What is a Singularitarian?


Most of my online bios start with this one word that you probably don’t understand. Here’s why.

“I regard someone who understands the Singularity and who has reflected on its implications for his or her own life as a singularitarian.”

“What, then, is the Singularity? It’s a future period during which the pace of technological change will be so rapid, its impact so deep, that human life will be irreversibly transformed.” – Ray Kurzweil

People who are singularitarians think on a different level—not higher or smarter—just different. While most people understand that there is a future, they think of it in terms of now, but more. Singularitarians think of it as we are in the middle.

Kind of like this:

Doesn’t seem like that much of a difference, right?

Mentally the normal guy thinks that we are pretty far along the time scale. “Stuff has been going down for a long time,” they say, “look at how far we have come! A hundred years ago people were riding around on horses, now we have cars that can drive themselves.”

The singularitarian though, thinks that we aren’t so far along that time scale. Stuff has happened, but there is more that is going to happen.

We have made plenty of advancements, yes, but they are not going to stop. In fact, they are going to be made quicker.

Josh Harris used the example of those people a hundred years ago… now try to explain television to them. “In a hundred years from now,” you say, “people will sit and stare at a box of moving pictures for eight hours a day.”

I’m sure that would go over real well. In fact, if you took somebody fifty years ago—who actually knew what a television was—and told them that people would watch that much television they would still think you were crazy.

But that’s not the important part. As Harris tells us, that is realizing that in fifty or a hundred years from now, the same thing applies. Things will happen that we cannot even conceive of.

There’s a popular statistic around the internet that to reach 50 million people radio took 38 years, TV took 13 years, the internet took four years, Facebook took a little over three years for its first 50 million. Which got quicker at one point and added over 100 million people in less than nine months.

Nobody argues that, but then they stop there. “Look at all of this stuff that has happened,” they say, “we are so much faster in comparison. It’s crazy!”

If we go with the singularitarian mindset though, it’s not going to stop. That number will go from years to months—I don’t care how long it will take to get there, but eventually it will. And then from months to weeks, and from weeks to… I think you get the picture. Big changes are coming.


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