This week, the crew offhandedly addresses one of my favorite topics: the technological Singularity. The idea behind the Singularity is simple: technological innovation is advancing at a prodigious rate, making the future wildly unpredictable. One of the key tennents is the idea of the convergence of humanity and technology. Given that technology is advancing so quickly, how will we as a species integrate with technology? What will work, and what won’t?
Here’s what they talked about on the show.
Sheldon: At best I have 60 years left. 60 only gets me to here. I need to get here. (points to white board)
Leonard: What’s there?
Sheldon: The earliest estimate of the Singularity, when man will be able to transfer his consciousness into machines and achieve immortality.
Leonard: So, you’re upset about missing out on becoming some sort of freakish, self-aware robot…
Sheldon: By this much!
Leonard: Tough break. You want eggs?
Sheldon: You don’t get it, Leonard. I’m going to miss so much: the Unified Field Theory, Cold Fusion, the dogopus…
Leonard: What’s a dogopus?
Sheldon: A hybrid dog and octopus — man’s best underwater friend.
Leonard: Is somebody working on that?
Sheldon: I was going to. I planned on giving it to myself for my 300th birthday.
Sheldon’s description of the Singularity leaves much to be desired, mainly due to its lack of detail. However, that’s probably intentional. If viewers wanted to actually learn about the Singularity, they might do something like, oh, attend the Singularity Summit.
Sheldon considers the Singularity as an ultimate goal, not as a catastrophe or an inevitability. The Peculist summarizes: “In just a few short sentences, [Sheldon] makes a case for life extension, uploading of consciousness, and the achievement of major longstanding scientific aims via cooperation between human and artificial intelligence. Sheldon is a transhumanist!”
That’s a lot of ground to cover in a tiny bit of dialog.
Either way, I’m always excited when geeky ideas are addressed in mainstream media. Well, insomuch as The Big Bang Theory can be considered mainstream.