The technological singularity is the point at which technical development is so rapid that the consequences can no longer be predicted. Probably humanity as we know it will then cease to exist, for the same reason that the stagecoach and the steam engine have fallen into disuse.
Visionary and inventor Ray Kurzweil introduced this concept and developed it further in his book The Singularity Is Near. According to him, there are six stages in reaching this singularity, which are discussed in this seven-minute video.
Kurzweil's six epochs
The six eras in Kurzweil's classification are:
Era 1. Physics and chemistry | Shortly after the creation of the universe, between thirteen and fourteen billion years ago, all information existed only at the subatomic level. As the Universe cooled, atoms and molecules could form.
Era 2. Biology and DNA | We know with certainty that life originated at least 3.5 billion years ago, so that Age 2 already started then. Whether life on Earth originated or originated elsewhere, the fact is that genetic information was stored in DNA molecules. Yet organisms take at least thousands of years to develop.
Era 3. Brain | Biological evolution created increasingly complex ecosystems. Organisms could no longer survive by only reacting directly to signals and developed a primitive brain. The emergence of the brain enabled organisms to change their behavior and learn from past experiences. The first primitive brains appeared in the Cambrian about 600 million years ago.
Era 4. Technology | There are some other animal species that use primitive tools, but as far as we know, humans are the first terrestrial species capable of creating and developing technology. The oldest human tools are more than two million years old. We are now in the last years of this era, according to Kurzweil.
Era 5. The merging of human technology with human intelligence | Biology and technology will begin to merge in the near future, creating superior life forms and intelligence. We are already at the threshold of this age: researchers can already read thoughts in a very primitive way and realize communication between biological nervous systems and electronics. This era will fully erupt in the 2020s. Kurzweil thinks that by 2030 we will be able to 'reverse engineer' the human brain, that is, read all information in the brain and store it in a computer. Man was to become immortal. You could copy the entire mind of a person on an information carrier and possibly even transfer it to another body.
Age 6. The universe is awakening | This age will see the birth of more-than-human intelligence. Humans and machines (this distinction will then be gone) will flood the universe. Kurzweil expects this final era to begin in the second half of this century, possibly much earlier.