The Singularity Is Near

I do not think there is any thrill that can go through the human heart like that felt by the inventor as he sees some creation of the brain unfolding to success.

Everyone takes the limits of his own vision for the limits of the world.
-Arthur Schopenhauer

When the first transhuman intelligence is created and launches itself into recursive self-improvement, and fundamental discontinuity is likely to occur, the likes of which
I can’t even begin to predict.
-Michael Anissimov

First we build the tools, then they build us.
-Marshall McLuhan

The future ain’t what it used to be.
-Yogi Berra

You know, things are going to be really different!… No, no, I mean really different?
-Mark Miller (Computer Scientist) To Eric Drexler, around 1986

The further backward you look, the further forward you can see.
-Winston Churchill

Two billion years ago, our ancestors were microbes; a half-billion years ago,fish; a hundred million years ago, proto-humans puzzling
out the taming of fire. Our evolutionary lineage is marked by mastery of change. In our time, the pace is quickening.
-Carl Sagan

Our sole responsibility is to produce something smarter than we are; any problems beyond that are not ours to solve…[T]here are no hard problems, only problems that are hard to a certain level of intelligence. Move the smallest bit upwards [in level of intelligence], and some problems will suddenly move from “impossible” to “obvious”. Move a substantial degree upwards, and all of them will become obvious
-Eliezer S Yudkowsky, Staring into the Singularity, 1996

“The future can’t be predicted”, is a common refrain…But…when [this perspective] is wrong, it is profoundly wrong.
-John Smart

A machine is as distinctively and brilliantly and expressively human as a violin sonata or a theorem in Euclid.
-Gregory Vlastos

Is is a far cry from the monkish calligrapher, working in his cell in silence, to the brisk “click, click” of the modern writing machine, which in a quarter of a century has revolutionized and reformed business.
-Scientivic American, 1905

No communication technology has ever disapperared, but instead becomes increasingly less important as teh technological horizon widens.
-Arthur C. Clarke

Where a calculator on the ENIAC is equipped with 18,000 vacuum tubes and weighs 30 tons, computers in the future may have only 1000 vacuum tubes and perhaps weigh 1.5 tons.
-Popular Mechanics, 1949

Computer Science is no more about computers than astronomy is about telescopes.
-E.W. Dukstra

Civilization advances by extending the number of important operations which we can perform without thinking about them.
-Alfred North Whitehead, 1911

Things are more like they are now than they ever were before.
-Dwight D. Eisenhower

The reasonable man adapts himself to the world; the unreasonable one persists in trying to adapt the world to himself. Therefore all progress depends on the unreasonalbel man.

All progress is based upon a universal innate desire on the part of every organism to live beyond its income.
-Samuel Butler, NOTEBOOKS, 1912

If I were just setting out today to make that drive to the West Coarst to start a new business, I would be looking at biotechnology and nanotechnology.
-Jeff Bezoz, Founder and CEO of

In 1846 we believe there was not a single garment in our country sewed by machinery; in that year the first American patent of a sewing machine was issued. At the present moment thousands are wearing clothes which have been stitched by iron fingers, with a delicacy rivaling that of a Cashmere maiden.
-Scientific American, 1853

As I discuss in ENgines of Creation, if you can build genuine AI, there are reasons to believe that you can build things like neurons thaat are a million times faster. That leads to the conclusion that your can make systems that think a million times faster thna a person. With AI, these systems could do engineering desing. Combining this with the capaility of a system to build something that is better than it, your have the possibility for a very abrupt transition. This situation may be more difficult to deal with even than nanotechnology, but it is much more difficult to think about it constructively at this point. Thus, it hasn’t been the focus of things that I discuss, although I periodically point to it and say: “That’s important too.”
-Eric Drexler, 1989

If a most efficient supercomputer works all day to compute a weather simulation problem, what is the minimum amount of energy that must be dissipated according to the laws of physics? The answer is actually very simple to calculate, since it is unrelated to the amount of computation. The answer is always equal to zero.
-Edward Fredkin, Physicist

Now, for the first time, we are observing the brain at work in a global manner with such clarity that we should be able to discover the overall programs behind its magnificent powers.
-J.G. Taylor, B. Horwitz, K.J. Friston, Neuroscientists

We’ve been able to reduce drift and noise in our instruments to such an extent that we can see the tiniest motions of these molecules, through distances that are less than their own diameters… [T]hese kinds of experiments were just pipedreams 15 years ago.
-Steven Block, Professor of Biological Sciences and of Applied Physics, Stanford University

If we were magically shrunk and put into someone’s brain while she was thinking, we would see all pumps, pistons, gears and levers working away, and we would be able to describe their workings completely, in mechanical terms, thereby completely describing the thought processes of the brain. But that description would nowhere contain any mention of thought! It would contain nothing but descriptions of pumps, pistons, levers!
-G.W. Leibniz (1646-1716)

How do…fields express their principles? Physicists use terms like photons, electrons, quarks, quantum wave function, relativity, and energy conservation. Astronomers use terms like planets, stars, galaxies, Hubble shift, and black holes. Thermodynamicists use terms like entropy, first law, second law, and Carnot cycle. Biologists use terms like phylogeny, ontogeny, DNA, and enzymes. Each of these terms is actually the title of a story! The principles of a field are actually a set of interwoven stories about the structure and behavior of field elements.
-Peter J. Denning, Past President of The Association for Computing Machinery, in “Great Principles of Computing”

Most probably the human brain is, in the main, composed of large numbers of relatively small distributed systems, arranged by embryology into a complex society that is controlled in part (but only in part) by serial, symbolic systems that are added later. But the subsymbolic systems that do most of the work from underneath must, by their very character, block all the other parts of the brain from knowing much about how they work. And this, itself, could help explain how people do so many things yet have such incomplete ideas on how those things are actually done.
-Marvin Minsky and Seymour Papert

Common sense is not a simple thing. Instead, it is an immense society of hard-earned practical ideas-of multitudes of life-learned rules and exceptions, dispositions and tendencies, balances and checks.
-Marvin Minsky

Operations of thought are like cavalry charges in a battle-They are strictly limited in number, they require fresh horses, and must only be made at decisive moments.
-Alfred North Whitehead

But the big feature of human-level intelligence is not what it does when it works but what it does when it’s stuck.
-Marvin Minsky

If love is the answer, could you please rephrase the questions?
-Lily Tomlin

I want to do something with my life; I want to be a cyborg.
-Kevin Warwick

Homo sapiens, the first truly free species, is about to decomission natural selections, the force that made us…[S]oon we must look deep within ourselves and decide what we wish to become.
-E.O. Wilson, Consilience: The Unity of Knowledge, 1998

We know what we are, but know not what we may be.
-William Shakespeare

The most important thing is this: To be able at any moment to sacrifice what we are for what we could become.
-Charles Dubois

To become a figment of your computers’s imagination.
-David Victor De Transend, Godling’s Glossary, Definition of “Upload”

Who will be man’s successor? To which the answer is: We are ourselves creating our own successors. Man will become to the machine what the horse and the dog are to man; the conclusion being that machines are, or are becoming, animate.
-Samuel Butler, 1863 Letter, “Darwin Among the Machines”

It has not escaped our notice that the specific pairing we have postulated immediately suggests a possible copying mechanism for the genetic material.
-James Watson and Francis Crick

After three billion years of eveolution, we have before us the instructions set that carries each of us from the one-cell egg through adulthood to the grave.
-Dr. Robert Waterston, International Human Genome Sequencing Consortium

The role of the infinitely small is infinitely large.
-Louis Pasteur

But I am not afraid to consider the final question as to whether, ultimately, in the great future, we can arrange the atoms the way we want; the very atoms, all the way down!
-Richard Feynman

Nanotechnology has the potential to enhance human performance, to bring sustainable development for materials, water, energy, and food, to protect against unknown bacteria and viruses, and even to diminish the reasons for breaking the peace [by creating universal abundance].
-Nations Science Foundation Nanotechnology Report

Nanotechnology has given us the tools…to play with the ultimate toy box of nature- atoms and molecules. Everything is made from it…The possibilities to create new things appear limitless.
-Nobelist Horst Stormer

Will robots inherit the earth? Yes, but they will be our children.
-Marvin Minsky, 1995

AI is the study of techniques for solving exponentially hard problems in polynomial time by exploiting knowledge about the problem domain.
-Elaine Rich

The future enters into us in order to transform itself in us long before it happens.
-Rainer Maria Rilke

One of the biggest flaws in the common conception of the future is that the future is something that happens to us, not something we create.
-Michael Anissimov