Tuesday, April 23, 2013


In astrophysics, a “singularity” refers to a stellar black whole, the enormous gravitational field of which prevents light from escaping. In futurism, the Singularity refers to the emergence of intelligence so great that mere mortals will not be able to catch a glimpse of its aims.  In this presumed turning point in cosmic evolution, we will pass the evolutionary baton to post-organic beings, progeny of whom we may be proud, astonished, and perhaps fearful. What Kurzweil calls the “accelerating returns” made possible by the confluence of nanotechnology, artificial intelligence, robotics, and genetic engineering will ostensibly transform the world far more rapidly than we can imagine. “Transhumans” (transitional humans) will soon be engineered to have greatly enhanced capacities and a dramatically extended life span. They will purportedly blaze the trail for what I will call “techno-posthumans,” in whom a trace of the human may remain, but we may not be able to recognize it.
Certain postmoderns have talked for years about impending posthumanism, but they did not have in mind the literal eclipse of Homo sapiens by artificial beings. Friedrich Nietzsche, perhaps the first postmodernist, did have his Zarathustra say: “What is great in man is that he is a bridge and not a goal….” The goal posited by Zarathustra is the Overman. Many Singulatarians claim Nietzsche’s idea of the Overman as a forerunner of their own extraordinary goal.

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