Every 30 years there is a new wave of things that computers do. Around 1950 they began to model events in the world (simulation), and around 1980 to connect people (communication). Since 2010 they have begun to engage with the physical world in a non-trivial way (embodiment – giving them bodies).
Butler Lampson, Microsoft Research
If this is ‘Moore’s Law’ for the technological advances in computing, we will not see or know anything about what comes next until ~2040 or so.. Is that when the singularity happens?
The technological singularity, or simply the singularity, is a theoretical moment in time when artificial intelligence will have progressed to the point of a greater-than-human intelligence, radically changing civilization, and perhaps human nature. Since the capabilities of such an intelligence may be difficult for a human to comprehend, the technological singularity is often seen as an occurrence (akin to a gravitational singularity) beyond which the future course of human history is unpredictable or even unfathomable.
The first use of the term “singularity” in this context was by mathematician John von Neumann. In the mid-1950s, von Neumann spoke of “ever accelerating progress of technology and changes in the mode of human life, which gives the appearance of approaching some essential singularity in the history of the race beyond which human affairs, as we know them, could not continue”. The term was popularized by science fiction writer Vernor Vinge, who argues that artificial intelligence, human biological enhancement, or brain-computer interfaces could be possible causes of the singularity. Futurist Ray Kurzweil cited von Neumann’s use of the term in a foreword to von Neumann’s classic The Computer and the Brain.