Excerpted from a presentation by collective intelligence theorist Pierre Levy:
“Kurzweil’s singularity is purely based on techno science and ignores almost completely the cultural and social evolution. This is his main flaw, in my opinion. By contrast, I think that the main revolution ahead is not bio-mechanical but cultural. It will be a transformation linked to new writing systems, a new literacy and a radical scientific revolution in humanities that will exploit the ocean of digital data and the automatic symbol manipulation (computing power) that is now available. We still don’t have any strong and valuable intellectual tradition for the use of the digital medium because it is only one or two generations old. But it is our responsibility of scholars and humanists to build it and to recollect and enhance in this new tradition the hermeneutic knowledge that we inherited from our predecessors.
Several years ago, Lanier predicted the triumph of virtual reality and the dismissal of symbolic systems because he thought that humans would soon interact mainly in a sensori-motor way in 3D virtual worlds. At the time, I strongly disagreed with him. The experience proved that he was completely wrong. He is still wrong today in his condemnation of collaborative intelligence because – again – he ignores symbolism. He cannot imagine the emergence of (still unknown) intellectual and social conventions that will accommodate the new technical conditions of communication. By contrast, my predictions of the merging of computer networks and hypertexts (in 1990, before the Web), my forecasting of the emergence of new forms of collective intelligence in the digital medium (in 1994) and my general description of cyber culture as a socio-cultural mutation in a new “social medium” (1997) were rather correct…”