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An Introduction to the Singularity January 3, 2010

Posted by Summerspeaker in The Singularity, Transhumanism.
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On the internet these days you’ll find a marginal but significant community of people interested in the transformative potential of near-term technological developments. If you’re disappointed by what 2010 has to offer, look to us to raise your spirits about the future. Though a diverse lot, we share a conviction that advances in fields such as artificial intelligence and nanotechnology have meaningful odds of of fundamentally changing human reality within our lifetimes.  We call this point of transition the Singularity and ourselves Singularitarians or transhumanists. It goes way beyond flying cars and robotic maids to visions of abundance and immortality available to all.  2009 was an excellent year for us, with the production of two movies and continued publication of magazine launched in late 2008. The movement is swiftly gaining ground.

So where did all this fuss come from?

Way back in the 1940s, pioneer computer scientist Alan Turing dreamed of the day when machines would compete with humans in intellectual endeavors. Decades later, statistician I. J. Good explored the profound implications of the creation of superhumanly clever machines. He described a positive feedback cycle that would quickly lead to human irrelevance, with AIs applying their abilities to make themselves smarter and smarter. Wealthy inventor Ray Kurzweil has recently popularized the rise of superintelligence, presenting it as the natural continuation of the historical trend of exponential technological progress. He now devotes himself to spreading the good news about the Singularity. Though many disagree with his views and resent his iconic status, Kurzweil has shaped the existing transhumanist community more than anyone else.

As one would expect from a movement dominated by bourgeois white men, Singularitarians often uncritically endorse oppressive elements of the hegemonic culture. Kurzweil defends the capitalist system that made him rich as the best path to AI and flippantly imagines the end poverty as an automatic effect of coming technologies. The magazine h+ prints an enthusiastic and unquestioning article about sexbots beside the image of a red-lipped feminine face. This blog will analyze and critique the transhumanist scene from a queer anarchist perspective. I intend to place particular focus on bringing out the community’s vast potential for undermining gender while simultaneously highlighting its present heterocentrism and misogyny. I invite comments from all readers, especially those outside the existing movement. The future is too important to be left to us.

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Comments»

1. Zack M. Davis - January 7, 2010

I’m eagerly looking forward to this series.

2. Isaac J. - March 30, 2010

Is it me or is the Singularity being defined by a monopoly of white academics who proclaim new terms and scenarios at the drop of a hat? Women seem so few in number as having a voice in media with regards to the Singularity. Odd now that women have overtaken men as entering higher education. I suspect a sort of “Singularity Club” is forming in which white male academics in control of white male controlled Singularity promotion organizations end up only dealing with one another in the interest of protecting their little dream boat ideology. Information needs to be diffused not concentrated in one non-profit organization.


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