The Singularity Vanishes

More accurately, "Singularity" has been overused and the signifier no longer fits the signified. Thanks for Michael Anissimov, whose blog I've admired for some time, for pointing out that the Singularity has lost its meaning:
The word "Singularity" has been losing meaning for a while now, but whateversemblance of a unified or coherent definition there ever used to be, it has long faded away over the horizon. Rather than any single idea, Singularity has become a signifier used to refer to a general cluster of ideas, some interrelated; some, blatantly not. These ideas include: exponential growth, transhuman intelligence, mind uploading, singletons, popularity of the Internet, feasibility of life extension, some developmentally predetermined "next step in human evolution", feasibility of strong AI, feasibility of advanced nanotechnology, some odd spiritual-esque transcension, and whether or not human development is primarily dictated by technological or social forces. Quite frankly, it's a mess.

Even more confusing is that there are technologies, and then there are plausible or possible consequences from the technologies - two things which are very distinct. Both lines of inquiry can cause heated argument, even when everything is perfectly delineated! But the delineation is still important, so after the argument is over, you actually know what you were arguing about.
Raymond Kurzweil's "The Singularity Is Near" was revelatory to me, and the term meaningful in terms of drawing attention to some startling trends brought to us by accelerating technologies. But in ironic proof of Kurzweil's own thesis, everything moves so fast that the very language frequencies he has helped to innovate (though he was not the first to coin the term, he popularized its message) have already become a bit overused and worn, crumbling under the weight of use. Am I a Singularitarian or not? I suppose the best strategy is to avoid labels and continue critical thinking, and Anissimov rightly lays out some differentiated lines of inquiry.
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Michael H. Cohen is Principal in Law Offices of Michael H. Cohen and also President of the Institute for Integrative and Energy Medicine (also known as the Institute for Health, Ethics, Law, Policy & Society), exploring legal, regulatory, ethical, and health policy issues in the judicious integration of complementary and alternative medical therapies (such as acupuncture and traditional oriental medicine, chiropractic, naturopathic medicine, homeopathy, massage therapy, energy healing, and herbal medicine) and conventional clinical care. Michael H. Cohen is author of books on health care law, regulation, ethics and policy dealing with complementary, alternative and integrative medicine, including Healing at the Borderland of Medicine and Religion, Complementary and Alternative Medicine: Legal Boundaries and Regulatory Perspectives (1998), Beyond Complementary Medicine: Legal and Ethical Perspectives on Health Care and Human Evolution (2000), and Future Medicine: Ethical Dilemmas, Regulatory Challenges, and Therapeutic Pathways to Health Care and Healing in Human Transformation (2003).
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Health care and corporate lawyer Michael H. Cohen has been admitted to the Bar of California, Massachusetts, New York, and Washington D.C. In addition to qualifying as a U.S. attorney, he has been admitted and to the Bar of England and Wales as a Solicitor (non-practicing). For more information regarding the law practice of attorney Michael H. Cohen, see the FAQs for the Law Offices of Michael H. Cohen. Thank you for visiting the Complementary and Alternative Medicine Law Blog.
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