The Singularity

What Does The Singularity Mean?

The Singularity refers to the emergence of super-intelligent machines with capabilities that cannot be predicted by humans.


This theoretical idea sounds like science fiction, but the increasing speed of computing power has led many experts to believe that it will eventually transform human life to something that would not be recognizable today.

According to science fiction writer Vernor Vinge, who popularized the term, the Singularity could occur as a result of artificial intelligence (AI), human biological enhancement or brain-computer interfaces.

The Singularity is also known as: "The Technological Singularity."

Techopedia Explains The Singularity

The Singularity was originally coined by mathematician John von Neumann, who — way back in the 1950s — spoke of how ever-accelerating technological progress could impact human life.

In 1965, British mathematician I.J. Good described what he called an "intelligence explosion," where an "ultra-intelligent machine… that can far surpass all the intellectual activities of man however clever," could emerge; in which case "the intelligence of man would be left far behind."

In more recent years, the term has been popularized by futurist Ray Kurzweil.

The word "singularity" comes from astrophysics, where it is used to refer to a point in space-time where the rules of ordinary physics do not apply.

This idea is parallel to the way the term is used in a technological context because if a technological singularity were to occur, humans would be become unable to predict events beyond that point.


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Margaret Rouse

Margaret Rouse is an award-winning technical writer and teacher known for her ability to explain complex technical subjects to a non-technical, business audience. Over the past twenty years her explanations have appeared on TechTarget websites and she's been cited as an authority in articles by the New York Times, Time Magazine, USA Today, ZDNet, PC Magazine and Discovery Magazine.Margaret's idea of a fun day is helping IT and business professionals learn to speak each other’s highly specialized languages. If you have a suggestion for a new definition or how to improve a technical explanation, please email Margaret or contact her…