About the Singularity Collection
Date: May 1997. Location: New York City. On one side, Garry Kasparov, who is unquestionably one of the best chess players in the world. He’s 32 years old and he’s at the prime of his career. On the other, an ugly square monitor. It’s the most-watched television event since man set foot on the Moon.
After 19 moves, Kasparov lowers his head and acknowledges his defeat. It’s the fifth and final match between the two players, and Deep Blue, IBM’s two-ton mega computer, powered by 256 microprocessors, which can analyse 100 million chess moves in seconds, beats the brightest mind in chess.
Back then, we were afraid this was the beginning of the end of humanity’s duel with artificial intelligence. But the death blow was still a long time away.
Twenty years went by, Kasparov carried on with his life. So did humanity. Meanwhile, machines became smart, fast, intelligent, implacable.
Human beings constantly regressed, giving more and more space to the monster baby that we have been feeding in the background while we’ve been watching it grow.
Today things have picked up speed: a mobile phone is all it takes to defeat all-time chess world champion Magnus Carlsen in just a few moves. Today a cell phone contains more technology than Nasa, the Pentagon and the White House combined had fifty years ago.
Nowadays, Artificial Intelligence (AI) can do so many things that it doesn’t deserve to make newspaper covers. It deserves, instead, to take over all newspapers. And soon, our lives. Although it may have already, covertly, done that.
AI feeds off of us. We are at the bottom of the food chain. Without even realising, we eagerly tell it what we like, what we hate, what makes us happy. Every time we like something on social media or when we buy or sell an item online, secretly, a massive AI device chews it, swallows it and digests it, like a boa constrictor.
It’s been years since mother knew best. Now knowledge is in the hands of a bunch of AI that buzzes happily whilst it snacks up human information, learns from it and digests it. It grows bigger and bigger day after day.
The equation is painful: the more intelligent the machines, the more dependent the human being.
Without a doubt. Our parents memorised phone numbers, did math problems in their head, and could fix anything that broke around the house. And our grandparents planted crops and even bred cattle.
Humanity stumbles, like a drunk wobbling down the stairs.
The easier something is, the more it seems like a drag.
The more seamless, the more boring.
The less demanding, the more dependent.
More delivery, less legwork.
In this century, where we live on the verge of metaverses and blockchains, where the lines between humans and robots are blurred, there are already sporting events where humans compete against machines. And we can buy computer-generated human faces, NFT avatars are on sale for millions of dollars, and a video can be faked to make the President of the United States look like Mickey Mouse —although that may be unnecessary.
In a world run by machines, optimistically, work as we know it would be over and we would spend our time chilling and enjoying our hobbies. With all the free time in the world, would we finally achieve that “sand between our toes sensation” that we call happiness?
Or would AI make our lives so easy, cosy and idle that we’d want to shoot ourselves? Would we be condemned to live in an all-inclusive resort for the rest of our lives?
Nobody knows what machines will do with us. Will they treat us like old furniture, not even worthy to hold a saltshaker? Or will they use as a cattle, mascots or unhealthy entertainment?
Elon Musk may be right, maybe we are just characters in this simulated videogame that we call life, and there is a good chance that it could finish in Game Over.
The human being, such is our essence, learns by trial and error. We fall and fall time and again until we learn to stay upright and walk.
At first, machines needed our help to learn. Now, OMG, they can learn, like we do, and they do so at lightning speed (it’s called Deep Learning, and although it sounds boring, you should probably start to read up on things like Artificial Neural Networks and Diffusion Models because they might be the languages of the future).
Have you noticed how the pieces fall into place? In the blink of an eye, the day will come when you hear about Singularity, the moment when AI runs wild and speak its own language, and the world will belong to it as much as it belongs to us.
Humanity will be one click away from extinction. Or maybe machines will show us mercy and put us to sleep a lucid dream where we have lives, families, get divorced, get sick and get lucky. In exchange, we will have to gobble down all the virtual AdWords we find along the way.
In that digital limbo, we will dream that we are somebody and that we have freedom of choice. Meanwhile, behind the scenes, on the other side of consciousness, a world of machines that crawl and copulate in a black, oily and buzzing abyss where the new rulers of the world dream of electric sheep. A Matrix-like atmosphere that AI let us watch while we ate popcorn. In other words, machines laughed in our faces.
And they will do so for century after century, continuing their advance, tirelessly and without error. From time to time, they may release an innocuous, salty and see-through particle. A tear of regret shed because they forever buried their human creator in the big sleep.