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

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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