(Note: Small Boo had these thoughts, not me. But she hasn’t got a blog, at least not that I know of.)
There’s an idea knocking about in the tech world called the singularity. Essentially, it’s the point at which artificial intelligence transcends human cognition, where machines become cleverer than brains. It’s long been assumed that the singularity, if it happens, will be a case of machines playing catch-up, of AI’s thinking power developing faster than that of homo sapiens.
But then a news story broke a few days ago, about the budget airline RyanAir seeking to identify people travelling with fake South African passports by setting them a general knowledge test in Afrikaans. This has inevitably caused great offence as Afrikaans is still seen by many South Africans as the hated language of apartheid; but aside from the PR blooper, it’s a pretty pointless exercise, since only 13% of citizens speak the language – Zulu and Xhosa are more widespread. Add the fact that the questions on the test are littered with grammatical errors and it really looks as if some junior RyanAir apparatchik ran them through Google translate, operating on a vague memory that it’s one of the languages that they speak down there.
And the thought presents itself – could the singularity arrive as a result of AI standing still, while humanity’s intelligence declines to meet it?