The technological singularity ensures a crazy future: one day, technology will progress at a rate far faster than the current human mind can fathom. That’s a scary thought for many of us, and others don’t accept it at all. Perhaps they don’t understand the overwhelming implications of an age in which we routinely discover new technology on our own instead of hear about it through word of mouth. If humans are skilled at anything, after all, it’s the art of adaptation. Then again, we often don’t realize things are happening until it’s too late.
Remember the way it worked a decade ago? When a sexy chunk of new technology launched, everyone enjoyed immediate access. Our friends let us know what it was and when it would be released to the public, and then we quickly scooped it up like the crazy consumers we are. We learned how to engage with and use the technology in the blink of an eye. Even if the initially high price kept it temporarily out of reach in our own homes, we knew someone who had already purchased what we wanted, and they showed us the new tech capabilities that we would have for ourselves soon enough.
That silly trend is already changing fast.
We now live in the age of the algorithm. We’re already experiencing a widening gap between what we do with new technology and what we actually can do. In other words, today we’re more likely to discover it on our own than hear about it from our friends–if we find out about it at all.
Where can I discover new technology?
The question isn’t hard to answer. If you’d like to discover new technology, or new benefits of technology you already own, then you need to search for it. A few months ago, I experienced the joy of discovering Google Photos. It’s been around for a fair bit of time now, but I had no idea what it was or what it could do for me. Google Photos is a free cloud storage space capable of backing up all the photos from my iPhone and computer. Every month or two, my device became cluttered with pictures and videos that I’ll probably never bother to look at again, and I was forced to transport my visual, digital treasure chest somewhere else by connecting the device to my computer and moving them manually. Oh, how little did I know.
When I finally found and learned to use Google Photos, I certainly had no idea that facial recognition could automatically create face-based albums comprised of all the people I know–and even some I don’t. I didn’t know that the system would automatically compile similar photos to create short animations that look like choppy videos. I didn’t know that the system would automatically create an album for photos I took when I was traveling.
Google Photos does a lot more than store photos–and a lot more than the couple of things already mentioned–but everything it does is based on the algorithms and artificial intelligence driving it. It wasn’t possible ten years ago, and what it will do ten years from now is probably beyond my own imagining.
So sure, the singularity will almost certainly bring about more change than we can keep up with if and when it happens. We’re in an age where we can already discover new technology that’s been around for years–and soon enough we’ll be in an age where it takes us decades to discover technology that’s been there all along. What could happen when we can’t keep up with the machines? That’s a scary, albeit exciting, future to think about.