Silicon Valley Confronts the Singularity

For decades, Silicon Valley anticipated the moment when a new technology would come along and change everything. It would unite human and machine, probably for the better but possibly for the worse, and split history into before and after.

The name for this milestone: the Singularity.

It could happen in several ways. One possibility is that people would add a computer’s processing power to their own innate intelligence, becoming supercharged versions of themselves. Or maybe computers would grow so complex that they could truly think, creating a global brain.

In either case, the resulting changes would be drastic, exponential and irreversible. A self-aware superhuman machine could design its own improvements faster than any group of scientists, setting off an explosion in intelligence. Centuries of progress could happen in years or even months. The Singularity is a slingshot into the future.

Artificial intelligence is roiling tech, business and politics like nothing in recent memory. Listen to the extravagant claims and wild assertions issuing from Silicon Valley, and it seems the long-promised virtual paradise is finally at hand.

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