Be Aware: The Singularity is Near

Artificial intelligence would exceed human intelligence. Elon Musk once said that AI would grow vastly smarter than humans. Musk pointed out that AI would overtake the human race by 2025. In contrast, some experts say the rise of artificial intelligence would make the most of us to be better off over the next few decades, not replace, nor make humans extinct.

The singularity is a conceptual and meta-physical term. When it comes to a technological jargon, the singularity is often described as a point in time when innovation reaches critical mass. At critical mass, new innovation must be widely adopted. Technological growth explodes and shall be kept self-sustained at the singularity.

This connotation of reaching the singularity is sometimes articulated along with a bit of negative nuisance. For example, some says that technological growth becomes so big at the singularity to the extent that technologies become uncontrollable and irreversible. AI would have many positive impacts, but it could also result in unforeseeable negative changes to the human race.

We have to cope with AI. There is fear, uncertainty, and mixed feelings. AI, robots, and other innovations may put millions of us out of work in a few years. If we adapt well and if highly intelligent systems are well within the scope of our purposes, the future could be promising. We can rather focus on what humans are truly good at.

Raymond Kurzweil is one of living legends. He has had many great inventions. He also started an alternative education institute called Singularity University in 2008 along with Peter H. Diamandis, a founder of X Prize Foundation. Singularity University aims to educate, empower, and inspire leaders to leverage exponential technologies to solve humanity’s grand challenges. Two co-founders believed that exponential technological advancement could give anyone at anywhere the ability to create a positive impact.

For reference, Raymond Kurzweil has picked an example and argued that the technological advancement in medicine such as gene therapy and bio-informatics would help humans to continuously repair and replace defective components in our bodies and prolong life. Medical advancement would allow people to protect their bodies from the effects of aging and make life expectancy much longer.

The singularity comes with an important notion of self-directed learning and self-sustainable attribute. Superhuman intelligence is about to be invented through the amplification of collective human intelligence and the power of artificial intelligence. Superhuman intelligence is a good thing as it would bring many positive outcomes. Superhuman intelligence powered by AI would help humans solve complex problems and keep our inventive skills and creative souls to become more effective.

At the singularity, AI may have fundamentally different cognitive qualities and abilities than biological human intelligence. There are things that humans can do, but AI can’t. AI will be more capable, but still, there are things that AI can’t easily copy such as making moral decisions or inventing something on their will.

The idea of creating human-like technology has a long history to trace back. This idea emerged during and after World War II when scientists like Alan Turing, a British mathematician, discovered that machines could become more than just computing systems. The Turing Test is one of the most important philosophical cornerstones of artificial intelligence and modern computation.

During wartime, technology creted by mathematicians and scientists like Alan Turing helped to break the Nazi’s codes that were regarded unbrekable with human computation skills. It was unfortunate to lose one of the most innovative thinkers in the 20th century from accidental poisoning. His sexual orientation as a gay man was violating laws during that time to the extent putting him not only under stress but also to a criminal charge.

Turing’s story inspired many people to pursue their careers in artificial intelligence, make movies like the Imitation Game, and establish the Alan Turing Institute, one of largest national institutes for data science and artificial intelligence in the United Kingdom. It is a joint venture with leading universities including Oxford and Cambridge with initial £600M investment. The specific role of the Institute is to provide the expertise and fundamental research into data science and artificial intelligenceg that are needed to solve the complex real-world problems.

Perhaps, true artificial intelligence doesn’t exist yet. The word, the singularity, doesn’t stick to one specific meaning, elther. Scientists have laid down principles that have molded the historical record of the relationship between humans and the machines to solve the problems. It may all depend on the context. But, the singularity describes a future that technology growth is reaching out to a new level of massive advancement at one point.

Now, the notion of the singularity leaves the question whether we can control it or what not. Will we ever control the world with our minds or can we even take control of our future? Perhaps not. However, the consequences of the singularity and its potential benefit or harm to humans have been vastly debated over and over. Many tech companies like Google throw their weight behind a new school like the Singularity University or the Alan Turing Institute. That will help forerunners prepare for a future when machines become smarter than humans. We just don’t know when, but it will surely come.

The singularity Is near. In a few years, AI will help significantly speed up complex decision-making and make people more productive. AI will make humans smarter and more efficient. The singularity at the core may not be the ultimate no man’s land. Many researchers would agree that current forms of AI cannot have their own emotions, but they could mimic it. Hence, human Intelligence should also relate to adaptive learning and experience like machines do. There are many qualities in humans that AI cannot easily replace at any point in time, though.

One of the most important prerequisites for the singularity is education. We shall invest in education to train people for a new future. MIT alone invests $1 billion into a new school devoted to AI. Tech leaders spend nearly $20 billion on AI per year. There is no downturn in sight. If we understand what AI is capable of and understand the this domain well, we can start make further discernment of what AI can truly do, not that we just fear about it. More precisely, we must lead it.