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Issues in the Path to the Singularity: A Critical View

Henrique Pacini


This paper examines the 2005 book The Singularity is Near: When humans Transcend Biology written by Raymond Kurzweil. The focus lies on the author´s views of exponential growth information technology (IT), which would result in the so called technological singularity. This work attempts to reduce the book´s essence to the main factors necessary for the achievement of artificial intelligence (AI), the main tool for the paradigm shift represented by the singularity. In line with the book, we consider that computational power is the major requirement for the development of AI. We explore three selected preconditions for the continuity of exponential trends: the continuity of economic growth, limited energy usage and the availability of enabling knowledge. The investigation on the demand side points that the trend in energy consumption on computer CPU´s has been decreasing in the last 14 years, even with increasingly more powerful processors. On the supply side, Kurzweil´s reliance on photovoltaics as a major future source of energy seems questionable due to the slow rate of improvement this technology has had during recent years. The final part of the work observes the characteristics of different types of statistical growth, and draw parallels between Kurzweil´s ideas and similar concepts used in the past.

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ISSN: 2153-8212