The Singularity is near

But not in the way Ray Kurzweil means it, in his foretelling of machines that become more intelligent than humans and therefore take the lead in all fields of human development. It is rather in a geographical sense, as the news say that a partnership between the 2015 Expo in Milan and the Singularity University was announced this week.

News are both good and bad in my opinion, as it is for sure a great way to secure a stream of attractive events and meaningful connections to relevant innovation hubs. But, on the other hand, I cannot help feeling discomforted by Kurzweil's approach and its success, characterized by coupling respectable research with compelling sci-fi narratives and leaving the borderline blurred – if not invisible.

In this scenario, my most discomforting thought is that I do believe that, sooner or later, the singularity will arrive – but not for the reasons pointed out by Kurzweil: it will be because, following a trend which, to be honest, has no other objective demonstration than my personal convincement, the benchmark for what mankind considers 'a reasonably average intelligence' is getting lower and lower.

For reasons that elude my comprehension (at least my current comprehension), there seems to be an unstoppable attraction between:
– the higher edge of results of algorithmic procedures expressed in formats used by humans in their interactions, such as a conversation, or a chess match;
– the lower bound of intellectual achievement, mainstream belief and common attitude for human beings.

In a playful conversation in the comments to his post, Guido Vetere called this convincement of mine "the Singularity race to the bottom" and I am not able to conjure up a better name for it.

Moreover, I firmly believe that the idea (or meme, as Richard Dawkins would put it) currently known as 'singularity', has very deep roots in our history and, during the last century, has been described in a fantastic number of variations.

In the forthcoming posts, I am going to try and list some exhibits of this trend in religion, literature and the effects of new media on the acceleration of our collision course towards a lower-bound singularity.

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