argument top image

Will AI take our jobs?
Back to question

The singularity is coming

Artificial super intelligence (ASI) will ultimately result in the automation of every conceivable human task, resulting in the end of work for humans
Automation Development Technology


The singularity is the moment at which humans create a machine with 'artificial super intelligence' (ASI), a computer that is capable of teaching itself at an exponential rate and ultimately becoming a near god-like omniscient machine.

The Argument

In 1965, a cryptographer called I.J. Good who had worked with Alan Turing on breaking the enigma code proposed a theory that was then known as the 'information explosion'. He suggested that humankind is increasingly likely to develop a robot with human-level intelligence, or what we now call artificial general intelligence (AGI). Once this level of technology has been reached, it is then highly likely that we will subsequently create what he called 'the first Ultraintelligent Machine' - an AGI that is capable of teaching itself, as humans do, but with a near-infinite amount of time and energy to do so, which humans are incapable of. Good believed that a fully-functioning AGI would be capable of building new machines which could learn faster even than itself, thus beginning a cycle of exponential growth which ultimately would lead to artificial intelligence capable of understanding things far beyond what human brains can understand. In 1999, this theory was expanded upon by the futurist theorist Ray Kurzweil in his book 'The Age of Spiritual Machines'. Kurzweil suggested that machines could develop in a similar format to nature, proposing 'The Law of Accelerating Returns' - an up-to-date version of Good's theory. Kurzweil, however, went further - he suggested that the Law of Accelerating Returns indicates that the singularity will occur in the 21st century, even going so far as to put a date on it: 2045. If the singularity is coming - and coming soon - then AI will not only take human jobs, but will completely transform our societies. Kurzweil calls it a change 'so rapid and profound it represents a rupture in the fabric of human history'. The very idea of work would be an entirely different concept post-ASI revolution. It is likely that all our production, resource, and energy issues will disappear, thus resulting in 'the end of work'.

Counter arguments

The singularity itself has long been theorised, yet appears no closer in 2019 than it did at the turn of the millennium. Humans are very good at being overexcited about the future, and the singularity is simply a case of 'hype' around technological development.



P1 The Singularity is coming P2 Work will not mean the same thing post-singularity P3 Our society will no longer have need for human labour in the same way

Rejecting the premises

P1 - Maybe the singularity won't ever come P2 - Even if it does, maybe it won't change the world of work P3 - We may even work more ... but as human servants to a machine god


This page was last edited on Monday, 26 Oct 2020 at 14:54 UTC

Explore related arguments