The Economics of the Singularity

How will the Singularity impact economic productivity?

The Singularity - a potential future event that represents computers overtaking human intelligence - is one of the most talked about ideas on Big Think. However, here is a perspective that we don't often see. How will the Singularity impact economic productivity?


You will get $40 trillion just by reading this essay and understanding what it says.

That's what Ray Kurzweil famously wrote in his 2001 essay, "The Law of Accelerating Returns." Now that's a bit hard to grasp. On the other hand, here is how Robin Hanson, an economist at George Mason University in Washington, D.C., put it to NBC News:

The past two singularities — the Agricultural and Industrial revolutions — led to a doubling in economic productivity every 1,000 and 15 years, respectively, said Robin Hanson, an economist at George Mason University in Washington, D.C., who is writing a book about the future singularity. But once machines become as smart as man, the economy will double every week or month.

​There are two kinds of failure – but only one is honorable

Malcolm Gladwell teaches "Get over yourself and get to work" for Big Think Edge.

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Is this why time speeds up as we age?

We take fewer mental pictures per second.

(MPH Photos/giphy/yShutterstock/Big Think)
Mind & Brain
  • Recent memories run in our brains like sped-up old movies.
  • In childhood, we capture images in our memory much more quickly.
  • The complexities of grownup neural pathways are no match for the direct routes of young brains.
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Trauma in childhood leads to empathy in adulthood

It's not just a case of "what doesn't kill you makes you stronger."

Mind & Brain

  • A new study suggests children who endure trauma grow up to be adults with more empathy than others.
  • The effect is not universal, however. Only one kind of empathy was greatly effected.
  • The study may lead to further investigations into how people cope with trauma and lead to new ways to help victims bounce back.
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Why are so many objects in space shaped like discs?

It's one of the most consistent patterns in the unviverse. What causes it?

Videos
  • Spinning discs are everywhere – just look at our solar system, the rings of Saturn, and all the spiral galaxies in the universe.
  • Spinning discs are the result of two things: The force of gravity and a phenomenon in physics called the conservation of angular momentum.
  • Gravity brings matter together; the closer the matter gets, the more it accelerates – much like an ice skater who spins faster and faster the closer their arms get to their body. Then, this spinning cloud collapses due to up and down and diagonal collisions that cancel each other out until the only motion they have in common is the spin – and voila: A flat disc.