Models and Theories in Human-Computer Interaction/Understanding Kurzweil's Singularity

The most significant theory within "singularity" has been theorized by Vinge and Kurzweils. In 1950's the term "singularity" itself was defined by Von Neumann as a normal human progress and the term "singularity" as a technological aspect was coined by Vernor Vinge, a Math professor from San Diego State University in 1993. He augmented Neumann's theory of singularity as the existence of "superhumanity" created technology and without it, technology wouldn't have properly emerged.

Kurzweils' theory of "singularity" is the pace of irreversible technological change in humanity to the point that there will be no distinction between human and machine or between physical and virtual reality, he then created "law of accelerating returns (the inherent acceleration of the rate of evolution, with technological evolution as a continuation of biological evolution)."

Both Vinge and Kurzweils believe that the existence of the future that humanity and technology will become indistinctable with an accelerated speed of growth, irreversible and inevitable. These technological growth may be bad as it can backfire and turn on humanity, exploitation and it may also be good as it can be streamlined, immortality rate of humanity and beneficial in medical advancement.

According to Anders Sandberg from the Future of Humanity Institute of Oxford University who studied the meaning of "technological singularity," to disambiguate the meaning of the word that there are growth of technological and cognitive aspect that's important to the process of "singularity." These processes are:

  1. Accelerating change
  2. Self-improving technology
  3. Intelligence explosions
  4. Complexity disaster

As I understand it "singularity" isn't only fear in democratization of knowledge and information, but what humanity can do with the power of these information. These theorizers has recognized that information can both be good and bad, that we don't know where it would take the next generation of humanity. For what we all know is that the next generation of Kurzweil's theory of unifying technology and humanity had already started since Bioinformatics were referred to in 1970 and popularized in the 80's. Will it overcome us? I don't think so. I do believe that it will become a crutch to humanity, therefore it will be harder for humanity to unlearn something that they have discovered. It's like un-learning to learn how to ride a bicycle. Sandberg's fourth process of singularity might be complexified by the waste products resulted from the past technological advances and/or the existence of patents that might repress intelligence explosion or self-improving technology and will therefore slowdown the accelerating change.


Kurzweil, R. (2005). The singularity is near: When humans transcend biology. New York: Viking.

Sandberg, A. (n.d.). An overview of models of technological singularity. Future of Humanity Institute, Oxford University.

Vinge, V. (1993). The coming technological singularity: How to survive in the post-human era.