By Nicholas West
Discussion of the “Singularity” — the moment when computer intelligence surpasses that of humans to such an extent that humans become practically redundant — has been gaining steam across the media spectrum. Ray Kurzweil pointed to 2045 as the date of this tipping point, after which anyone unprepared for merging with machines would likely face a very unproductive personal future.
With the rise of automation, a background debate echoes the idea of full spectrum human-machine integration. For those who might overlook the full theoretical endgame of the Singularity, including transhumanism and immortality, the economic singularity is showing itself already.
The outsourcing of human jobs as a side effect of globalization has arguably contributed to the current unemployment crisis in the United States. However, a growing trend sees humans done away with altogether, even in those countries where U.S. jobs have landed, as a fully robotic workforce takes over – curiously by the same singularity date of 2045 – according to professor Moshe Vardi, a Rice University computer science professor.
So what does this mean for the future of human relevance?
Robot proponents have often cited the brutal working conditions of factory labor, inefficiency and corporate bottom lines as principal reasons for replacing humans. Human beings are slowly but surely becoming redundant in areas as diverse as manufacturing, product fulfillment, and even warfare. However, it is the rise of artificial intelligence which suggests that the former argument stating that humans could maintain positions requiring high skill and decision making may have been wishful thinking. Many computer science experts are beginning to conclude that complete human obsolescence in the workforce is a more likely outcome.