“Mr. President, by 2045 computers will be billions of times more intelligent than humans. They will have the capacity to create unlimited wealth and to create a society that needs little human labor. How will your administration help the American people prepare for this coming singularity?”
I’ve not heard much discussion so far in this presidential contest about the coming “singularity” — the time, in the near future, when computer intelligence on earth will be billions times more powerful than normal human intelligence. Billions of times. This will be a watershed moment in human history and its impact will be beyond amazing and beyond every prediction. Yet, it seems it is never discussed.
I’m imagining a press conference when some president in the near future is asked the above question, and he, or she, answers something like this:
Thanks for a question that deals with the big challenges of our future. Our democracy does not spend enough energy giving serious consideration to the challenges of the future.
Computer power per unit price doubles about ever 11 or 12 months. This means that computer power that today costs $1 billion, in 30 years will cost $1. Computer power that today is worth $1 trillion, in 30 years will be worth $1000. This seems too outlandish to be true, but, we have every reason to believe that the doubling trend will continue. In the near future, we will each of us have easy access to computer power that far exceeds today’s most powerful computers.
Children growing up today will reach their peak years in a world radically different.
We are approaching a time when we will have the capacity to replace most human labor with machine labor, a time when, if we choose, humans will have multi-fold increases in leisure time and will enjoy excellent health into an extended age. A vision of a future where machine labor, “if we so choose,” could result in human worthwhile leisure time, rather than poverty for lack of a job, is a vision of a radical reordering of our society. The question is, do we so choose? How should a democratic society proceed to make plans for its best future?
Our whole economy, right now, is based upon the notion of scarcity. The contemplation of a coming singularity poses the question: Suppose there is no scarcity? Suppose there is only plenty? What is the economy, what does the societal structure look like that is built on a reality of plenty?
Thinking about the possibility of a coming singularity causes us to recast our thinking about many central and complicated issues. The singularity will require that democratic societies consciously reorder much of society and such reordering will not be easy. It will require that citizens become prepared for such a task. And to prepare for this task we need a transformation in public discourse and a transformation in education at every level ….
My premise for “The Destiny Of Character” is that a city school system determines to remake its system of public education to respond to the coming singularity. The idea is that “The Destiny Of Character” is written by a super computer in 2045.
Super intelligent computers, in 2045, will, no doubt, communicate with each other via a language that compresses meaning and nuance with such detail and precision that it will be a language inaccessible to human intellect. But I’m thinking those same computers will probably have a translator function that will do its best to communicate an abbreviated and dumbed down version of the report to humans