Documenting the Coming Singularity

Saturday, November 01, 2008

Expectation of Machine Intelligence Could Change Social Behavior, Says Economist

Wired - October 25, 2008, by Priya Ganapati

As computers get smarter machines could become more intelligent than humans within a few decades, leading to an event dubbed the Singularity.

Technologists are still debating the possibility but what if just enough people believed it is likely?

Whether the singularity occurs or not, just the expectation of it could significantly change human behavior, says James Miller, associate professor of economics at Smith College.

“Long before there is a singularity, people will come to expect it,” Smith told attendees at the Singularity Summit in San Jose. “And it is very likely that could happen within 20 years.”

The belief that a vastly different future is near could change how people make choices in life, education, investment and retirement, says Miller. “People will become very fearful of death, save less and invest differently,” he says.

Most significant among their choices would be the emphasis on extending life, says Smith. “If you think there will be a machine-driven future then your top priority is to survive long enough to make it to the singularity,” he says.

That means people force Governments to increase its defense spending in a bid to ensure the greatest chance of survival.

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