“The Singularity” Is The Geeks’ Version Of “The Rapture”


I was thinking about the Singularity movement the other day and realized that this is the Geek’s version of “The Rapture” the Christian belief that a selected few thousand will leave this earth to live forever.

The Singularity can best be described as the time, in the not too distant future (20 years or so), when our technology collides with our biology.

Our technology will become so powerful and able to operate at molecular levels that we will be able to control every aspect of our biology, master our diseases, stop our aging, and also master our senses.

We will be able to create a reality that is indistinguishable from our “natural” reality. We will enter the “matrix” as Hollywood knows it (Singularitans hate that term).

Ray Kurzweil is the chief spokesperson for the Singularity movement. I went to see him speak a couple of years ago.

Ray had to take a break from ingesting more than 350 micro-nutrients a-day. He takes these to help him stay alive until we reach the early stages of the Singularity – that’s one micro-nutrient every 3 minutes.

He spoke for about an hour, or rather, he showed graphs for about an hour. Most of his graphs were logarithmic scale and all his graphs went up. They showed the inevitable progress of technology and science. And all of them converged in about 15 to 20 years, the point of Singularity.

He said that if we can avoid encountering our mortal nature over the coming ten years or so, we will probably make it to the Singularity.

Renee Blodgett, Ray’s publicist, tells me that the New York City premiere of his documentary film is coming up on June 24, 2010.

The Singularity is Near.”

Ashlee Vance in the The New York Times today writes an interesting report on the Singularity Movement:

In the Singularity Movement, Humans Are So Yesterday – NYTimes.com

The article points to how much support there is from Google founders and others, such as top investor Peter Thiel.

Some of Silicon Valley’s smartest and wealthiest people have embraced the Singularity. They believe that technology may be the only way to solve the world’s ills, while also allowing people to seize control of the evolutionary process. For those who haven’t noticed, the Valley’s most-celebrated company — Google — works daily on building a giant brain that harnesses the thinking power of humans in order to surpass the thinking power of humans.

Larry Page, Google’s other co-founder, helped set up Singularity University in 2008, and the company has supported it with more than $250,000 in donations. Some of Google’s earliest employees are, thanks to personal donations of $100,000 each, among the university’s “founding circle.” (Mr. Page did not respond to interview requests.)

. . .“We will transcend all of the limitations of our biology,” says Raymond Kurzweil, the inventor and businessman who is the Singularity’s most ubiquitous spokesman and boasts that he intends to live for hundreds of years and resurrect the dead, including his own father.

. . . Peter A. Thiel, a co-founder of PayPal and a major investor in Facebook, is a Singularity devotee who offers a “Singularity or bust” scenario.

As in the Christian Rapture, only a few will get there:

…Andrew Orlowski, a British journalist who has written extensively on techno-utopianism. “It is rich people building a lifeboat and getting off the ship.”

It’s a vision of a select few living forever in an utopian paradise. How different is this from the vision of the Christian Rapture?

– – –

BTW: Take a look at this web service for Christians:

Rapture Letters

The rapture: When all the believers in Jesus Christ, who have been born again, are taken up to heaven.

After the rapture, there will be a lot of speculation as to why millions of people have just disappeared. Unfortunately, after the rapture, only non believers will be left to come up with answers. You probably have family and friends that you have witnessed to and they just won’t listen. After the rapture they probably will, but who will tell them?

We have written a computer program to do just that. It will send an Electronic Message (e-mail) to whomever you want after the rapture has taken place, and you and I have been taken to heaven.

The Singularity geeks will send out their own emails. Or, there’ll be a Google alert sent out…

Tom Foremski
Tom Foremski is the Editor and Founder of the popular and top-ranked news site Silicon Valley Watcher, reporting on business and culture of innovation. He is a former journalist at the Financial Times and in 2004, became the first journalist from a leading newspaper to resign and become a full-time journalist blogger.

Tom has been reporting on Silicon Valley and the US tech industry since 1984 and has been named as one of the top 50 (#28) most influential bloggers in Silicon Valley. His current focus is on the convergence of media and technology — the making of a new era for Silicon Valley. He also writes a column at ZDNET.
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