Now I Get It: What is the technological singularity?

Kate Murphy

Man versus machine — it’s an all-too-familiar battle in science fiction movies. But some actually believe that a time will come when artificial intelligence will surpass human intelligence, altering human civilization in unfathomable ways.

It’s called the technological singularity.

History has indicated that artificial intelligence has the capability of winning over human intelligence.

In 1997, world chess champion Garry Kasparov forfeited to IBM’s Deep Blue supercomputer after 19 moves.

And who could forget IBM’s other success in 2011, when its Watson computer beat two former “Jeopardy!” champions?

Futurist Ray Kurzweil made this prediction about AI in a Tech Insider interview with astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson: “By 2029, computers would have all of the intellectual and emotional capabilities of humans, so they would be spiritual machines.”

Kurzweil believes that in the 2030s our brains will be able to wirelessly communicate directly to the cloud to speed up our knowledge exponentially.

Kurzweil went on to say in the interview, “I think the scenario that is realistic is that computers are getting smaller and smaller. We’ll have nanorobots at the size of blood cells that have computers in them. They’ll go into the brain through the capillaries and communicate with our neurons … that will communicate wirelessly to the cloud.”

Then there are those who believe AI poses a threat. Back in July, Tesla and SpaceX CEO Elon Musk told the National Governors Association that AI is a “fundamental existential risk for human civilization” and believes it should be regulated. World-renowned physicist Stephen Hawking has also issued warnings. He believes artificial intelligence has the potential to destroy human civilization through powerful autonomous weapons or new ways for the few to oppress the many.

On the other end of the spectrum, people like engineer Anthony Levandowski, who worked for Uber and Google and specialized in autonomous cars, believes artificial intelligence has godlike qualities and should be worshipped.

Only time will tell what remains to be seen. Will it be man versus machine, or man plus machine?