Wednesday, February 16, 2011

The Singularity is Here

At lunch today, I walked over to see if one of my friends, Andy, had come to school today. It turns out he was still at home sick but that he was Skyping with two of my other friends, Sean and Dillon, from home to Dillon's laptop.While that experience (I had never actually seen someone Skype before) was definitely entertaining, what happened next was the spark of enlightment. When we arrived in AP Chemistry, we informed Sister Cecilia that Andy was sick, but that he would like to join the class. She didn't understand at first until Dillon pulled out the laptop and called Andy. We put him on a desk in the front row facing the board, and proceeded with class as normal; And that's what excites me.

In the world of Facebook and Skype, being away doesn't mean that you are cut off. Andy took notes from home and now doesn't have to worry about getting someone else's notes or spending additional time learning the material, saving him tremendous time and lessening the stress of missing classwork. People often talk about the Singularity, where computing becomes so fast that it can mimic human brain patterns, allowing us to download into them, but what if we are already there? Is there really a difference between having a Cylon body, augmenting many aspects of your physical existence, and simply using today's technology to accomplish the same thing? If you want super strength, we have it: a robotic exoskeleton (tethered, though) that allows one to lift weights much larger than any human being on his own. Access to computers around the world?: Cloud Computing. Face-time with people who are thousands of miles away?: Skype. Almost every advantage conceivable by forming the Singularity is available now in other forms.

But what does this mean for humanity?

No one really knows. Maybe we will all grow so used to it that everyone will stay at home all day and use Internet Work-Flow Software including Skype to do everything that they have to do, sacrificing the personal human element of life forever. Maybe it will pave way for a demented computer hacker to unleash a virus that latches onto this connectivity and destroys every computer on Earth, bringing us back to the Stone Ages. But hopefully, it means that the exponentially increasing interconnectivity people have with others around the globe will lead to a Pax Terris and a revival of the inclusive, limitless human spirit to break boundaries, to overcome obstacles, and to explore our existence in every way that we can - to go where no one has gone before. Live Long, and Prosper.

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