Over on Ambient Irony we get to hear the story of what happened to the Spike in the 22nd century.
Nanometres. Oh well. Let’s put it this way.
For more than thirty years, computers had been getting faster and cheaper, and anyone projecting the curve forward could see the day coming when a computer with the calculating and memory capacity of the human brain would become available. In the first years of the 21st century, though, the laws of physics began to intervene, making progress very much more difficult.
The curve began to flatten out.
Vinge was comfortable in his predictions because he saw multiple paths leading to the Singularity, three of them backed by a decades-long track record. The fourth – biological brain engineering – was a long shot.
But all three of the likely paths relied on the same curve, exactly the curve that was starting to flatten out just as Vinge was writing his paper. Although computers continued to improve, and human-computer interfaces in particular – the growth curve was no longer super-exponential; no longer leading inevitably toward the Singularity. Indeed, for much of the 21st century the growth was close to linear.
And it was linear because, just as past improvements allowed ever greater resources to be brought to bear on the next advance, so the advances became ever more difficult. Sometimes advances came more easily, allowing a brief flowering of technological growth; sometimes they were relatively intractable, leading to years of stagnation.
Today, altough we do indeed possess computers with more processing capacity than the human brain (and systems with more memory capacity are commonplace), we don’t – yet – have anything resembling a human intelligence embodied in a machine
This Blog post gets into more of the technical flaws of the thesis which I don’t cover. I don’t cover it because (at the moment) my job is to be a Social-Scientist and I look at how hard technology falls to the soft hands of people.
I don’t see how you could mass market the technological jumps needed to get from here to the spike to the consumers to drive the market over the hump.
I see the flesh end of the equation as its fatal flaw but glad to see the silicon is likely to break as well.