A serious assessment of the Technological Singularity

March 22, 2017

Will the ongoing acceleration of technology result in a “technological singularity”?

Eminent thinkers such as John von Neumann, Alan Turing, Vernor Vinge, and Ray Kurzweil have, in various ways, foreseen a forthcoming “intelligence explosion” in which self-improving artificial intelligence will rocket past the unaided capabilities of human intelligence. Trying to predict what would happen next is hard, since the resulting ultraintelligence may become motivated by considerations that we cannot presently imagine. Hence the term “singularity” – a point beyond which all predictions break down.

Here’s how former Bletchley Park code-breaker I.J. Good described the concept in 1964:

Let an ultraintelligent machine be defined as a machine that can far surpass all the intellectual activities of any man however clever. Since the design of machines is one of these intellectual activities, an ultra-intelligent machine could design even better machines; there would then unquestionably be an “intelligence explosion,” and the intelligence of man would be left far behind. Thus the first ultraintelligent machine is the last invention that man need ever make…

Some critics, however, have described the concept of the technological singularity as confused, misguided, and wishful thinking. Forecasts of the rise of superintelligence are foolish, we hear – they’re a distraction from more pressing problems.

In this talk, the Chair of London FuturistsDavid Wood, argues that we need to give the concept of the technological singularity very serious attention. He will outline future scenarios in which a superintelligence might occur in as little as ten years. Topics he will cover include:

  • Factors governing the speed of improvement of artificial intelligence
  • Alternative scenarios for the future of artificial intelligence (including rough probability estimates)
  • The possibilities for humans to become radically “augmented” (or to merge with superintelligence) in order not to become surpassed by artificial intelligence
  • Key unsolved problems in the evolution of superintelligence, including the control problem and the value-alignment problem
  • The significance of superintelligence in the overall landscape of risks to human civilisation
  • How society can take measures to increase the likelihood that the singularity turns out profoundly positive rather than profoundly negative.


This London Futurists event – A serious assessment of the Technological Singularity – is being held as part of TechXLR8 which is a three-day event taking place in London’s ExCeL centre:

TechXLR8, London Tech Week’s Expo will bring together the converging tech industries by showcasing eight leading technology events. TechXLR8 features 1 shared exhibition, 1 headline keynote stage, 20 tracks of content, 8 tech demozones, 40+ hours of networking, an awards ceremony and more. Based on projections from previous events, TechXLR8 is set to welcome 15,000+ attendees with 48% director level or above from over 8,000 companies from 125 countries.

One of the major components of TechXLR8 is “AI and Machine Learning World”:

AI & Machine Learning World will be your opportunity to discuss, network and understand how Artificial Intelligence is fundamentally changing the Enterprise ecosystem. It will be assessing what intelligent machines means for the future of industry; how this is leading to a data driven 4th industrial revolution which will change the way big business works. The show will be bringing global thought leaders who have driven the adoption of machine learning within global enterprises.


IMPORTANT: RSVP’ing here on the meetup page lets friends and colleagues know you plan to attend, but you also need to register for TechXLR8.

To register to attend this event – and to be able to gain entrance to the TechXLR8 building – you MUST follow the links on the TechXLR8 website.

Registration options on that website include:

  • Free entry to many parts of TechXLR8, including the 5G World Futurist Summit, the exhibition area, the networking bar, and the Live Demo Zone
  • Paid entry to additional sections of TechXLR8.

Note: members of London Futurists can use the VIP discount code 5GFMG to obtain a 15% reduction on the registration costs for the paid sections of TechXLR8. Enter this code in the page “Items in your basket” before pressing the “Check out” button.


See here for information on travelling to the London ExCeL centre.

Note that, between February and December 2017, Custom House DLR station will be closed for redevelopment in preparation for the new Elizabeth Line. If travelling by DLR, use the Prince Regent stop instead.

—Event Producer