Egan dismisses Singularity, maybe

From: Damien Broderick (
Date: Mon Apr 22 2002 - 02:14:05 MDT

It's a capital mistake to confuse a writer with the fiction, let alone one
character in a cast. Still this is a provocative passage in SCHILD'S
LADDER. I'm still reading the book, so for all I know there's a fullblown
Spike before the end, but I was struck by how Egan's moderately posthuman
figures are placed 20,000 years hence with no mention of anyone having
Sublimed. Then on p.55 [UK edition]:


`What do you think you're going to find in there [a new region of altered
spacetime]? Some great shining light of transcendence?'
        `Hardly.' _Transcendence_ was a content-free word left over from religion,
but in some moribund planetary cultures it had come to refer to a mythical
process of mental restructuring that would result in vastly greater
intelligence and a boundless cornucopia of hazy superpowers--if only the
details could be perfected, preferably by someone else. It was probably an
appealing notion if you were so lazy that you'd never actually learnt
anything about the universe you inhabited, and couldn't quite conceive of
putting in the effort to do so; this magical cargo of transmogrification
was sure to come along eventually and render the need superfluous.
        Tchicaya said, `I already possess general intelligence, thanks. I don't
need anything more.' It was a rigorous result in information theory that
once you learn in a sufficiently flexible manner--something humanity had
achieved in the Bronze Age--the only limits you faced were speed and
storage; all other structural changes were just a matter of style.

Damien Broderick

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