The Singularity is Never

The IEEE Spectrum has a rational counter argument to the singularity crowd who believes that technology is on a runaway performance increase. See: . For me, this is a long needed reality check to the optimistic singularity promotion that has been occurring.

The author appeals to the experience of his own life compared to that of his grandmother. He points out that the changes in technology since the 50s have been more in scale than in kind, while his grandmother’s generation experienced major changes in technology that brought entirely new products and services to bear. I would go further and point out that, while changes in scale could become runaway if they were to happen in the way the singularity followers describe, the reality is that for an “apparent” linear increase in capabilities we have had to apply that exponential growth already.

The amount of technology required to solve new problems seems to be running away just as fast as we scale the technology behind those solutions. In my field it is hard *not* to notice the brick wall that clock speeds have reached and that all of the speed gains are being pushed into other aspects of the silicon. The problem is that there are more brick walls rapidly approaching… in a way, my experience to date with computers was similar to the article author’s grandmother experiencing general technological growth. Worse, it appears that we are rapidly approaching the endpoint of that period of rapid growth in computing and the majority of technological advances that I have experienced in my lifetime were founded upon better computing.

Hopefully we can find ways to continue improving the quality of life for people in other ways once the computational engines stop growing in power and making for “easy” gains.That thought is about as far as you can get to the singularity.