evolved intelligence owes us no more allegiance than we owe our evolutionary ancestors and companions.