Technological singularity is a hypothesis that predicts that there will come a time when artificial intelligence will be able to improve itself recursively. In theory, machines that are capable of creating other machines even more intelligent, resulting in intelligence far superior to human beings and, which could be even more shocking, beyond our control.
AI, Machine Learning, Neural Networks… these are terms that transmit feelings which are equally of hope and fear of the unknown.
In the next 20 years, there will be more technological changes than in the last 2 millennia. The technology is much faster than the brain – a calculator multiplies 5-digit numbers in tenths of a second – but it works differently, for example, it does not have the level of connections equivalent to that of neurons in a human brain.
However, if the exponential speed of Moore’s law does not stop and the investigations of neural networks of giant corporations such as Google continue to advance by 2040 the degree of technological integration in our lives will far exceed the capacity of the human brain.
The word singularity was taken from astrophysics: a point in space-time – for example, inside a black hole – in which the rules of ordinary physics are not lost. It was associated with the explosion of artificial intelligence during the 1980s by science-fiction novelist Vernor Vinge. At a NASA symposium in 1993, Vinge predicted that in 30 years there would be technological means to create superhuman intelligence called Singleton which refers to a “world order in which there is a single decision-making entity at the highest level, capable of exerting effective control over its domain and preventing internal or external threats to its supremacy”. In addition to this, he assured that, shortly after, we would reach the end of the human era.
Throughout history, some technological advances have caused fear. The fear of the new and the unknown is understandable, however, all technologies can be modified for good or for evil, as you can use fire to heat and cook food, or to burn people
In the case of the singularity, it seems clear that one must be cautious, regulating its development but without limiting it and, above all, trying to ensure that this future artificial intelligence learns from ethical and moral values, as well as from mistakes and successes of the species. We must be clear in our conception of the term. Human beings and machines are meant to co-exist in symbiosis and not rivalry.
Mortality as an “option” by 2045?
On the other hand, we could analyze if mortality will be “optional” by 2045. Google has already started extravagant research initiatives as they realized that curing aging is possible and that is why they are creating companies such as ‘Calico’ or ‘Human Longevity’, which are investigating it, but also non-profit organizations such as the Methuselah Foundation. It is evident that the possibilities are real since immortality already exists in nature. Some cells are immortal and the stem cells affected the quality of reproducing indefinitely, just like cancer cells.
One of the steps to achieve this is to fully comprehend the structure of incurable diseases today, and then eradicate them. Thus, as it happens with HIV, a controllable chronic disease, or diabetes. We must propose the same with aging: turn it into a controllable chronic disease, and later on, cure it for good. It is essential to begin human trials with rejuvenation technologies that have been shown useful in other animals leading to advancements in human clinical trials as well.
Prof. Raul V. Rodriguez is an Asst. Professor at Universal Business School.