The Singularity Q&A

Q: Is the Singularity inevitable?

A: The Singularity is not inevitable.  The complete annihilation of humanity -- an increasingly possible event -- would prevent us from reaching it.  But, in the absence of such a disaster there are a number of reasons to believe that the Singularity's eventual arrival is all but certain.

The variety of different scientific fields that serve as approaches to the Singularity grant it a certain redundancy; even if a couple technological avenues turn out to be impractical, the others could still bring about greater intelligence.  And obstacles encountered in one field may be overcome by successes in others.  

More generally, the Singularity is also effectively assured because of the swift -- and accelerating -- pace of technological progress.  The open and stable societies that are leading the way in science would be unlikely to resort to the harsh forms of suppression that would be needed to reverse this momentum, even if there were a generally perceived need to do so.  We have also become too dependent on our technology to give up very much of it without enormous loss of life.

It is possible that some catastrophe could fall short of causing human extinction yet set civilization back centuries, but the lost technology would eventually be recovered and exceeded.  Progress really can't help but lead to greater intelligence somewhere down the road, so ultimately, whether it be in a few decades or a few million years, humanity will have reached the Singularity or perished en route.

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