Mathematically, a singularity is where something is divided by
zero. A matrix with zero determinant is singular - if you attempt to
solve the simultaneous linear equations described by the matrix, you
will end up dividing by zero - a singularity.

In General Relativity, a singularity is where the space-time curvature
goes to infinity - eg in the heart of a black hole or at the Big
Bang. In science, this is what the term singularity usually means.

When Vernor Vinge in 1982 was describing the way AIs will eventually be able
to design themselves, and so accelerate technological evolution beyond
the exponential Moore's law, he compared it to the gravitational
singularity of General Relativity, and so named it the Singularity,
now called Technnological Singularity to avoid confusion with the GR
term.

This is my potted history - Wikipedia has an even more nuanced version
if you're interested. Interestingly (I did not know this), Stan Ulam
described the concept with the term "singularity" in 1958!

Cheers

On Sat, May 01, 2010 at 04:03:55PM -0400, John Mikes wrote:
> Hi, Quentin, .
> Long time no exchange... and thanx.
> That is a good suggestion, I just cannot figure out how can a Singularity be
> Technological?
> I may have too 'big' assumptions about the 'S'-concept, including it's *
> closedness* so even no information can slip out (= we don't even know about
> its contents) while *technological* is a topical restriction/identification
> - I find it contradictory. OR: requires ANOTHER description of
> 'singularity'...? (what scares me, making 'science' even more ambiguous than
> it is already).
> 
> John M
> 
> 
> On 4/30/10, Quentin Anciaux <allco...@gmail.com> wrote:
> >
> > Maybe... Technological Singularity ?
> >
> > 2010/4/30 John Mikes <jami...@gmail.com>
> >
> >>  Dear List,
> >> for some weeks many write about TS (no explanation, seemingly all you
> >> physicists on the list know exactly what they are talking about. I don't.)
> >> So after 'enough is enough' I looked up Wiki. I found some 50 different
> >> items 'TS' may stand for, in physical sciences only some 20.
> >> It did not make sense when I substituted in the posts "T.S.Elliott,
> >> besides in the texts there are no periods in between. Nor Tectonic Slip. Or
> >> Teutonic Surrogates. Tyrannical Softness? I bet it does not stand on the
> >> Trafalgar Square. (maybe in texting lingo: *t^2* as in Time Square?).
> >> Somebody have mercy on me!
> >> John M
> >>
> >>
> >>   On 4/30/10, Sami Perttu <sami.per...@gmail.com> wrote:
> >>>
> >>> Hi, I've been thinking about the political implications of TS. The
> >>> conclusions I've so far reached are quite pessimistic, but perhaps
> >>> they're realistic. I'm trying to come up with a detailed scenario, and
> >>> here are some starting points. All help is appreciated!
> >>>
> >>> I believe control is one of the paramount issues considering the
> >>> politics of TS, and the unfolding of TS. There are many factors that
> >>> point to the need for increased control, surveillance and
> >>> authoritarian forms of rule, and I still believe these will spill over
> >>> to the digital domain. But I may be missing some important component.
> >>>
> >>> -Interpersonal economic polarization is increasing. A threat from
> >>> below implies less democracy.
> >>> -TS is the biggest strategic issue of the 21st century. It can be seen
> >>> as the final race to global supremacy: if there are sufficient
> >>> computational resources available, then whoever will first achieve
> >>> brain digitization and emulation technologies will win the race, for
> >>> example by gaining a massive economic advantage, or by starting a
> >>> massive weapons research program.
> >>> -The huge potential for technological advance will fuel instability;
> >>> the major powers could attempt to resolve this by coming to an
> >>> agreement to create a global political organ to oversee all of digital
> >>> humanity. Rogue nations will be brought in line by economic or
> >>> military means. On the other hand, conflicts will likely remain
> >>> regional in scope, as
> >>> globalized capital won't tolerate a global conflagration.
> >>> -Digital communities can't simply be let loose. Previously most power
> >>> rested in the hands of an elite of analog humans, and they won't be
> >>> willing to relinquish their position so easily. The Luddite movement
> >>> will be exploited politically to this end. This will lead to strong
> >>> digital surveillance, a digital police force, and possibly STASI style
> >>> methods of enforcing control in the digital world.
> >>> -Such controls clearly impede productivity, which is another incentive
> >>> to establish global control over TS technologies. Otherwise some large
> >>> nation or power could hedge its bets, dispense with control and make
> >>> an alliance with a liberal digital community, achieving
> >>> a competitive advantage.
> >>> -Corporations will likely continue to increase their power. Strong
> >>> digital property rights will be established. Digital exploitation and
> >>> slavery will follow.
> >>> -Even more control is needed when most of analog humanity becomes
> >>> economically unviable: they will no longer be able to compete in wages
> >>> with digital humans. I have no idea how this question will be
> >>> resolved.
> >>>
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> >
> >
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