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We live in a time of information abundance, which far too many of us see as information overload. With the sum total of human knowledge, past and present, at our fingertips, we’re faced with a crisis of attention: which ideas should we engage with, and why? Big Think is an evolving roadmap to the best thinking on the planet — the ideas that can help you think flexibly and act decisively in a multivariate world.

A word about Big Ideas and Themes — The architecture of Big Think

Big ideas are lenses for envisioning the future. Every article and video on bigthink.com and on our learning platforms is based on an emerging “big idea” that is significant, widely relevant, and actionable. We’re sifting the noise for the questions and insights that have the power to change all of our lives, for decades to come. For example, reverse-engineering is a big idea in that the concept is increasingly useful across multiple disciplines, from education to nanotechnology.

Themes are the seven broad umbrellas under which we organize the hundreds of big ideas that populate Big Think. They include New World Order, Earth and Beyond, 21st Century Living, Going Mental, Extreme Biology, Power and Influence, and Inventing the Future.

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The Singularity

The Big Idea for Sunday, April 07, 2013

The Singularity is a concept that has gained enormous currency in Silicon Valley. Several decades from now, the story goes, man will effectively merge with machine. This is seen not so much as a bold prediction but an inevitability. And the benefits will be historic. We will be able to solve problems that once seemed insurmountable. The exponential growth of computing power will create a future of abundance. We will live forever, in one form or another.

This messianic view of technology, however, needs to be checked in a number of ways. Critics like Jaron Lanier, for instance, have found in this movement the characteristics of a cult. Moreover, faith in the religion of technology, Lanier says, is fundamentally dehumanizing: "we think of people more and more as computers, just as we think of computers as people."

A further objection, raised by Daniel Altman on Big Think today, is one of economics. If we take it as an article of faith that technology will solve all of our problems, then aren't we encouraging ourselves to sit idly by and wait for the rapture? That is not a healthy mindset, Altman argues, particularly for young people. Whether or not the singularity is near, blind faith that things will simply be better in the future will not get us there, Altman argues. Hard work will. 



  1. 1 The Singularity: Beyond the Smoke and Mirrors
    Daniel Altman Econ201
  2. 2 Will Technological Change Lead to Abundance or Extinction?
    Dominic Basulto Endless Innovation
  3. 3 Reaching the Singularity: It’s More Complicated Than We Think
    Parag and Ayesha Khanna Hybrid Reality
  4. 4 Ray Kurzweil on Preparing For the Singularity
    Ray Kurzweil

The Singularity

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