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Is the Singularity a New Religion?
April 7, 2011
4:11 pm
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Socrates
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According to Jaron Lanier the Singularity is a new "religion for geeks."

Do you agree?! Why or why not?

(the original 2 videos of Jaron Lanier were removed by YouTube so the best replacement I could find was a single video from the same event where he argues much but not all of the same points...)

Singularity Weblog

April 7, 2011
4:29 pm
CMStewart
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Yeah, I keep reading the Singularity culture is widely viewed as a religion. It can be mistaken for a religion by those who are: 1. focused on religion, and 2. uneducated and / or misinformed about the Singularity. I use those 2 conditions in my fiction writing, they work very well. But as for the Singularity culture actually being a religion- no. I've read the arguments for it falling under the definition of "religion," and the arguments don't makes sense to me. Any dictionary will tell you why they don't make sense. [Image Can Not Be Found]

April 7, 2011
4:34 pm
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Socrates
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I agree, but the funny thing is that Jaron Lanier is neither "focused on religion" nor "uneducated" - he is smart, educated and intelligent, so he doesn't really fit…

That is why I've been trying to get him for an interview for Singularity 1 on 1 but so far no luck.

Singularity Weblog

April 10, 2011
12:31 am
tiki-1
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Ok took a bit of time to re-watch the clips. So besides the fact he strayed so far from his original analogy that actually caught my attention there is still one very distinct division between those who have faith and belief in a religion and those who follow the singularity movement. Religious believes have an irrational faith that cannot be dissuaded through fact (though in all fairness there are no facts, only interpretations). The singularity movement, at least through my perception, is based on a rational metric, there is a goal, end point, that can be empirically measured, recreated through controlled experiments, based on fact. Now we do not know how the technologies will evolve but the pursuit of this knowledge is done through a scientific measurement, at this point we have only a collective hypothesis that we are working towards testing.

April 12, 2011
12:10 am
CMStewart
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"irrational faith that cannot be dissuaded though fact"

 

"though in all fairness there are no facts, only interpretations"

 

2 excellent points to remember! Some people will never believe / accept the technological progress, the results of which will call into question basic, fundamental human suppositions and foundations. And those who do accept will, in a likely scenario, be forced to confront primal fears about the nature of experiential reality.

April 13, 2011
8:43 pm
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Socrates
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Here is what Ray says about Singularity as a religion:

Singularity Weblog

April 13, 2011
9:12 pm
Nathan Wosnack
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I recall watching this sometime ago. Thanks for finding and posting, Socrates. From the words of Ray himself... intelligent and articulate.

April 13, 2011
9:58 pm
KimSolez
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Having Lanier appear on Singularity 1 on 1 would be a wonderful advance. He is a counterbalancing voice that needs to be heard from more. I have encouraged the Singularity University leadership to have him speak there and I can for see that happening in 2012.

August 13, 2011
10:36 am
Matthew Bailey
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Yes and No.

As Ray defines the Singularity (An Ongoing Process of exponential change that is a continuum resulting in a state-change in the mode of Human existence and the change in definition of what we call Human, just as a start), it is not a religion.

As many others who are recognized as authorities on the Singularity it is not a religion (but many of them will include things that are unconsciously religious).

But to most of those who call themselves "Singulatarians," whether they like it or not, it is a Religion (whether they know it or not).

They use it as a Proxy for Theistic Religion with its promises of Eternal Life and of a Future Rapture, which will arrive at a set point in the future for which there will be growing signs (prophecies) of this coming "Singularity." And after this Rapture they will live in a Magical Utopian Paradise where every whim may be fulfilled.

I find this hard to believe.

I would claim that the Singularity is upon us in the same way that the Industrial Revolution was upon the world when it the 1780's Honoré Blanc succeeded in creating a system of interchangeable parts for mass production of Muskets (often mis-attributed to Eli Whitney). Only, unlike the Industrial Revolution, which took nearly the next 200 years to complete (and it could be argued that the Industrial Revolution is still in progress in the world, just as the Enlightenment Tradition has not yet reached all of the world), the Singularity will see itself play out over the next few decades, with the latter parts of it playing out over a few months or years (and, in the process, those parts of the world which have yet to benefit from the Industrial Revolution or Enlightenment will see themselves moved through those eras and into that of the Singularity in what seems to be the blink of an eye. This will be the most dangerous part of the Singularity).

Already we see systems of Constructed Intelligence that are smarter than humans (Deep Blue, Watson, etc.), and we see Humanity becoming more and more augmented by our technology.

Eventually, as the Singularity becomes more and more widely known, more and more people will adopt it is a proxy for Theistic Religion.

But this might actually turn out to be a Good thing.

It is better to believe in a Religion that actually has some hope of delivering on its promises while you still yet live. 

March 17, 2014
11:27 pm
Kyle
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I see certain aspects of what the technological singularity has to offer as paralleling the promises of religion. The key difference is that where religions have made promises and failed to keep them, the singularity has the potential to fulfill. In that sense, the singularity could make good on the broken promises of our ancestors' hopes and dreams.

 

By itself, however, the singularity is not a religion. It has no need for the hypothesis of gods, nor of dogmas, or even reverence for its luminaries. It has no holy texts, nor inviolable principles, and indeed, since it is rooted in the scientific method, finds such contrivances antithetical. It is the extrapolation of points on a graph that indicate a vast potential for both utter calamity or unfathomable progress.

 

In certain cases, people have drawn parallels to Ray Kurzweil or Eliezer Yudkowsky as prophets of bounty or doom, respectively. But here again, the analogy fails, as these people are doing their best to work with data, the hints, the points on the graph. In no sense are they dogmatic, and indeed they have shown the ability to adapt their hypotheses to new and relevant ideas.

 

That isn't to say that some people have not clung to the potentials of the singularity in much the same manner as religious people have held onto the promises of their religions. But here, once more, the parallels are shifted. Whereas the religious person cleaves to a set promises by hoping against all observation to the contrary, a singulatarian has reason to hope. It isn't an unfounded conclusion, it isn't an unwarranted hope in the absence of credible data.

 

. . . in my opinion, that's why the technological singularity is not a religion, but rather the potential of making good on religion's failed prophecies.

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