Time to Start Building Singularity Economy
Persian Version متن فارسی
Since the dotcom bust that happened in the year 2000 in San Francisco, the movement towards post-industrial economies that had started by the advent of Silicon Valley in California and had spread by high-tech centers around the world has essentially taken a back seat. We hear more and more about calls for ‘re-industrialization of America’ and attempts to bring back manufacturing to the U.S. from China and India as a remedy for the chronic economic crisis of the last decade. We also hear talks about exporting industrial products like the 1950's, selling cars to India and China to help create jobs in the U.S.
The economic retreat is being thought of as the result of the tremendous pressure that the war against terrorism, following the WTC attack, has levied on the U.S. economy. But the reality is that the dotcom bust happened a year before the WTC attack and U.S. post-industrial sector had started the retreat at that time. The NASDAQ index which basically reflects the new post-industrial companies was hoped in 1999 to reach equal value to Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJIA) which reflects industrial America. But following the 2001 crisis, NASDAQ had a major drop and has since stabilized around one quarter of DJIA.
Trying to go back to the industrial society of the past is futile today, just as it was futile to try to go back to the agricultural past in the 1930's to remedy the economic woes of the Great Depression.
Ray Kurzweil has shown how we are living in a world of accelerated returns moving towards a Singularity around 2045 (1).
It makes the most sense to start building the Singularity economy from now the same way post-industrial technologies were built in 1970's and 1980's. Just informing people about the plans for creating abundance will not be able to make it possible without actually creating the Singularity economy as a whole (2).
We cannot just raise awareness about the need for these economic changes and hope that the government or existing companies will take the initiative to make them happen. If the growth of Silicon Valley in California is any lesson to learn in recent history, it did not happen by any government initiative or by the old companies. In fact, after its peak, when post-industrial technology companies of Silicon Valley of California had their first major crisis in 2001, getting government help, the way old agricultural and industrial companies used such assistance to get back on their feet, did not happen for the post-industrial firms (3).
Since the year 2000, a major effort in the direction of creating a Singularity economy has been done by Ray Kurzweil, who started Singularity University in Mountain View, California. Although the effort creates many of the skill-sets needed for jump-starting such economy, leaving it to existing companies and government may never allow for its materialization. The same way that new high tech efforts in 1980's were not done by traditional computer firms like Honeywell or by the government and a new breed of companies like Apple spearheaded the efforts which ushered in the rise of Silicon Valley.
New firms need to focus on building the 2045 Singularity economy from today. There would be two paths of biological and nonbiologial development even beyond 2045 with the former being better at areas referred to by synthetic logic (4).
Kurzweil disagrees that biological intelligence will be better than
nonbiological intelligence at anything come the 2030s. He acknowledges that
hardware alone is not sufficient but his key point is that we are making
exponential gains in mastering the software of life and intelligence as well.
What all this means is that we should consciously start building Singularity economies now. The same way that post-industrial zones like Silicon Valley of California were different from smokestack cities of the industrial past, the new Singularity economies will usher in a different way of work and living. Geographically they may be more located in cyberspace than on any specific geographical area on Earth or in space but they will be built with the 'accelerated returns' in mind rather than having the built-in speed limits in their fundamental processes that drag the acceleration (5).
Such new economies would avoid work structures that hamper making itself obsolete, just to keep jobs, by providing abundance at the same time to compensate for the side effects, rather than relaying the accelerated change to a distant future. This means the singularity economies cannot be limited to work and the new regions will have to fulfill human needs by simultaneously generating abundance.
If Silicon Valley type high-tech parks were the byproduct of new post-industrial technology companies without any plans to create them as new regions, the singularity economies should be formed with the expected rate of change built into them from start taking advantage of synergy of various disciplines.
All this may sound very farfetched but it would solve many of the problems we currently face such as the chronic unemployment and its consequence of not generating income, in a different framework. We need the courage to start such efforts; otherwise, we will just subsidize old industries the same way the Western world has subsidized agriculture in the last half century ending up with more global losses than gains.
Sam Ghandchi, Editor/Publisher
December 7, 2012