IEEE Spectrum has a fantastic special edition on the Singularity just released in June 2008.
In this post on the many faces of the Singularity and our human and technological future are some remarkable quotes by Vernor Venge. For all readers who are into deep future, Metaverse, Multiverse and Augmented Reality. Highly recommended as this is in my view mind-expanding and blowing material !
"I expect the singularity will come as some combination of the following:
1. The AI Scenario: We create superhuman artificial intelligence (AI) in computers.
2. The IA Scenario: We enhance human intelligence through human-to-computer interfaces—that is, we achieve intelligence amplification (IA).
3. The Biomedical Scenario: We directly increase our intelligence by improving the neurological operation of our brains.
4. The Internet Scenario: Humanity, its networks, computers, and databases become sufficiently effective to be considered a superhuman being.
5. The Digital Gaia Scenario: The network of embedded microprocessors becomes sufficiently effective to be considered a superhuman being.
Several of the essays discuss the plausibility of mind uploads and consequent immortality for “our digitized psyches,” ideas that have recently appeared in serious nonfiction, most notably Ray Kurzweil's The Singularity Is Near. As with nanotechnology, such developments aren't prerequisites for the singularity. On the other hand, the goal of enhancing human intelligence through human-computer interfaces (the IA Scenario) is both relevant and in view. Today a well-trained person with a suitably provisioned computer can look very smart indeed. Consider just a slightly more advanced setup, in which an Internet search capability plus math and modeling systems are integrated with a head‑up display. The resulting overlays could give the user a kind of synthetic intuition about his or her surroundings. At a more intimate but still noninvasive level, DARPA's Cognitive Technology Threat Warning System is based on the idea of monitoring the user's mental activities and feeding the resulting analysis back to the user as a supplement to his or her own attention. And of course there are the researchers working with direct neural connections to machines. Larger numbers of implanted connections may allow selection for effective subsets of connections. The human and the machine sides can train to accommodate each other.
Brooks suggests that the singularity might happen—and yet we might not notice. Of the scenarios I mentioned at the beginning of this essay, I think a pure Internet Scenario—where humanity plus its networks and databases become a superhuman being—is the most likely to leave room to argue about whether the singularity has happened or not. In this future, there might be all-but-magical scientific breakthroughs. The will of the people might manifest itself as a seamless transformation of demand and imagination into products and policy, with environmental and geopolitical disasters routinely finessed. And yet there might be no explicit evidence of a superhuman player.
A singularity arising from networks of embedded microprocessors—the Digital Gaia Scenario—would probably be less deniable, if only because of the palpable strangeness of the everyday world: reality itself would wake up. Though physical objects need not be individually sapient, most would know what they are, where they are, and be able to communicate with their neighbors (and so potentially with the world). Depending on the mood of the network, the average person might notice a level of convenience that simply looks like marvelously good luck. The Digital Gaia would be something beyond human intelligence, but nothing like human. In general, I suspect that machine/network life-forms will be faster, more labile, and more varied than what we see in biology. Digital Gaia is a hint of how alien the possibilities are."