Interview with renowned author Vernor Vinge – about the Technological Singularity, ways to think about it, strategic forecasting, future studies and risk. Specific Topics: The Beginnings of the Term: ‘Technological Singularity’ / The Metaphor Implied by the Singularity / Narratives
How Possibility Shapes the Future / Utopias & Dystopias / Thinking about the Future: What Do We Want?
Famous for his groundbreaking 1993 essay on the idea of the “Singularity,” called “The Coming Technological Singularity: How to Survive in the Post-Human Era.”
Vinge is an emeritus professor of mathematics at San Diego State University and considered one of the worlds greatest science fiction writers: a five-time winner of the Hugo Award, science fiction’s most prestigious honor! Vinge’s stories explore themes including deep space, the future, and the singularity, a term he famously coined for the future emergence of a greater-than-human intelligence brought about by the advance of technology.
Interview conducted at Los Con 39 – http://loscon.org/391/ #loscon
November 23 — 25, 2012 — LAX Marriott Hotel — Los Angeles, California
“…the spectacular feature of A.I. was not making something as smart as a human, but creating minds that were more intelligent than humans. That would be a different type of technological advance. That would change the thing that is the top creative element in technological progress, and since it would be beyond human intelligence, there is a certain unknowability about what would happen beyond that point. Therefore, I came up with the metaphor with the singularity as it is used with blackholes in general relativity reflecting this fact that there is not much information you can imagine beyond the point in time when super-human intelligence comes into place.”
Guest of Honor: Vernor Vinge
Artist Guest of Honor: Alan White
Fan Guests of Honor: Lloyd Penney & Yvonne Penney
Costume Guest of Art: Mela Hoyt-Heydon
Recently while at Los Con, I was privileged to do an interview with science fiction icon Vernor Vinge, who’s ideas has done much to further serious discourse around Machine Intelligence.
Vernor Vinge is well known Hugo Award-winning novels and novellas A Fire Upon the Deep (1992), A Deepness in the Sky (1999), Rainbows End (2006), Fast Times at Fairmont High (2002) and The Cookie Monster (2004), as well as for his 1984 novel The Peace War.
His his 1993 essay “The Coming Technological Singularity”, in which he argues that the creation of superhuman artificial intelligence will mark the point at which “the human era will be ended,” such that no current models of reality are sufficient to predict beyond it.
Within thirty years, we will have the technological means to create superhuman intelligence. Shortly after, the human era will be ended.
—”The Coming Technological Singularity” by Vernor Vinge, 1993
An article in the January 1983 edition of OMNI Magazine titled ‘First Word’ by Vernor Vinge introduced the idea that the ever-accelerating evolution of computer intelligence itself might soon produce ‘a kind of singularity’.
This was Vernor’s first in-print fling at the Singularity. For context, Vinge’s novella ‘True Names’ (which addresses the concept of a technological singularity) was published in 1981 preceding Gibson’s ‘Neuromancer’.
Vinge suggests that inevitable technological singularities in intelligent civilizations represented the most logical explanation for the “vast silence” in space, commonly known as the Fermi’s Paradox (Enrico Fermi 1950).
“We are caterpillars, soon to be butterflies, and when we look to the stars, we take the vast silence of other races transformed.”
“We will soon create intelligences greater than our own.
When this happens, human history will have reached a kind of singularity, an intellectual transition as impenetrable as the knotted space-time at the center of a black hole, and the world will pass far beyond our understanding.”