A Critical Discussion of Vinge's Singularity Concept

Vernor Vinge begain speaking on his "singularity" concept in the 1980s, and collected his thoughts into his first article on the topic in 1993. Since then, Vinge has continued to give talks, and has elaborated on his concept in several media interviews.

The idea of an upcoming "singularity" has captured the imaginations of many, and has been the topic of thousands of conversations among those interested in the future. Such conversations, however, tend to be very wide ranging, and thus rarely focus on any one topic long enough to really give it a critical examination. (Some web commentary on the topic can be found here and here.)

In the hopes of inducing a better critical examination of the singularity concept, I invited 34 people to write comments on Vinge's singularity concept. Thirteen of these people commented, and Vinge then responded to their comments. Finally, for a two weeks period (September 6-20, 1998) Vinge, the commentors, and anyone else who wanted to joined in an open discussion on the Extropians email list.

The reader will have to judge for herself how sucessful this discussion was at critically examining Vinge's concept.

Here are the

Robin Hanson, Singularity Discussion Editor
(For the curious, here is the entire list of invitees: Gregory Benford, Nick Bostrom, David Brin, Damien Broderick, William H. Calvin, Alexander Chislenko, Dan Clemmensen, Brad De Long, Eric Drexler, Freeman Dyson Carl Feynman, Hal Finney, I.J.Good, Robin Hanson, Francis Heylighen, Kevin Kelly, Eugene Leitl, Peter McCluskey, Mark Miller, Marvin Minsky, Hans Moravec, Max More, Michael Nielsen, Gayle Pergamit, Mitchell Porter, Cosma Shalizi, Anders Sandberg, Gunther Stent, Gregory Stock, Damien R. Sullivan, Nick Szabo, Frank Tipler, Hal Varian, and Eliezer Yudkowsky.)