LeapMind

This is part of IEEE Spectrum’s SPECIAL REPORT: THE SINGULARITY

Image: Bryan Christie Design

I think it’s likely that with technology we can in the fairly near future create or become creatures of more than human intelligence. Such a technological singularity would revolutionize our world, ushering in a posthuman epoch. If it were to happen a million years from now, no big deal. So what do I mean by ”fairly near” future? In my 1993 essay, ”The Coming Technological Singularity,” I said I’d be surprised if the singularity had not happened by 2030. I’ll stand by that claim, assuming we avoid the showstopping catastrophes—things like nuclear war, superplagues, climate crash—that we properly spend our anxiety upon.

In that event, I expect the singularity will come as some combination of the following:

The AI Scenario: We create superhuman artificial intelligence (AI) in computers.

The IA Scenario: We enhance human intelligence through human-to-computer interfaces—that is, we achieve intelligence amplification (IA).

The Biomedical Scenario: We directly increase our intelligence by improving the neurological operation of our brains.

The Internet Scenario: Humanity, its networks, computers, and databases become sufficiently effective to be considered a superhuman being.

The Digital Gaia Scenario: The network of embedded microprocessors becomes sufficiently effective to be considered a superhuman being.