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Likely singularities

Likely singularities

Posted Dec 10, 2008 21:39 UTC (Wed) by ncm (subscriber, #165)
In reply to: Interview: Vernor Vinge by leoc
Parent article: Interview: Vernor Vinge

History has seen many singularities, but none yet worldwide unless you count internet, air travel, telegraph, railroad, agriculture, etc. The most common experience of localized singularity is collapse and mass starvation. In the modern world that remains the most likely experience, possibly subsequent to climate change, seafood exhaustion, oil exhaustion, epidemic, widespread staple crop failure, world war, or what-have-you.


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Likely singularities

Posted Dec 10, 2008 22:55 UTC (Wed) by flewellyn (subscriber, #5047) [Link]

History has seen many singularities, but none yet worldwide unless you count internet, air travel, telegraph, railroad, agriculture, etc.

Interesting. Can you elaborate on that, please?

Likely singularities

Posted Dec 11, 2008 2:51 UTC (Thu) by ncm (subscriber, #165) [Link]

It's a bit off-topic, but read "Collapse" by Jared Diamond. Read it for its own sake. It includes examples of singularities successfully averted.

Most of my examples above are not so great; probably the global singularities in our past are actually limited to adoption of agriculture and, earlier, language, and the near-extinction event ca. 50K B.P. (maybe a climate-affecting eruption).

As noted elsewhere, a Vinge singularity is just an event after which the world becomes incomprehensible to someone raised before it occurred.

Likely singularities

Posted Dec 11, 2008 14:08 UTC (Thu) by lysse (guest, #3190) [Link]

I'm sure that happened to me in about 1991...

Likely singularities

Posted Dec 11, 2008 0:03 UTC (Thu) by nix (subscriber, #2304) [Link]

Agriculture seems to be a pretty good example of a worldwide singularity.
The pre-agriculturalists could not have predicted anything much about the
lifestyles of the agriculturalists. It wasn't nice, either for the fading
hunter-gatherers or the agriculturalists: they got much higher population
densities, but it took ten thousand years for human health and lifespans
to regain their probable pre-agriculture norms.


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