Thursday, December 13, 2007

75% Pornularity

Those familiar with Ray Kurzweil will know the concept of the technological singularity; many who aren't familiar with him will also know it via other nerd channels. Certainly he is not its only theoretician/proponent.

I won't spend much time here talking about the singularity itself, partly out of laziness and partly out of an utter lack of desire to produce an inadequate summary of something discussed elsewhere (like in that link) in so much detail. I was, however, thinking about it earlier today, and I suddenly found myself in a relativist mood. I know, I know: distasteful and intellectually reprehensible. I'm sorry. I couldn't help it.

At any rate, what I considered was this: the notion of the technological singularity is all well and good, but why must it be attached to a specific point in technological progress? Why can't it be ratcheted forward or back? I answered these questions for myself with a little more thought, as you may answer them with a little more research into the concept, but it still led to interesting conceptual locales.

Primarily, I wondered why it shouldn't be that the singularity is already happening. Consider, if you will, the transformative effect the internet has had and is still having on modern culture. It's phenomenal! Titanic! Incomprehensible! Well, incomprehensible if you lived prior to the 20th century, anyway. The way in which digital data transmission between computers open to the public has revolutionized information exchange has, at least in some ways, rendered modern society almost entirely alien to the perspective of someone from the pre-internet age. Oh, certainly there are still plenty of offline individuals in the world, but I, at least, have also heard on many occasions someone remark upon how they don't know how they lived before the internet, or can't even remember communicating before the internet. The sort of sea change in our societal paradigm that leaves an event horizon within living memory seems pretty fairly singularity-ish to me.

I know it doesn't really meet all the criteria for the technological singularity, though I'd be prepared to argue that it might well be the beginning of one. Honestly, this entry was really just yet another one of those ubiquitous "Wow, isn't the internet awesome?" articles that crop up online from time to time. It's the cyber-citizen version of stopping and smelling the roses, I imagine.

And really, isn't the internet awesome?

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