The Singularity and the Fixed Point

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Boyden, E. S. (2009) “The Singularity and the Fixed Point.” Column, Technology Review. 9/4/2009. (

Some futurists such as Ray Kurzweil have hypothesized that we will someday soon pass through a singularity--that is, a time period of rapid technological change beyond which we cannot envision the future of society. Most visions of this singularity focus on the creation of machines intelligent enough to devise machines even more intelligent than themselves, and so forth recursively, thus launching a positive feedback loop of intelligence amplification. It's an intriguing thought. (One of the first things I wanted to do when I got to MIT as an undergraduate was to build a robot scientist that could make discoveries faster and better than anyone else.) Even the CTO of Intel, Justin Rattner, has publicly speculated recently that we're well on our way to this singularity, and conferences like the Singularity Summit (at which I'll be speaking in October) are exploring how such transformations might take place. ...