I've been flip-flopping lately on my belief in the soon-coming of the technological singularity. My opinion varies from day to day. Today, I am feeling pretty confident that our technology will continue to accelerate and will indeed dovetail into some amazing configuration which will result in changes to society and ourselves that we cannot fully imagine.
The other day, however, I really began to feel that our returns from technology have been decreasing steadily and will continue to do so until the world reaches a point of comfort and retires.
Nevertheless, today I feel confident.
On the way home from work I recalled my musical studies and explorations: I am a musician by hobby. I remembered how I would make breakthroughs in my study that would open up a vast landscape of possibility. I would feel joy as I explored this landscape, only to eventually wind-up finding the limits of my newfound abilities. At this point my training, my learning, would take on a type of drudgery as I felt my abilities had plateaued.
It was always a matter of time, though, before I would hit another epiphany (built upon countless bits of knowledge and skill aquired through study and training) and would ride the surge upwards in a dizzying ascent to the next level.
Perhaps we are living in a plateau-time. Perhaps the surge, the epiphany, is that singularity.
It is interesting, then, to notice that the parabola of technological progress is not reflective of reality. Actual progress is stilted, and punctuated. It is scattered, and only by applying an average can the true curve of progression be seen clearly - and then, that average can only be seen best long after the fact.
I do wonder what it all will mean, what it all will look like in 50 years.
Are we going to experience that typical future of the past 100 years? A future of progress and innovation, but which largely smacks of the decades past (what with power-lines and locomotives still fundamental pieces of our infrastructure). Or will we truly rise? Will we truly molt our cocoons; those hardened ideas and technologies which have so well protected us? Will we spread these wings, these wings we know we have, yet cannot fully use yet.
Or will my great-grandchildren still be wondering the same things?