The concept of the singularity refers to the moment when the advances in technology will lead to the creation of an artificial super-intelligence that will bring about inconceivable changes in human civilization. Indeed, some futurists, like Google’s Ray Kurzweil, predict that this cataclysmic shift will take place in the near future – even before this century’s halfway mark.
It is widely recognized that here in Greece we are almost allergic even to much more pedestrian changes. The Greek economy’s inability to keep pace with technological developments was one the key reasons why the country was so vulnerable to the global financial hurricane of 2008.
These days, after 10 years of crisis, Greece is growing again. But the public sector remains sclerotic and unmeritocratic, while the cuts imposed by the bailouts have hurt vital government services. Businesses that want to invest still face a chaotic bureaucracy and prohibitively high taxes and social insurance costs. Greece ranks near the bottom in most digital skills rankings that compare European Union member-states. The Greek “singularity” is undermining the recovery.
On November 19 and 20, Singularity University, a think-tank and educational organization co-founded by Kurzweil and Greek-American engineer, physician and entrepreneur Peter Diamandis and based in Silicon Valley in the United States, will hold the first ever Greek Singularity Summit. Scientists, entrepreneurs and philosophers, among them Dr Diamandis, will offer conference participants a crash course in the map of our economic and social future.
They will describe the major changes that are taking place in sectors like artificial intelligence, the Internet of Things and biotechnology, and explain in what direction these are likely to evolve.
These are matters we must engage with, if Greece is to have a chance at improving its position in the international division of labor. Alternatively, we can continue to argue about the Civil War and the nature of neoliberalism, while the country’s stagnation becomes even more entrenched.