The technological singularity is a theoretical future moment when humans and electronics will merge to create an entirely new entity or species. Although this sounds a little crazy at first, it could happen incredibly quickly, perhaps within a few decades.
Technology is already an integral part of humanity in Western society. Inventions like pacemakers, Facebook profiles, and huge customer databases where corporations collect purchasing decisions to help them market their products, are already a normal part of our lives.
We will recognize the tipping point as a moment when the creativity and responsiveness of humans is combined with the computational power and data libraries of computers. Although similar to artificial intelligence, the idea is more of a merger between humans and computers than a Frankenstein-type copy of human capabilities.
This idea is very popular amongst the big players in the internet world like the founders of Google, Larry Page and Sergey Brin, who have joined a group founding a university dedicated to making it happen.
http://singularityu.org/ has developed a Masters program that attempts to bring together technological and entrepreneurial geniuses in the hope that this cross-pollination will result in more bio-tech inventions reaching the marketplace – and greater acceptance of the idea of a human-machine animal.
Other board members and founding donors include Raymond Kurzweil, a famously big thinker who is ready to leave the biological constraints of being human and live forever as a digital entity (http://www.nytimes.com/2010/06/13/business/13sing.html?pagewanted=2&_r=1) His movies present the singularity as a great leap forward.
However, there are many people who worry about this future, seeing a dystopia rather than a happy way for everyone to live forever. The trend toward miniaturization of technology, combined with its increasing power, mean that soon tiny robots may invade human bodies as viruses do today. A whole new medicine will be required to fight these nanobots.
Another worry is that while all people will be exposed to some of these effects, not everyone will have access to the benefits. When one segment of human society can access a superior intelligence, made of super computers and mind-boggling amounts of data, at will, it is hard to imagine that they will not abuse this power and dominate the multitudes without this advantage.
Mr. Kurzweil agrees that people who do not have access to the required technology will not be included, and this divide may eventually split the human species. Perhaps soon we will be either Homo sapiens sapiens or Homo sapiens apparatus.