Chapter 2. Superintelligence

The fact that there are many paths that lead to superintelligence should increase our confidence that we will eventually get there. If one path turns out to be blocked, we can still progress.

Nick Bostrom (2014)

There are multiple definitions for the term technological singularity. Its use dates back at least to the article by Vinge (1993), which the author provocatively begins like this:

Within thirty years, we will have the technological means to create superhuman intelligence. Shortly after, the human era will be ended.

For the purposes of this chapter and book, technological singularity refers to a point in time at which certain machines achieve superhuman intelligence, or superintelligence—this is mostly in line with the original idea of Vinge (1993). The idea and concept was further popularized by the widely read and cited book by Kurzweil (2005). Barrat (2013) has a wealth of historical and anecdotal information around the topic. Shanahan (2015) provides an informal introduction and overview of its central aspects. The expression technological singularity itself has its origin in the concept of a singularity in physics. It refers to the center of a black hole, where mass is highly concentrated, gravitation becomes infinite, and traditional laws of physics break down. The beginning of the universe, the so-called Big Bang, is also referred to as a singularity.

Although the general ideas and concepts of the technological singularity and of superintelligence ...

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