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The Technological Singularity and Transhumanism

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posted on Sep, 6 2007 @ 11:57 AM
Hello Everybody! I recently stumbled upon ATS. I can't believe I haven't found it until now! I like how people here actually put some effort into's refreshing.

I would like to hear from you, your thoughts, opinions, and musings on The Technological Singularity and Transhumanism.

I'll start this off with my thoughts:
I've become increasingly aware of how fast technology is moving and the fact that the pace of technological advancement IS accelerating. That is supposed to mean that there will be technological advance in the next decade equal to the amount of advancement of the past 100 years. I find that easy to believe because look what happened in the nineties with the internet and cell phone network growth. All that advancement was probably equal to the previous 100 years! Out of nowhere every single persons life was changed! Of course it didn't seem so fast because we humans are able to adapt very quickly to our environment.

I think it comes in spurts. A lot is taking place right now in laboratories across the globe as researchers mature technologies that have been in the making for a while. When this stuff bursts out of the labs into our homes it will once again change our lives in a huge way.

What do you think?

[edit on 6-9-2007 by transhuman]

[Moderator edit... check you mailbox for the U2U]

[edit on 8-9-2007 by Byrd]

posted on Sep, 6 2007 @ 02:18 PM
I think there is an existing thread on this entire topic located here.

Welcome to ATS. It's generally a good idea to do a search for your topic before posting so as to avoid duplicate posts. I'll look forward to checking out your blog as well as your podcast. Have a good one.

posted on Sep, 6 2007 @ 02:37 PM
reply to post by transhuman

Welcome to ATS

The one thing that puzzles me about technological advancements is that they seem to reach a point then only incremental progress is made.

Take for example the internal combustion engine and the jet engine. The former been around 100 years or so the later 50- 60 years and sure the have made vast improvements in design and efficiency but they are still basically the same they were from inception.

The transition from horse drawn carriage to train to car happened over a 50-60 year or so period. From car to jet around another 50 years and here we are 50-60 years later and still using the same mode of transportation.

I know you can argue we have rockets and space shuttles but for the general populace the mode of transportation has not changed over the last half century. I know you can even argue that the internet is a new form of

I guess when we get to the point of having personal teleporters and anti-gravity craft Ill get excited.

[edit on 6-9-2007 by etshrtslr]

posted on Sep, 6 2007 @ 02:42 PM
Welcome to ATS! Great topic.

I'm curious, have you ever done any reading on Terence McKenna's Time Wave Zero? The concept fits nicely with our rate of technological advances, and attempts to explain why.

Here's a transcript of an Art Bell interview where he goes into detail.

posted on Sep, 6 2007 @ 03:19 PM
Please excuse my mishap, I should have searched...there was a thread not oo long ago! Forgive me, its been a loooong time since I spent any time in a forum and forgot protocol. Not many forums out there I like!

In any case, thank you Unit541 for the lead toward Terence McKenna I had not heard of him before. I'll blog about it and send a nod your way!

etshrtslr: I think the advancement of technology resembles the punctuated equilibrium, which states that most sexually reproducing species will show little change for most of their geological history. When phenotypic evolution occurs, it is localized in rare events of branching speciation (called cladogenesis), and occurs relatively quickly compared to the species' full and stable duration on earth.

Basically, a species becomes a species quickly and then stays pretty much the same until it's time to evolve then it does so rapidly.

Technology is similar in the sense that a technology grows quickly at first and then plateaus like an s-curve. Ah, but then THAT technology is used to create the next technology, thereby creating another s-curve.

Ok, we made cars...then we built on that to create spacecraft, which we build on to create the next technologies.

Everything builds on each other. In the case of the automobile there are also large oil companies that do EVERYTHING IN THEIR GREAT POWER to keep us using cars! It's an impediment to progress.

posted on Sep, 7 2007 @ 03:54 AM
Occasionally punctuated disequilibrium

Originally posted by transhuman
I think the advancement of technology resembles the punctuated equilibrium, which states that most sexually reproducing species will show little change for most of their geological history. When phenotypic evolution occurs, it is localized in rare events of branching speciation (called cladogenesis), and occurs relatively quickly compared to the species' full and stable duration on earth.

Punctuated equilibrium is a theory championed mainly by palaeontologists, particularly the late Stephen Jay Gould. You can see why it would appeal to them; it neatly explains the relative paucity of 'transitional forms' in the fossil record. There are better explanations, though. Fossilization is a rare process and the resulting fossils must then survive various inimical geophysical processes, not to mention human activities, so as to survive long enough for a palaeontologist to find them and dig them up. Few evolutionary biologists buy punctuated equilibrium these days.

Speciation is limited by the amount of genetic variation available for natural selection to operate upon. In between significant mutations, speciation may decelerate as the quantum of available alleles in the genotype gets used up. But this is very, very different from punctuated equilibrium. Natural selection is continuous and hence, so is evolution. But evolution meanders; it is only with hindsight that we can say (wrongly) that evolution 'progresses' from 'lower to higher forms'. There is no 'lower' and 'higher' in evolution, though the historical use of these terms in zoology, etc., may suggest otherwise.

Technology is similar in the sense that a technology grows quickly at first and then plateaus like an s-curve.

This is correct and we can attribute similar reasons for it as we do for the analogous process in evolution. Simply substitute memes for genes.

Ah, but then THAT technology is used to create the next technology, thereby creating another s-curve.

And this is analogous to mutation.

posted on Sep, 7 2007 @ 05:16 PM
Its not at all a problem that there are more than one thread on this subject, this actually deserves a lot many.

I think even though we have made a lot of progress in every field, three main and necessary ingredients are still missing from the scene. These are needed for singularity to happen.
1) A new, unlimited, clean and abundant source of energy
2) Artificial general intelligence
3) Nano manufacturing.

We are still using fire and waterwheels as our sources of energy. (electricity is only a convenient form of it, we still need to burn something or erect dams to get it). To match the near infinite speed of progress thats expected during the singularity days, we need a near infinite source of energy because surely its not possible to do anything without energy. The whole earth's bio-fuels etc will be consumed in a matter of days, if it really starts to get closer to singularity and you know everything will suddenly come to a screeching halt.
We can build dams etc, but it takes years and years and surely they are also limited, because they are dependent on amount of water in the rivers and so on weather.
So I don't see singularity happening without a new energy source. (And its difficult when people in power are actively preventing its development)

Second, with all the huge progress being made in IT and communications, we are getting things done faster and faster. It all sounds very promising and is really promising but there is a catch. The ultimate source of information and knowledge is human, thats us. So the progress in knowledge is limited by what a human mind can do. We have synergies of a million minds working together and exchanging information at an ever growing rate, but not enough for a singularity to take place. An average human spends most of his time in 'lower level' jobs of maintaining, sustaining and protecting himself.
Once we have an artificial intelligence which is capable of doing what a human does, we will be liberated from most of the 'lower' level work and can concentrate solely on creation. Moreover a self improving AI (or AGI actually) can overtake human intelligence level and bring on the singularity much earlier.
I'm most hopeful in this area. This is surely going to happen within our lifetimes.

Third, even with unlimited energy and unlimited intelligence, you need stuff to create things. Our current method is to painfully dig it out from earth and purify it and then there is long process that goes in designing, manufacturing, assembling and maintaining it etc. This must change, else the singularity will remain only on papers.
Nanotech is the answer. It means, we will be able to produce anything instantly (or fast) on the spot by using the basic building blocks (atoms). This is our dream of universal fabricator and we have already taken steps towards it. This will of course mean collapse of current economical and political systems, but then nothing will survive singularity.

I wish I could provide links to all the buzz words mentioned here. But the interested reader can find everything on Google. You'll be hooked forever to this stuff, its so interesting.

posted on Sep, 7 2007 @ 11:09 PM
Great input, rocksolidbrain.

So you're saying that, in order to bring about the singularity, we need an abundant (probably self-sustaining?) source of energy, and nano technology that is capable of building matter, as well as artificial general intelligence, an artifcial "mind" that is able to improve upon its own intelligence.

I think when that artificial mind is first created, it will be responsible for finding the technology to solve the energy issue as making improvements in nano technology sufficient to really make itself ideally suited. I would imagine those and other immediate issues to the operation of the AI would take priority, so i think these issues would be solved first.

So i guess it all comes down to creating an independent AI capable of thinking like a human. Right now we're trying to improve on keeping a moving robot balanced. I think they should be focusing more on understanding the human mind so it can be replicated and enhanced via technological means.

posted on Sep, 7 2007 @ 11:58 PM
you guys talk about ancient history like it hasn't happened, yet.
the first memory storage/retrieval device was word of mouth, followed by hand writing, followed by the printing press, followed by radio, then t.v., then satellites, and now the internet.
human intelligence has been imPRESSed into all of these forms. you could even say that there is an A.I. that is the sum of human intelligence and it is running the world. you could even call it 'the android meme' and then do google searches to learn more about our present 'shepherd'.
the 'collective unconscious" is another way to 'visualise' the concept of something like a book being a link in the chain of artificial intelligence.

posted on Sep, 8 2007 @ 07:49 AM
reply to post by The Cyfre

Yes, if the AI gets there before us, it will accelerate the process even more. Such Super AI will be the last invention and discovery made by a human. The big hurdle in the way of SI is the problem of self awareness or consciousness. We still don't know hows and whys of it.

Once a SI is evolved all the problems are solved. However, it may give rise to new problems, such as the SI may decide that the messy biological things called humans are useless and have served their purpose and it may eliminate us all....
Humans did the same when they eliminated their likes in prehistoric times until only one human species was left, thats us. We can still see this trend in the form of racism, patriotism and wars.

Btw, here is a collection of videos on the subject:

posted on Sep, 10 2007 @ 10:39 AM
Wow I' loved reading all the intelligent responses in this thread and have posted a link to this thread from my blog. Hopefully a few more Txhumans and Singularitarians will visit abovetopsecret and enjoy the community here!

Astyanax: I especially thank you for your words I'm here to be open-minded and to learn - that's what discussion is about and I think you have a good grasp on that concept.


[edit on 14-9-2007 by Byrd]

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