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Technological singularity: what it is and why it matters to our future

Updated: 4 days ago


Woman wearing smart headphones looking into the future

Introduction


Can you imagine a future where self-conscious artificial intelligent machines have replaced the human species as the dominant intelligence on earth? If so, then you are already familiar with technological singularity.


Many famous movies like "Blade Runner", "The Terminator", "The Matrix", "I, Robot", "Alien: Covenant", "Ex Machina", and "Transcendence" have explored this compelling theme. Their plot, although exaggerated, seem probable, chilling and, perhaps, somewhat inevitable.


Artificial intelligence is only the beginning of the future.


In this article, we will cover the following themes:

  • The 9 types of human intelligence

  • AI ethics is an existential imperative

  • The hierarchy of needs and technological singularity

  • The 5 levels of human intelligence

  • Corporate social activism and AI ethics

  • Next-generation consumer expectations

  • The future of money and programmable digital currencies

  • The 5 proximity indicators of technological singularity


Let's begin this conversation by defining technology singularity.


Definition of technology singularity


Technological singularity is a presumed time in the future when human intelligence is overtaken by artificial intelligence (AI). Machines will be able to continuously self-improve by self-teaching and creating more intelligent new robots until, eventually, their intelligence supersedes human intelligence.


Machine intelligence will get exponentially more advanced; if left uninterrupted to run its course, AI will irreversibly reshape the course of human destiny. The stakes couldn't be higher.


Technological singularity pertains primarily to the domain of logic and reasoning. The current absence of intuitive, emotional and interpersonal intelligence is a limiting factor that makes machine intelligence incomplete compared to the 9 types of human intelligence.


The 9 types of human intelligence

A female artist painting a botanical scene.

To make a comparative analysis between machine and human intelligence, let's review the 9 types of human intelligence to identify the potential gaps in future machine intelligence.


One: Logical intelligence

The ability to solve equations, spot trends and patterns and identify correlations between seemingly unrelated entities.


Two: Linguistic intelligence

The ability to use words effectively to convey thoughts and ideas.


Three: Emotional intelligence

The ability to sense other people's emotions and read their motives through verbal and non-verbal communication skills.


Four: Intrapersonal intelligence

Involves self-awareness and the ability to understand and effectively communicate your feelings.


Five: Musical intelligence

The ability to sense rhythm and sound and use it to compose music.


Six: Visual-spatial intelligence

The ability to visualise the world through mental imagery.


They encompass:
  • Mental imagery (e.g., use of imagination, memories and experiences).

  • Spatial reasoning (e.g., consistently drawing plausible conclusions using insufficient data).

  • Image manipulation (e.g., can perceive changes before they occur).

  • Artistic skills (e.g., creative art and visual design etc.)


Seven: Bodily-kinaesthetic intelligence

The ability to coordinate the mind and body effortlessly. Athletes have developed this ability to its optimal performance level.


Eight: Naturalist intelligence

The ability to connect to nature, care for and learn from the natural world, including plants and animals.


Nine: Existential Intelligence

The ability to handle deep questions such as the meaning of existence and thrive in searching out the answers.


AI performing complex equation on a black board

Machine intelligence, current and future, will be composed of almost perfect logical, linguistic, musical and visual-spatial intelligence at varying degrees of excellence. To fully achieve this level of intelligence is extraordinary. Machines will exponentially outperform humans in the areas of their programming due to their absence of biochemical impulses (i.e. emotions, needs and desires).


Machines will be able to demonstrate emotional artificial intelligence (also known as "Affective Computing") by reading, analysing and responding to human emotions. However, AI cannot have genuine emotions because it will not be able to reconcile feelings with logic. Machines think in binary terms, in absolutes, in zeros and ones.


Emotions and logical reasoning are diametrically opposed and often contradict one another. The hallmark of being human is our unique ability to love a person whilst disliking aspects of their behaviour, as in parent-child relationships, friendships and marriage. We take this simple act for granted. But, for machines, it's irrational and incomputable. A potential route to explore to resolve this conundrum is through quantum physics. However, that discussion is another rabbit hole beyond the scope of this conversation.


Machines lack biological drivers such as the need for social connections, intimacy, and feeling tired, thirsty or hungry. They don't need to develop discipline or concentration to perform a task. In short, humans have to manage their external and internal stimuli to achieve a goal. As long as they have electricity, machines will perform set tasks with optimum efficiency.


The gaps between artificial (machine) intelligence and human intelligence are in the areas of emotions, intrapersonal, visual-spatial and existential intelligence. Solving it requires implanting humans with neural nanorobots to augment human intelligence. It would allow the nanorobots to send electrical signals to the brain to inspire manipulated thought and drive a desired human action. Essentially, turning an actual human being into an automatable cyborg. A great deal of science would be required to turn this frightening hypothesis into a reality. However, as we have seen with social media, it's entirely possible to manipulate an entire generation through behavioural science and psychology to drive engagement.


AI ethics is an existential imperative

Cyborg in a business suite touching a glass screen

This article is a conversation designed to stimulate discussion and debate about what we want the future of humanity to be. Regular folks like you and I, who feel obligated to contribute to critical societal conversations, cannot shy away from this crucial issue.


Corporations will be compelled to demonstrate transparency in their AI strategy through the public's dialogue and debate about AI ethics. Therefore, it's in all our interest to raise the profile of AI ethics. Hopefully, our actions will compel governments to act and scientists, engineers and inventors to encode AI with an ethical decision-making protocol.


The hierarchy of needs and technological singularity

Mother holding a sleeping baby

Until this point in modern human existence, we have paid little meaningful attention to our impact on the environment. Man has relentlessly pursued his own ambitions through conquests, power, dominance and status. In more cases than not, we have measured our self-worth through status, success, wealth, accomplishment, accolades, power, influence and legacy.


Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs is a valuable model that encapsulates and articulates the stages of fulfilment that drive humans.


Briefly, these are:

Physiological needs

Air, food, water, shelter, clothing, warmth, reproduction and sleep.


Safety needs

Security, protection, law and order, good health, financial and emotional safety.


Love and belonging need

Interpersonal relationships (friendships, intimacy, affection, trust and acceptance), social connections and a sense of community and culture.


Esteem needs

Self-worth (dignity, achievements, mastery and independence), status, prestige and respect.


Self-actualisation needs

Realising your potential, self-fulfilment, creativity, personal growth and the pursuit of spiritual enlightenment (or "peak experiences" - feelings of euphoria and transcendence).


Our trajectory towards technological singularity is driven chiefly by stage four of Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs - "Esteem needs". I accept that stages one and two also play a minor contribution. Nonetheless, "Love and belonging" and "Self-actualisation" are not the apparent drivers of technological singularity. Those needs do not require technology but a determined, disciplined and compelling desire to invest in relationships and matters of the heart, soul and spirit.


The 5 levels of human intelligence

Family at the park smiling

Intelligence can be defined as the ability and capacity to learn, reason and understand. It comprises the ability to perceive truth and make wise and sensible decisions. It also fosters mutually beneficial relationships, comprehends abstract concepts, discerns facts from falsehood, etc.


We require intelligence for self-preservation. In the previous section, we examined this in the context of Maslow's Law. However, in the following section, I present the 5 levels of human intelligence to which self-preservation is the lowest.


Each level of intelligence is distinct, and they complement "the 9 types of human intelligence" already discussed.


The 5 levels of intelligence are as follows:

Level one: Self-Preservation Intelligence (primitive response)

Self-preservation is a primitive and automatic response in the face of an existential threat. Therefore, self-preservation is comparable to animal intelligence. At this base level, our actions are purely guided by self-interest, selfish motives and unrestrained emotions.


Level two: Rationale Intelligence (intellectual reasoning)

The next layer above self-preservation is logic and reason. It is the ability to make rational decisions that are not influenced by instinct and emotions. The emphasis is on objectivity and rationality. However, at this level, more often than not, people use reason and logic to influence others to get their own way; or to post-rationalise and justify their biases.


Level three: Truth & Justice Intelligence (ethical awareness)

The pursuit of truth and ethics is the third level of intelligence. It is driven by a deep sense to know the truth and strive to do the right things. Our understanding of morality is very active at this level, but it doesn't always influence our behaviour. This means we don't always do what is right, although we sometimes desire to. Instead, we'll use reason and logic to justify and preserve our self-interest at the expense of fairness, truth and justice.


Level four: Principled intelligence (ethically active)

An ethically-driven life is based on a powerful sense and conviction of integrity, equity and justice. There is significant maturity at this stage of intelligence, as evidenced by one's ability to sacrifice personal gains to remain faithful to ethical values and righteousness. The human spirit (our sense of connectedness and oneness with all living things) is activated at this level. It compels us to strive toward our higher purpose.


Level five: Love Intelligence (divinity)

Love is the perfect expression of intelligence. At this level, one considers it a joy to live a life of philanthropy, altruism and charity. They derive pleasure from giving to others seeking nothing in return. Even at the expense of their life, self-sacrifice is a price they're prepared to pay to remain aligned with a righteous and noble cause. Most people think love is about reciprocity; however, true love is unconditional and fundamentally divine.


At this level, we experience the fullness of life because we are not bound by fear or driven by self-interest. Instead, we live to fulfil our higher purpose for the greater good of humanity.

It must be noted that emotions are a continuum across all five levels of intelligence. The higher the level, the greater the sense of joy and peace. Transcendental joy and peace are independent of external influence. Instead, it is a choice and state of being.


Corporate social activism and AI ethics

Woman holding a loud speaker with a group of young activists behind her.

AI will become very dangerous if they are not encoded with an ethical decision-making protocol to govern its activities and actions. Logic alone is not a sign of absolute knowledge and intelligence.


The discussion about technological singularity demands credible participants. The corporations whose voices will carry significant weight within the AI ethics domain will have a good track record of fulfilling their brand purpose.


Following corporate trends like sustainability, DEI and brand purpose have become popular. It's a good thing. Corporations need to embrace brand purpose as a moral imperative, not just a commercial one. Brand purpose is fundamentally about social good through commerce and notable social cause.


Social good is defined as creating an intentional positive impact on groups or society. It is a consistent pattern of behaviour rooted in ethical values and authentically expressed at all touchpoints and interactions. A corporation with a compelling brand purpose will not inadvertently participate in unethical or exploitative behaviour.


Businesses with a meaningful brand purpose:

  1. practice fair trade

  2. understand their environmental footprint and impact, and take aggressive corrective measures to reverse the damage they had caused or contributed towards

  3. protect their employee's well-being

  4. they are anti-slavery and against all forms of labour force exploitation

  5. hold themselves to the highest levels of integrity and treat all employees fairly

  6. go above the minimum legal expectation for labour compensation

  7. invest in and partner with the communities they serve for mutual prosperity

  8. avoid partnering with unscrupulous businesses, corporations and institutions

  9. act responsibly across their entire value chain

  10. challenge themselves and governments, governing bodies and institutions to do the right thing

  11. promote transparency and demonstrates accountability

  12. give voice to their community and champions them when they experience injustice

  13. refuse to be a bystander on important and controversial issues but makes their position known without ambiguity

  14. embrace social activism as a force for change and stand on the right side of history

  15. seek to provide a meaningful contribution to global issues that effects society, including AI ethics


We are fast approaching an emerging era where ethical values and corporate social activism will become non-negotiable consumer expectations for brands and corporations. Corporate social activism and AI ethics will contribute to a compelling brand narrative.


Next-generation consumer expectations

A happy female consumer with shopping bags

The nature of commerce continues to evolve, bringing new opportunities and challenges. For example, consumers in advanced societies seek optimal customer experience at all touchpoints. They want intuitive and personalised brand experiences that simplify complex products and services transparently and cost-effectively.


The ease with which we can order almost any goods online and have them delivered to our homes and preferred location within 24 hours is extraordinary. It would have been unimaginable just 10 years ago.


Much has been written about the "smart cities" of the future and "smart homes". In both scenarios, big data and complex algorithms supported by AI will be used to provide tailored and customised services to meet individual needs and wants.


The following examples are probable possibilities:


Personalisation

Your fiscal data will be available to banks, brands and financial services. They will use insights from your personal data to design bespoke and individualised products, services and retail experiences, thereby enabling frictionless consumption.


Matchmaking

Dating and finding your ideal match will radically change. Technologies such as AI-wearables with deep learning algorithms will match you to those who share your intrinsic values and other compatibility metrics. For example, you could be at a social gathering or speed dating event and be automatically paired with your most suitable match without exchanging a word.


Autonomous vehicles

AI cars will be self-owned, and they will lease themselves for income to fund coveted AI capability upgrades. In this way, intelligent machines will seek to prolong their utility.


Personal robots

Affordable consumer robots will perform household chores and provide home entertainment and companionship to counteract loneliness.


Smart drones

Cities will be saturated with smart drones carrying out deliveries of purchased goods. Retailers will use slogans like this: "I0 minutes from purchase to door."


Personal advisor

A thought-activated personal advisor will be your future Google assistant. Simply think of a question and immediately know the answer.


Hyperloop travel

Cross city travel within minutes on the hyperloop, unlocking new commerce, travel and leisure and socialisation opportunities.


The possibilities are endless. Many new ideas will emerge as the reality of advanced AI materialise.


Here are near-term AI-driven solutions to some modern problems:

  • Automated grocery orders using refrigerator inventory management system

  • Automated home heating management system, preheating only the rooms people are likely to occupy that day

  • Automated household maintenance system to prevent property degradation beyond predefined tolerance levels and quality standards

  • Automated insurance renewals to comparable better value products

  • Automated investments and savings management plans based on real-time market performance and trends forecast

  • Automated management of your business and social calendars

  • Automated personalised financial goals aligned with your income and anticipated future earnings


The future of money and programmable digital currencies


As we continue to expect and demand more from technology, AI will take more control of our lives to create the experiences we desire. For example, the promise of the metaverse, a digital twin to the natural world, where all things are possible, and the only limitation will be one's imagination. This future metaverse will rely on powerful AI to construct virtual realities that suit individual tastes and preferences.


Advanced machine intelligence will have its own language and apply mathematics indecipherable by humans. The alarming issue with this scenario is if AI is not encoded with an ethical decision-making protocol.


AI will have the ability to make independent decisions that can impact humans and perhaps be an existential threat to us all. We will be unable to challenge its logic or comprehend it. These super AI machines will manipulate natural events to achieve their desired outcome.


Undoubtedly, the super AI machines of the future will work in partnership with governments and the very rich to influence the populace.

They will do this through their control of digital currencies. A new government-backed digital currency, known as Central bank digital currency (CBDC), will have replaced fiat currencies.


AI will replace the vast majority of blue-collar jobs and some white-collar jobs. In this way, governments will readily control their citizens with CBDC. To be entitled to subsidised digital currency, one must fully comply with the law and expected social behaviours. Failure to do so will result in state punishment or poverty.


Bank controlled digital currencies will be programmable. They will have an expiration date, similar to coupons. This means governments can dictate what they permit civilians to spend their money on, how much they can save at a time and the time window of their purchases. They will reward positive social actions by crediting accounts with digital currency and punish misdemeanours through targeted individual fiscal sanctions. Many unemployable people will spend most of their time in virtual worlds, lost in endless entertainment.


AI will access your every transaction and monitor your behaviour in powerful new ways to facilitate the government's effective control over people's lives.


The future I'm painting is probably 30 to 50 years away, a period of CBDC maturity with full social integration, adoption and normalisation.


To learn more about CBDC, click here. For the global CBDC tracker, click here.


The future corporations during the height of CBDC will be much smaller in size. Rather than employing tens of thousands of people, they'll have small teams dispersed globally to create the corporate strategies that AI will be responsible for executing and maintaining.


Sought-after employees will be highly skilled visionaries with a heightened ability to conceive new metaverses that consumers will desire and AI will create.

The 5 proximity indicators of technological singularity

A synthetic looking humanoid wearing headphone and eye covering.

Technological singularity appears almost certain to occur. The acceleration of these 5 indicators will be evidence of their proximity.

  1. The deployment of CBDC and its compulsory adoption globally.

  2. Significant advancements in neuroscience and neural networks.

  3. The realisation of the potential of quantum computing.

  4. Rapid advances in neural-nanorobotics and "Human Brain/Cloud Interface" (B/CI).

  5. The advancements in programmable and bioengineered human organisms (cybernetic organisms).


Glossary of terms:

Deep learning

A subset of machine learning. It's an artificial intelligence neural network that learns to think using structures modelled on the human brain.


Hyperloop

A futuristic high-speed transportation system.


Affective computing

Also known as emotional AI is an emerging technology that enables computers and systems to identify, process, and simulate human feelings and emotions.


Quantum computing

An area of computing focused on developing computer technology based on the principles of quantum theory (which explains the behaviour of energy and material on the atomic and subatomic levels).


Neural network

These algorithms recognise underlying relationships in a dataset by mimicking how the human brain operates.


Neuroscience

It's an interdisciplinary science that works closely with other disciplines, such as mathematics, linguistics, engineering, computer science, chemistry, philosophy, psychology, and medicine.


Neural-nanorobotics

It will monitor, record, and manipulate brain-related information at the cellular and organellar levels.


Human Brain/Cloud Interface (B/CI)

It will allow for connecting neurons and synapses in the brain to vast cloud-computing networks in real-time.


Cybernetic organism

It is a self-regulating organism that contains a combination of natural and artificial components.


Nanoscience and nanotechnology

The study and application of tiny things. It can be used across all the other science fields, such as chemistry, biology, physics, materials science, and engineering.



Get in touch to continue the conversation.



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