Out of the gate with my first blog post for my novel, Ebocloud, I should really address my use of the buzz phrase “Social Singularity” in the promotional tag line. It’s been hard to find a way to encapsulate what Ebocloud is “about” and, assuming we all get this singularity thing, it’s useful, so for those who haven’t happened upon the term, here’s a brief intro:
Ever get the feeling that this amazing onrush of technology—the internet, social networking, smartphones, interactive/interconnected everything—will at some point reach some kind of critical mass and just sort of take on a life—or mind—of its own? That type of occurrence, loosely interpreting the theories of Vernor Vinge and Ray Kurzwell, is what would be known as a singularity—a universally significant event occurring as a result of the convergence of all sorts of cool technology and circumstances.
In fact, quite a few very smart people are currently of the belief that the singularity is just about inevitable. The Singularity Institute for Artificial Intelligence (SIAI) defines the singularity as “the technological creation of smarter-than-human intelligence” and, thus, something we can’t find words to describe (although a writer might bristle at the description of “an event so huge that there are no metaphors left”).
For Ebocloud, I wanted to explore the possibility of the singularity resulting from the unbridled proliferation of social media technologies. Developers have been endlessly creative in finding artificial means to pull us human beings closer and closer together, weaving their ever more dense social fabric. (From whence this intense desire to knit our souls together online?) On Facebook, we display all of our interests and vanities; on Twitter we send out minute-to-minute status updates; on Foursquare, we check in with our precise positions on Earth. All of these and hundreds of competitive social media services are exchanging, aggregating and analyzing data for purposes known and yet to be determined. And yet one thing seems (again) inevitable—that this unchecked social networking juggernaut is leading toward some kind of super-human amalgamation of intelligence that will take the human race… well, maybe to the Jersey Shore, for all we know, but something’s going to happen, that’s for darn certain.
In the Ebocloud story, there’s a highly-principled computer scientist who recognizes the inevitability of the coming social singularity and realizes that, if set off in a controlled, scientific way, there’s a chance it could alter the world for the better (just imagine). And interestingly, he sees that it could be set off in a blink of the eye (evolutionarily speaking) with the introduction of one very clever new tech “device”.
As they say at SIAI, “The Singularity is beyond huge, but it can begin with something small.”