Jan 13, 2009

When Will The Singularity Occur ?

Now and then I get asked about estimates of how long it will take us to get to the Singularity. Now Ray Kurzweil has demonstrated that this question can easily be answered by plotting various trends on a log-linear scale. Let me demonstrate how this works.

First, we notice that the average age of winners of the Turing Award, the most prestigious award in computer science (the "Nobel Prize" of this field), has been steadily increasing since the time of its inception in 1966:



Donald Knuth is apparently somewhat of an outlier. We will nevertheless include him in our further analysis.

We now switch to a log-linear scale, which is a much more scientific way of looking at trends, and try to fit an exponential trend to our dataset (including Donald Knuth):



We can now easily extrapolate this trend to the middle of the century.



We learn that by 2050, the average Turing awardee will be a centenarian, which is quite realistic given the expected progress of anti-aging technologies over the next decades.

Now, when the Singularity occurs, Ray Kurzweil will surely get the Turing Award for having foreseen it, either that year or the next, depending on circumstance. We therefore add him to our diagram (note that Ray ages linearly, or, on his own account, even sub-linearly; for fairness, and out of scientific rigor, we just plot the time from his birth in 1948.)



If you squint, you can see that crossover occours around 2035. Therefore, the Singularity will either happen in 2034 or 2035.

Coming soon: posts on "What is the computing power of the human brain?" and "What's the best programming language for writing an AI (like, while I finish high school) ?".

1 comment:

Cyan said...

This is some funny funny stuff. Well done!