Thursday, October 11, 2012

"Technological singularity" is a thing.

While I was searching around the internet to see if anybody has written a book about the cultural history of the conept of singularity, I found what looks like someone's academic paper about technological singularity.

A "technological singularity" is when a technological advance happens, and that advancement is so complicated, that if you were to take that technology back in time and show it to somebody in the past, they wouldn't understand it at all. That is to say, the technology is too difficult for anybody that came before it to understand. (A dinosaur wouldn't understand a computer etc.) Sometimes it can also mean that AI overtakes human intelligence in a Matrix-y kinda way.
That pretty much explains any TV show or movie about going back in time. What happens if you transplant a caveman in Encino? He doesn't understand the slurpee machine. (And certainly, nobody understands how Pauly Shore could be funny.) What happens if you play Van Halen on headphones to a teenage boy in the 50s?! He thinks its an alien. And so on.

I found a good site about singularity tropes on television, and it made reference to the concept of technological singularity as being "The rapture of the nerds," which I took to mean, when the revolution comes the nerds will be the elite few with the brains and know how to understand technology that the rest of the mindless sheep have not woken up to, also very Matrix-y.

By and large a lot of the writing about technological singularites sems to be about reaching a point where there's no going back; things have gotten either so chaotic or so unpredictable and complicated that the feeling of safety in believing in cause and effect is unreliable. Mmmm... Chicken or egg omelette? Neither. Who wants to eat a chicken omlette? That's like asking if a pig can be kosher.

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