The only way of discovering the limits of the possible is to venture a little way past them into the impossible (Arthur C. Clarke's 2nd law)

Singularity Hypotheses: A Scientific and Philosophical Assessment

Authoritative essays and critical commentaries on central questions relating to accelerating technological progress and the notion of technological singularity, focusing on conjectures about the intelligence explosion, transhumanism, and whole brain emulation

Wednesday, 3 July 2013

Review by Marcin Miłkowski

The singularity has become a buzzword, and as all buzzwords, its precise meaning is somewhat hard to grasp. In this helpful volume, the concept is elucidated but also shown to be ambiguous; some believe that there will be superhuman AI that will accelerate in an explosive fashion, while other believe that technology will transform human beings into posthuman cyborgs. Some find the idea abhorrent and offer arguments against the belief in singularity, while others point to constant acceleration of computer power. I believe that a sober discussion is very much needed in this domain, and this volume might as well be the first necessary step to build empirically-driven models which examine the plausibility of singularity scenarios. But one cannot start building a theory before discussing assumptions made in the debate. Hence this volume is indispensable.
Marcin Miłkowski, Institute of Philosophy and Sociology of the Polish Academy of Sciences

Thursday, 20 June 2013

Review by Ilya Levin

The book presents a clear, balanced, critical study and discussion around one of the most neglected hypotheses of our recent time - the Singularity Hypothesis. The book focuses on the technological singularity, notably the intelligence explosion and the possibility of the super-intelligence and its consequences. The singularity hypothesis is inspired by a diversity of ideas from several sources: science, philosophy, technology, ideology and even science fiction. The book succeed in gathering, under one roof, a number of bright and deep papers written by authors of different ages, having different approaches and working in various fields. The most important thing is that a scientist having interests in the possibility of a singularity will definitely be encouraged to continue research in that direction. The implications to humanity of the singularity deserve an open multi perspective rational and critical discussion. The book poses a challenge and opens the way for future research.
Ilya Levin, Head of Mathematics, Science and Technology Education Department, School of Education, Tel-Aviv University

Tuesday, 18 June 2013

Review by P.W. Singer

A 'who’s who' of thinking on the Singularity, the volume is notable for having both leading thinkers and critics of the visions behind what may (or may not) be one of the most important events to come in all of human history.
P.W. Singer, Director, Center for 21st Century Security and Intelligence at Brookings, and author: Wired for War: The Robotics Revolution and Conflict in the 21st Century

Tuesday, 28 May 2013

Review by Ted Goerztel

(Replicated from Amazon book reviews)
***** A Significant Advance in Singularity Scholarship
This volume is a significant advance in scholarship about the likelihood and nature of a forthcoming technological singularity. It hits the sweet spot between short-term trend extrapolation and Sci-Fi speculation to deconstruct and analyze the arguments for a tipping point or discontinuity in information technology that will transform the world as we know it.
Many of the arguments here can be found in other places, but the collection is much more than the sum of its parts. It imposes a dialectical logic on the discussion whereby every essay is responded to with one or more critical essays. The introductory essay, which can be read free on amazon.com, raises a very well thought out set of questions that will define debate on the singularity for years to come. The essays that follow provide thoughtful, comprehensive and insightful answers to the questions.
The skeptics are given more than ample opportunity to develop their arguments, which are then subjected to serious criticism. The criticisms are telling: many of the skeptics demolish straw men. They go to great pains to demonstrate that no one can "prove" the singularity with mathematical or logical certainty, something which none of the authors in the volume assert. Much of the skepticism is addressed to Ray Kurzweil's more popular work, rather than to the more careful state-of-the-art futurism in this volume. The skeptics are actually more "fideistic" (arguing from faith) than the scientists (I won't call them "believers") who do their best to assess the likelihood and nature of a singularity. 
The skeptics are perhaps most convincing on the issue of timing. But even here, the criticism applies more to Kurzweil's The Singularity is Near than to the essays in this book which have absorbed and incorporated the criticisms of Kurzweil. These essays admit what we don't know, but have the courage to make the most of what we do. They accept the challenge of predicting likely turning-points in the medium-term future of information technology, and of suggesting what we can do to prepare for them.
Ted Goertzel, Professor, Sociology Department, Rutgers University

Thursday, 23 May 2013

Review by Aubrey de Grey

Eden and colleagues have produced a remarkably thorough survey of contemporary expert thinking concerning the technological singularity. It is particularly impressive that there is a whole section, rather than just a token chapter, dedicated to skepticism about its occurrence. The inclusion of short responses to most chapters is also highly valuable. The only issue that I was sorry to see omitted–and this may well be because too little can yet be said about it - is whether recursive self-improvement of the kind probably required for the singularity may be provable impossible, in the same sort of sense as the "halting problem". All in all, this volume will provide a wide range of audiences with an extremely timely and high-quality account of what we think, know and do not know about what could be the most transformative event in human history.
Aubrey de Grey, gerontologist, Chief Science Officer, SENS Research Foundation

(All reviews)

Wednesday, 22 May 2013

Review by David Koepsell

Singularity Hypotheses is the first comprehensive attempt to deal with a vitally important area of technological innovation—the potential of a coming "singularity." Never before has this topic been dealt with as seriously, with such clarity, and regarding such a range of associated topics and issues. The editors succeed in introducing the debates we need before us, and defining the issues we must grapple with if, indeed, the singularity is to occur. This eventuality also is crucially treated with skepticism and a proper scientific outlook pervades the compelling discussions within. It is must reading for scholars and aficionados alike who are seriously interested in the trajectory of modern technologies. It makes for a gripping read, a rare feat for an academic text.
David Koepsell, Deptartment of Values and Technology, Delft University of Technology

(All reviews)

Saturday, 18 May 2013

Call for Contributions, The Technological Singularity: A Pragmatic Perspective

The Technological Singularity: A Pragmatic Perspective

Seeking to promote the debate in the nature of the upcoming technological singularity, the peer-reviewed essays and commentaries in the volume Singularity Hypotheses (Springer, 2012) explicated, defended and criticized a range of hypotheses related to an intelligence explosion and posthumanism, as well as acceleration theories.

We invite contributions to a second volume on the subject. Tentatively entitled The Technological Singularity: A Pragmatic Perspective, the volume will collect essays that expand on consequences of the singularity to humankind and explore plausible pathways and disruptive technologies.

In addition to the tools of science and engineering we particularly welcome essays applying economic, business, historical, social, political and psychological theories to the hypotheses presented in Singularity Hypotheses.