Wednesday, June 06, 2012

Lightspeed Interview - Vernor Vinge

"You’re famous for coining the phrase “The Technological Singularity.” How did you first come up with that? I used that term first, I think, at an artificial intelligence conference in 1982. Actually, it was a conference with Marvin Minsky, the famous A.I. researcher, and several science fiction writers were on the panel—Robert Sheckley and Jim Hogan. I made the observation that if we got human-level artificial intelligence, that would certainly be a world-shaking event, and if we got superhuman-level intelligence, then what happened afterward would be fundamentally unintelligible. In the past, when some new invention came along, it generally made all sorts of unexpected consequences, but those consequences could be understood. The example I like to use is that if you had a magical time machine and you could bring Mark Twain forward into the 21st century, you could explain our world to him and he would understand it quite quickly. He’d come up to speed in a day or two, and he would probably have a very good time with it. On the other hand, if you tried to do that explanatory experiment with a goldfish, there’s no way you could explain our world to a goldfish in a way that would be meaningful, as it is to us humans." 4.5 out of 5