Most people are familiar with the deluge of artificial intelligence (AI) apps that seem designed to make us more efficient and creative. We’ve got apps that take text prompts and generate art, and the controversial ChatGPT, which raises serious questions about originality, misinformation, and plagiarism.
Despite these concerns, AI is becoming ever more pervasive and intrusive. It’s the latest technology that will irreversibly change our lives. The internet and smartphones were other examples. But unlike those technologies, many philosophers and scientists think AI could one day reach (or even go beyond) human-style “thinking.” This possibility, coupled with our increasing dependence on AI, is at the root of a concept in futurism called “technological singularity.”
According to Study Finds, This term has been around for a while, having been popularized by science fiction writer Vernor Vinge a few decades ago. Today, the “singularity” refers to a hypothetical point in time at which the development of artificial general intelligence (AGI) – that is, AI with human-level abilities – becomes so advanced that it will irreversibly change human civilization.
It would mark the dawn of our inseparability from machines. From that moment on, we won’t be able to live without them without ceasing to function as human beings. But if the singularity comes, will we even notice it?
To understand why this isn’t the stuff of fairy tales, we need only look as far as recent developments in brain-computer interfaces (BCIs). BCIs are a natural beginning to the singularity in the eyes of many futurists, because they meld mind and machine in a way no other technology so far can.
Elon Musk’s company Neuralink is seeking permission from the Food and Drug Administration to begin human trials for its BCI technology. This would involve implanting neural connectors into volunteers’ brains so they can communicate instructions by thinking them.
Neuralink hopes to help paraplegic people walk and blind people see again. But beyond these goals are other ambitions. Musk has long said he believes brain implants will allow telepathic communication, and lead to the co-evolution of humans and machines. He argues that unless we use such technology to augment our intellects, we risk being wiped out by super-intelligent AI.