The “Singularity” is cancelled. For now.

Infect Teh Interwebs

The most stupid and morally depraved thing Singularitarians and Transhumanists can conclude is that a Singularity is one giant Rapture of guaranteed goodness. This is simply not true. To make the claim that The Singularity MUST be good, like some kind of ontological destiny guaranteed by the cosmos itself, is an exercise in willful ignorance. This needs to be repeated over and over, and by and large it is. Many core ‘Singularitarians’ (Yudkowsky, Goertzel, Anissimov, Sandberg, etc.) insist that Singularities can actually go horrifically bad.

The Singularity is a diffuse concept, but the most generic definitions entail a vast increase in power. The emergence of superhuman Artificial Intelligence signifies that something or someone gains in power to a point we have not seen before on this planet. There is no guarantee the resulting power shall be used benevolently. Like all technology very sudden increases in technological ability can be used for sharply increased good (who is Norman Borlaug?) or for unmitigated and visceral evil (who is Dick Cheney?). Even worse, superhuman AI may follow goals that are in alternately measure self-serving, utterly incomprehensible, cosmologically unyielding or at Lovecraftian levels sadistic. Sure, we might get lucky, and we might get a Santa-larity, but such a thing is by no means secure.

We are seeing unprecedented levels of technological advances, coupled with undesirable developments. I shall refrain from entering the list again, but things are not going universally well world wide. There are many things going viscerally wrong, and a large part of that wrongness is caused by a small elite of people becoming pretty much unaccountably more privileged, resourceful, powerful and rich. Some in the community conclude this is a good thing, but I am personally convinced it is unspeakably bad and dangerous.

Never in human history did extreme disparity end in anything else than distrust, opposition, societal stagnation, collapsing economies, massive violence and – eventually – revolution. By several metrics disparity world wide is worse than it has ever been and (even worse) the poor and middle classes are quickly losing ground.

Nonetheless many (often libertarian inclined) Transhumanists, Extropians, Techno-progressives and Singularitarians regard the contingency of the Singularity as some kind of systemic discontinuity in human history, and this can’t do anything else than bring blessings and (across the board) everyone becoming richer, more free, better and smarter. Unswerving paragon of this almost manic optimism is Ray Kurzweil himself and I must say, his promises are starting to sound hollow.

Looking online there is fast growth in the community, and to be honest about it, a lot of the newly recruited people in our movement are noticeably frustrated. Incomes for people in the transhuman community have been stagnant, and in many cases in sharp and incapacitating decline. I know of at least several transhumanists that are literally dying right now, each of a different affliction that is treatable. No one in the community cares or takes notice. There are no offers for cryonics. Nobody in the upper echelons is offering financial support. There aren’t even humane offers for assisted suicide, while name transhumanists are literally wasting away and looking forward to oblivion.

I have a message to all transhumanists in the community – let’s voice our annoyance. We are seeing a world divided. There is a growing underclass of havenots and cannots in our community. Even some of the most optimist and outspoken members of our community (think of Singularity Utopia) lead utterly impoverished and nightmarish lives while at the same time others are making world trips, attend conferences and live in utterly sybaritic luxury.

Sure call this envy. I am not calling for some kind of redistribution. Of course not, that would be unreasonable. But I am calling for revolt. Let’s voice our anger. The world is NOT headed in a desirable direction, and if this is any indication of how this fucking Singularity is going to be, frankly I am no longer interested.

I am starting to believe we are being scammed. Sure, I understand a “singularity” is an amazing concept, and it is not unlikely at this stage, but I no longer believe that it will benefit all of humanity. Even worse, the way things are going world wide I am increasingly starting to believe that developments are rather leading to existential risk, except (best case scenario) for a very small elite at the top. So in other words – I am no longer buying this crap. I don’t believe these blue eyes promises and slogans any more.

So I say to the Transhumanist community – turn away from the Singularity University idolization of tech companies and entrepreneur fetishism and dot com veneration. This crap will only benefit themselves and nobody else. As soon as these people make money, they take the money to tax havens and just lie back on a beach and stop innovating. The world has a cancer, and it is too much money at the top, and frankly from what I see the community is absolutely doing the same thing.

Let’s go on strike. My slogan is – no singularity unless it is a an egalitarian and democratized singularity. The majority of the techno-progressive community has been silent and docile and it has become time to change. It is time to give of a solid warning to the people in the ivory towers at the top of the community – turn back to your humanist roots, or it’s sabotage time.

Grass roots transhumanists have the power to block this little enterprise and we should use that power. Like Anders Sandberg said to me three years ago “The Transhuman community is a fragile, delicate little flower and just one or two connected and informed members of this community can destroy it overnight”.

That which you can destroy, you own. So I say, it’s time for the grassroots silent majority of transhumanists to stop being silent and make some serious demands on what direction we want this thing of ours to go.