Signs of the Singularity

If there was any doubt that, as a species, we have transitioned to a technological culture from an agrarian one, here's a factoid for you:
In 2004, human beings produced more transistors than grains of rice.
This observation comes from a talk by Ed Lazowska at the most recent ACM Symposium on Theory of Computing, as reported by Scott Aronson.

How many transistors? About 10
  • 10,000 quadrillion
  • 10,000,000 trillion
  • 10,000,000,000 billion
  • 10,000,000,000,000 million
  • 10,000,000,000,000,000 thousand
  • 10,000,000,000,000,000,000
or just 1019 - a 1 followed by 19 0s - for short. I have not written Mr. Lazowska to ask for his references, on transistors or grains of rice.

The title of this post refers to the coming technological singularity. Technological - and cultural - growth is exponential, not linear. Because of this, our history is not a good predictor of the future. This has been described as "the Rapture for nerds."

I qualify as a singularitarian, since I believe the singularity will occur, for better or worse, whether I think it will be a Good Thing or not. I believe it's a matter of when, not if, it will occur. It may occur in my lifetime. I'm not sure if I want to be around for it.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Your viewpoint is very similar to mine.
This is my most recent comment.