Thursday, October 9, 2008


Just to get it out of the way, I do believe that technological progress follows an exponential curve and that the near future will produce marvels which radically reshape our lives. What I have issue with is the name. And it's implications.

There will never be a 'Singular' point past which we cannot see. What's seems more likely is that future developments in our own technology will become increasingly difficult to foresee, allowing us to see less far into the future for a given amount of resources spent trying to do so. One response to this is an increasing amount of our time and energy dedicated to doing this very thing with a possible result being that our ability to predict remains constant or even increases.

Anyone who's ever spent any time working with exponential functions can tell you: they look the same at any scale. This is actually the feature which makes them some of the most important functions in mathematics. This is not the sort of function which gives rise to 'Singularity' type behavior. In fact, in this regard, it's the very opposite of the type of function which does, namely, those with asymptotic behavior.

The only possible savior for the concept of 'Singularity' is the idea that some sort of scale is imposed naturally by virtue of our humanity or some other facet of our civilization or universe.

1 comment:

Tim Tyler said...

The "singularity" name is indeed pretty screwed. See my own: