So I was driving down the Main St. of my little town, minding my own business and rocking out to some NPR when, quel surpise! I noticed the billboard above had been that had been put in just that day. Oh, the horror! My granola eating hippy liberal bleeding heart nearly stopped. A Family Radio billboard in my New England town? How could this be? For those of you who have never heard of these people (jealous!), Family Radio is a broadcast organization, not a church, that believes that the world will end on May 21, 2011. That’s right, according to these folks, we have less than a month left to make our peace with the Big Guy upstairs.
Now, I have no beef with your religion or beliefs. I know no more than the next guy about what’s going on behind the curtains of our reality. What annoys me about this group is that they’re touting this message and convincing people that they will never see the next May 22. Husbands, wives, whole families have given away all their possessions, walked away from their houses and jobs all because of one person’s Biblical calculations. What’s going to happen when the 22nd really does come around and these people are left with literally nothing? While no one can say it was anyone’s fault but their own, I can’t help but feel a pang of Democratic sympathy for the sorry state they are going to be in.
All this got me thinking though, about what my, or rather, my reader’s Rapture would be. Would Wil Wheaton come down from on high and take us all to the final frontier? Perhaps the Doctor will finally appear to whisk us off our feet to a new dimension in time? We can all hope, but in this case I’m talking about the Singularity.
The exact definition of the Singularity can vary, but most believe it is the point at which computers become so advanced that a super-intelligent being is formed (think Footprints of God by Greg Iles. Great book!), which in turn will infinitely further our society to the point where all our problems will be solved. I feel kind of dumb, because before the writing of this article, I believed the Singularity was what was happening at the end of Neon Genesis Evangelion. Or maybe that was my brain evolving into a higher state (haha, no, it was pretty much mush after that show). There was a recent Time article on the very subject of the Singularity, wherein Raymond Kurzweil has stated, using his own math and Moore’s Law, that the event will take place in 2045. Now, is Kurzweil any less of a loony than Family Radio? Maybe, but at least he has a degree at MIT to back up some of what he’s talking about, and he’s designed several machines that help the disabled, whereas Family Radio seems intent on only making people afraid and little else.
And while I think the Singularity is as unlikely to occur as the End of Days, at least I can see the logic in the former. After all, technology is advancing at a fantastic rate. Thirty years ago, a Commodor 64 had an OS that was 32 kilobytes, and today the average OS is more than 4 GB, a number that in 1980’s was inconceivable. I have a phone that would have been considered a supercomputer back then. And our children are using and learning about our tech at a much younger age than we did, which means they will build stuff that goes even faster. However, when we do finally create A.I., it probably won’t manifest in any way we expect it to, and it won’t solve all of our problems (c’mon, didn’t you all see the Matrix?). Every culture from every time point in history has their idea of how it will all End, and none of them have come true. So if you excuse me, I’ll be eating waffles, surfing the web on my tiny computer while I pity those poor souls on Sunday, May 22.