VALE: Vernor Vinge – creator of a ‘Technological Singularity’ (our interview from 2019)

Science fiction legend Vernor Vinge inspired the title of this podcast – and his influence extends far beyond fiction. His novella “True Names” gave readers a first taste of the metaverse, and in a 1993 talk for NASA, Vinge described a ‘technological singularity’ – a time when computers get so good so fast that they ‘run away’ from human control. That’s a scenario haunting every big company working in AI today, possibly an element in the behind-the-scenes dynamic that got Sam Altman (briefly) fired as CEO of ChatGPT creator OpenAI in November 2023. This 2019 interview – one of his last, before his passing on 21 March 2024 – explores Vinge’s thinking about ‘The Singularity’ – and asks what happens when a goldfish tries to talk to a human…

Over a billion seconds ago, sci-fi legend Vernor Vinge conceived of a “Technological Singularity”, when our machines outthink us. Should we worry?

Be sure to read Vernor’s 1993 paper, “The Coming Technological Singularity: How to Survive in the Post-Human Era” – it’s linked here.

A rerun of episode 3.01 of The Next Billion Seconds

For more information about this podcast and The Next Billion Seconds, please visit

The Next Billion Seconds with Mark Pesce is produced by Ampel –

Chief Audio Officer: Josh Butt
Edited by: Isabel Vanhakartano
Audio Mixed by: Carter Quinn

AI Miniseries SPECIAL EPISODE “Superpowers School Podcast with host Paddy Dhanda”

I really enjoy being a guest on other folks’ podcasts – all of the fun, almost none of the work. To help publicise my new book Getting Started with ChatGTP and AI Chatbots, I hopped onto Paddy Dhanda’s Superpowers School podcast for a 45 minute chat about AI chatbots, using AI safely & wisely – and what’s coming. It’s great fun, so have a listen!

If you’d like a signed copy of my book, just follow this link!

AI Miniseries #2 – “The Gunpowder Plot – How Meta put an AI chatbot on your smartphone and changed the game”

While everyone was going gaga over ChatGPT, Meta – the former Facebook – rewrote the AI playbook with LLaMA. Small enough to run on a smartphone, LLaMA gives us a glimpse of what the world will look like at the end of next year – with AI chatbots everywhere, inside almost everything. LLaMA and its tiny kin are amazing – but are they safe?

AI Miniseries #1 – “When It Changed – How ChatGPT became the fastest growing app ever”

On 30 November 2022 startup OpenAI released ChatGPT, resetting expectations for artificial intelligence. Only one year later and billions now have access to ‘good enough’ AI, resetting our expectations for what computers can do – and leaving us wondering how we’ll adapt to this latest breakthrough.

On this first of a three-part miniseries, we explore how ChatGPT rose to become the fastest growing app in history, then found itself the weapon of choice in the longest running war in the technology industry – the feud between Microsoft and Google.