Dec 9, 2014

Sam Chaltain: The Singularity is Coming. What Should Schools Be Doing About It?

Posted by in categories: education, singularity

Sam Chaltain — NEPC

Whenever I want to get a feel for the national mood, I look to Hollywood – and the films it thinks we’ll pay to see. In the post-911 malaise, there was the dystopian world of The Dark Knight. In the era of extended male adolescence, there’s just about anything from Judd Apatow. And now, in the shadow of the Technological Singularity, there are a slew of movies about humankind’s desire to transcend the biological limits of body and brain.

What’s the Singularity, you say? That’s the moment when the whole game board changes – the moment when artificial intelligence purportedly pulls even with, and then rapidly exceeds (or merges with) human intelligence. Hollywood’s best effort to portray it thus far is Spike Jonze’s Her, the unsettling story of a man who falls in love with his operating system, which also happens to be the first artificially intelligent OS (think Siri with a personality, and a conscience, and Scarlett Johansson’s voice). But there are others: Lucy, the film about a woman (curiously, also Scarlett Johansson) who begins to use 100% of her brain’s capacity; Transcendence, in which Johnny Depp plays a dying scientist who gives the Grim Reaper the slip by uploading his mind to the mainframe; and then, starting October 10, there’s Automata, a story about the moment man-made robots acquire a consciousness separate from their creators.

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