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The Singularity: How Close Is It?

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What Is the Singularity?

The technological singularity is a hypothetical scenario where technology reaches a point where it overtakes collective human intelligence. This would lead to exponential technological growth, as such a machine will be able to create better and improved versions of itself and will no longer need human intervention.

There will be an intelligence explosion and the consequences will be far beyond the human imagination today. Many prominent figures in the past century have predicted the occurance of such a technological singularity as machines continue to grow their intelligence at an exponential rate.


Warnings About AI

A key step in the road to the technological singularity is the development of AGI (artificial general intelligence). This refers to a hypothetical technological agent that can learn or understand any intellectual task that a human could.

A survey in 2020 found that there are at least 72 active research and development projects for AGI spanning across 37 countries. Several polls of AI researchers, done in 2012 and 2013, have concluded that there is a 50% chance that AGI could be developed by 2040-2050.

The development of tools like GPT-3 is said to be paving the way for AGI. The GPT-3 is a natural language processing (NLP) model built by OpenAI. GPT 3 has about 185 million parameters. The human brain is still much more complex, with 86 billion neurons that each have 7000 synapses. However, such technology is constantly being improved at an exponential rate.

Famous figures like Elon Musk and Stephen Hawking have warned of the risks of such artificial intelligence, even going as far as to say they could lead to human extinction.

The use of artificial intelligence by the military and development of "killer robots" further creates worry about the consequences of a technological singularity. This has prompted many politicians and activists to advocate for laws that regulate the use of such intelligent weapons, or even outright ban them.


Fears Overblown?

Many of the fears with regard to such technology are arguably overblown. Any machine, no matter how advanced, lacks a conscience like humans. There is little chance that intelligent machines will one day decide to turn against humans and wipe us out.

However, it is the duty of those creating such technology to design it in a way that benefits humanity rather than harming it. People like Sam Altman, the CEO of OpenAI, have a far more optimistic view of the future of artificial intelligence. He predicts that in as little as 10 years, the technology could generate so much wealth that every adult in the United States could be paid $13,500 a year.

Technology in general has brought lots of benefits to humanity; we can only hope that a hypothetical singularity will do the same.

This content reflects the personal opinions of the author. It is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and should not be substituted for impartial fact or advice in legal, political, or personal matters.