The article Hal you say? (Free Press, Nov. 26) debates whether computers will ever be more intelligent than humans. I'm afraid the debate is over. The idea of the "singularity," where computers become smarter than people, has arrived. There was a time until recently where technology helped humans to make everyday living less dangerous and more pleasing. These advances were mostly in physical devices, such as machinery, transportation and house comforts. What has made us go into the realm of singularity is the change from physical technology to mind-based technology.
Look around and "Hal" is everywhere and its influence will grow exponentially. Planes override pilots' decisions, computers beat the smartest people in the world at their game, people rely on Google for the content of their brains, computers constantly make automatic decisions for users. Nanotechnology, biological cloning, artificial intelligence, brain chip implants and virtual worlds will become "normal." We started with the web. We now have Web 2.0 where we share ideas. Web 3.0 is on the horizon; it will think for us and make our decisions. While this is happening, rapidly rising human passivity will continue to infect us. Even when we die, our cyber-existence will continue without our blessing.
In 2006, futurist Ray Kurtzweil wrote The Singularity is Near. I say the singularity is here. The problem is that the "future" has arrived and we don't even realize it.