Achieving 'Singularity' Through Collaboration, Sharing, and 'Open' Solutions

Want a look into the future? Check out Doug Wolens’ recently released documentary film entitled, “The Singularity.” It contains a truly impressive cast of scientists, futurists and philosophers discussing the uncertainty of what the future holds for humanity as we move towards that moment in time where we achieve ‘singularity."

The breadth of topics covered in the film is truly impressive: artificial intelligence, nanotechnology, biotechnology, genomics, regenerative medicine, cybernetics, transhumanism, ethics, and much more. If you don’t have time to see the movie, but want to know a little more about this intriguing topic, take a quick read through this article.

The term 'Singularity' was coined by mathematician John von Neumann and first popularized by science fiction writer Vernor Vinge.  The concept was further popularized recently by futurists  Ray Kurzweil in his book and award winning film  "The Singularity is Near." 

One definition of singularity relates to that moment in time when bioengineering, artificial intelligence, informatics and other technologies have advanced so far that humanity can transcend current biological limitations – transforming our lives in ways we can't yet imagine. It involves a moment in time when the human race finds it can potentially extend human life indefinitely. 

A number of scientists and eFuturists are predicting ‘the singularity’ will occur around the 2030-2040 timeframe.  Some key individuals and institutions you might want to investgate on your own include:

  • Singularity Institute -  A leader in studying the impact of advanced artificial intelligence on the future, the Institute has expanded to become a networking center for scientists, entrepreneurs, and investors collaborating and working on a range of inter-related emerging technologies.
  • Singularity University - The university aims to leverage the power of exponential growth in knowledge and technologies to solve humanity’s grand challenges.  Their mission is to assemble, educate and inspire a new generation of leaders who strive to collaborate, share, understand, and utilize advancing technologies for the good of humanity.
  • Singularity Summit - This recurring conference is open to the public, is the premier event on robotics, artificial intelligence, brain-computer interfacing, and other emerging technologies including genomics and regenerative medicine.
  • Singularity Hub  -  This is both a blog and news network covering the latest in robots, genetics, longevity, artificial intelligence, aging, stem cells, and more. Its focus is on ‘Singularity’, when mankind will transcend current intellectual and biological limitations and initiate an intelligence and information explosion beyond imagining – one of the next stages of the ‘Information Age’.

Some recent articles written and posted by Open Health News staff on related topics you might be interested in reading about include:

Also, some other white paper, reports, and articles on the ‘Singularity’ you might want to scan include:

For those in the ‘open source’ health informatics community, The Coming Health Care Singularity will be one of the many topics covered at the OSEHRA Summit to be held later this year.  According to the abstract for the session, “Healthcare Singularity is now on the horizon and will happen rapidly as patients and physicians begin to interact outside the institutional EHR context. It will first become evident in situations where empowered patients have access to experienced advocates and significant social networks. It will be attended by physicians who choose open source and cloud information technology that, by design, is equally accessible to all the members of the care team.”

Finally, in a previous article on the future of medicine posted in Open Health News entitled “Notes on the Future of Health Care in America: 2020-2050,” the following projections were offered up:

  • Medical advances will include: teeth regeneration; cures for hearing loss; stem cell R&D; major advances in genomics and preventive care; use of implantable medical devices and nanobots; and much more.
  • Complete organ replacements grown from stem cells will become possible in the 2020-2030 timeframe leading to growth of a major new bio-industry. Regenerative medicine will become a reality.
  • Recent breakthroughs in remote surgery, gene manipulation, cloning, and molecularization of microchips have opened a world of untold possibilities.

The coming decades will be an exciting time for both the scientists collaborating on these transformative changes and mankind in general. The implications of achieving ‘Medical’ Singularity need to be the topic of frank, ‘open’, and continuous discussion from this point forward across the globe.

Author:  Peter Groen, senior editor at Open Health News (OHN). He worked for the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) for over 30 years. During his federal career, he occupied a number of senior health Information Technology (IT) management positions within VA Headquarters and in the field.