Written by Ralph Losey with some help from ChatGPT-4. Illustrations by Losey using Midjourney or Dall-E.
Chat GPT-4 now estimates, and I agree, that there is a 5-10% chance that The Singularity will occur in the next five years. Considering the profound implications, a possibility as high as 10% is motivating as hell. We need to intensify our preparation efforts, starting now. In this article I will explain what is likely to happen, especially to the Law, and what we should do to prepare.
The GPT prediction is based on data that ended in September 2021. Lots has happened since then, including the advancement of GPT, which is information it technically does not know about and had not been trained on. What if ChatGPT-4 knew what we do today? I would assume the 5%-10% probability would increase, perhaps significantly. For evidence, consider the Pause Giant AI Experiments: An Open Letter, that I just wrote about. This call to slow down Ai development has been signed by most of the industry insiders. What do they know that we don’t?
One thing we know is ChatGPT-4 is not the only one to openly make the Singularity prediction. Ray Kurzweil, head of Google’s Ai, and strong proponent of the idea of The Singularity, predicted years ago that it would come by 2045. Kurzweil has written several books on technology and futurism, including “The Age of Spiritual Machines,” “The Singularity Is Near,” and “How to Create a Mind.” He is also the co-founder of Singularity University, a think tank that focuses on exploring the potential of exponential technologies to solve pressing world problems. Anyway, according to another well-known Ai expert, Dr. Alan Thompson, Kurzweil recently accelerated his prediction “to happen possibly in the next few months, not 5 or 10 years” because of the new LLM GPT technologies. See the Reddit Singularity discussion page starting with video interview of Thompson, at 24:35. So, by comparison ChatGPT-4’s prediction of a 5-10% chance in five years is not that outrageous. Maybe it will happen later this year? There is a chance.
What is the Singularity?
I checked ChatGPT-4’s answer to this question and prompted it in several ways. Same answer every time as to odds for emergence in five years. More on this later, but first, an introduction to the Singularity for those who may not be familiar with it.
The Singularity, often referred to as the Technological Singularity, is a hypothetical point in the future at which artificial intelligence (Ai) becomes so advanced that it surpasses human intelligence, leading to rapid, unforeseeable changes in society and technology. The term was popularized by mathematician and computer scientist Vernor Vinge and futurist Ray Kurzweil.
At the Singularity, Ai systems would possess the ability to autonomously learn, improve, and create new Ai systems more intelligent than themselves, resulting in an exponential increase in intelligence. This self-improvement cycle could lead to Ai systems that are vastly more capable and sophisticated than human minds.
The Singularity is often associated with the development of artificial general intelligence (AGI), which is an Ai system that can perform any intellectual task that a human being can do. AGI is distinct from narrow Ai, which is designed for specific tasks and lacks the broad cognitive abilities and adaptability of human intelligence.
The implications of the Singularity are the subject of much speculation and debate. Most people who have thought about it agree that the Singularity would be a decisive turning point in human history. Some view this with awe and trepidation, almost like a religious event that will lead to everlasting life and happiness. Many believe it will bring tremendous breakthroughs in medicine, energy, and space exploration. Others are more cautious, expressing concerns about the ethical, societal, and existential risks associated with super-intelligent Ai systems. Some predict doom and gloom. Some think it is impossible.
Predicting the Singularity Start Date
The general caveat to this question given by all experts is that predicting when the Singularity might occur is highly uncertain, as it depends on the pace of Ai research, breakthroughs in understanding human cognition, and the development of advanced hardware and software systems. Still ChatGPT-4 has, just today, gone out on the limb and responded to my dialogue by predicting a 5%-10% chance in five years, 2028. The quote of its actual answer follows.
Predicting the likelihood of the Singularity occurring by 2028 is a complex and speculative task. While AI advancements continue at a remarkable pace, achieving general intelligence within this time frame remains uncertain and heavily debated among experts. Given the current state of AI research and development, we might cautiously estimate the probability of the Singularity occurring by 2028 to be relatively low, around 5%-10%. However, this estimation is subject to change as new breakthroughs and developments emerge in the field of AI.ChatGPT-4, prompt and QC by Losey
Chat GPT-4 did so without knowledge of what has happened since September 2021, when it was last fed data. We know what has happened since September 2021, we know the pace of change, even though the ChatGPT models do not. We know that when ChatGPT-3.5 was released in November 2022, it scored in the bottom 10% of the multi-state Bar exam. But just five months later, when 4.0 was released in March 2023, it scored in the top 10%. Let that sink in and remember no new data was provided. There was only improvement in reasoning ability. As lawyers who have all taken this test, we know better than anyone the significance of a jump from the bottom to the top 10% of this challenging test. Yes, it is getting pretty smart, fast. How much longer until its intelligence exceeds our own?
Opportunities and Challenges Presented by the Singularity
The three opportunities listed here, all good, are generally thought to be possible in a time of technological Singularity, a time where Ai intelligence and capacities accelerate at an exponential rate.
- Accelerated Technological Progress: The Singularity could lead to rapid advancements in various fields, as super-intelligent AI systems develop new technologies and solve complex problems that were previously beyond human reach.
- Economic Growth: With Ai systems handling tasks more efficiently and effectively than humans, productivity and economic growth could increase dramatically, potentially leading to higher standards of living and reduced global inequality.
- Scientific Discoveries: The Singularity might enable breakthroughs in areas such as healthcare, environmental sustainability, and space exploration, as Ai systems analyze vast amounts of data, simulate complex phenomena, and generate innovative solutions to pressing challenges.
Conversely, as usual, their is a flip side to opportunities, the generally accepted challenges, some might say threats, presented by the Singularity:
- Ethical Concerns: As Ai systems surpass human intelligence, ethical considerations become paramount. Ensuring that Ai systems behave ethically, adhere to human values, and respect individual rights will be crucial.
- Job Displacement: The widespread adoption of super-intelligent Ai systems could result in job displacement across various industries, as human workers are replaced by more efficient Ai. This raises concerns about unemployment, workforce retraining, and social safety nets.
- Existential Risks: The Singularity poses potential existential risks, as super-intelligent Ai might act in ways that are harmful to humanity, either intentionally or unintentionally. Ensuring Ai safety and robustness is essential to mitigate these risks.
Preparing for the Singularity
Given the potential opportunities and challenges presented by the Singularity, we should take proactive steps in its anticipation. Again, it is generally agreed that these steps should include:
- Investing in Ai research: Fostering advancements in Ai research, particularly in the areas of Ai safety, ethics, and alignment with human values, can help society navigate the potential risks and benefits of the Singularity.
- Developing adaptable education systems: Ensuring that education systems are adaptable and promote lifelong learning can help individuals acquire the skills and knowledge necessary to thrive in an Ai-driven world.
- Encouraging interdisciplinary collaboration: Promoting collaboration between Ai researchers, ethicists, policymakers, and other stakeholders can facilitate the development of robust, responsible Ai systems and policies that address the societal implications of the Singularity.
- Fostering public engagement and awareness: Encouraging public dialogue about the Singularity and its potential consequences can help society make informed decisions and shape the trajectory of Ai development. (One of the reasons I’m writing this article.)
We need to be prepared for a future in which Ai plays a vastly more significant role in various aspects of society.
Part Two Will Conclude Soon With Four More Sections: 1. The Likely Impact of the Singularity on Lawyers and the Legal System; 2. What Lawyers and Judges Should Do Now to Prepare for the Singularity; 3. What About Ten Years After? and 4. Conclusion. Hopefully the Singularity will not get here before you read Part Two and I read your comments. I’d hate for any of us to get caught unprepared. (Note – as of yet, ChatGPT-4 and other Ai, all seem incapable of subtle sarcasm. May it always be so!)