How to prepare our minds for the information singularity?

natural and digital brain
Image credit: 123RF

“And may their illusions rest in peace.”

Martha Ketro

Many of us feel that life is accelerating, and we are not keeping up. We respond to e-mails late, do not have time to respond to posts on social networks, read little, and rarely communicate with relatives and children. In general, we are constantly lagging. We feel like we need to be more organized and plan our day better. We are told that to be successful you need to train your brain and learn to manage your time.

As a doctor, I will tell you the truth – in fact, all this is useless …

The problem is not in us and our disorganization. The problem is the growth of the information flow and the physiological limit of the speed of information processing.

Information singularity – what is it and why is it dangerous

Processing speed is the time it takes for our brain to complete a mental task. The rate at which a person identifies information both visually (through letters and numbers) and auditory (through words and familiar sounds). Technically, this is the time between receiving a stimulus and starting to respond to it.

I will not now go into the details of psychometric testing and methods for experimentally determining the speed of information processing that the human nervous system is capable of. There are several groups of tests based on the classic Konner test and the Wechsler memory scale, as well as special tasks that determine the speed of information processing.

With a high degree of certainty, all the above tests show that the human speed of information perception cannot exceed 50 bits per second. At the same time, such indicators are achievable mainly for some women, in whom the hemispheres of the brain are slightly better connected than in most men. For many men, the maximum perceptual rate will be closer to 40 bps.

Facts you almost certainly didn’t think about

brain and vectors
Image credit: 123RF

In 2020, there were 4.5 billion active users of the World Wide Web in the world. On the evening of March 10, 2020, one of the busiest network nodes in the world (Frankfurt DE-CIX) recorded the highest level of traffic in history – over 9.1 Tbps. This meant that even if all mankind involved on the Internet tried to understand and process such a data stream, then, due to the physiological limit of perception, people would be able to comprehend less than 0.1 percent of the information transmitted by a single network node.

Considering the rate of accumulation of digital information and the fact that more than 90% of the digital data existing in the world was created over the past 10 years, in 20-30 years (between 2040 – 2050) an endless gap will form between the physiological parameters of perception and the total amount of information accumulated by mankind. A person will completely lose the ability to independently navigate and effectively move in the global information field.

What does this mean for the lives of each of us?

This will mean a state of information singularity – in which almost all information will become virtually inaccessible, and what you can get from the worldwide network will in fact reflect the local information field formed around your person.

How to imagine it?

Never has our brain faced this kind of problem, so the information singularity is difficult to comprehend. All we can do is try to model this situation with a hypothetical example.

Let’s say you use a paper address book. This handbook now has 100,000 pages and is a huge book that can hardly fit in your room. If you know the alphabet and have enough time, effort, and perseverance, you can still find the address of a specific person (for example, with the name Raymond Kurzweil). In the state of information singularity, your conditional reference book will have more than 1 quadrillion pages (a number with 62 zeros) and its volume will exceed the volume of our planet. Any search in such conditions will become impossible and all that will remain for you is just to open the page that will be next to you (guess for why it will be nearby). What will be there you will read. Instead of searching, you will be able to receive only the information that was created personally for you.

Was this situation foreseen?

Ray Kurzweil keynote address.
Scientist and philosopher Ray Kurzweil predicted the technological singularity (source: Wikipedia)

It was not for nothing that I mentioned the name of Raymond Kurzweil, a futurist who predicted the onset of a technological singularity in 2045.

In fact, instead of a technological singularity, we will face a much more dangerous phenomenon – an information singularity.

What’s the Difference?

A technological singularity is a moment after which technological progress will accelerate and become so complicated that it becomes inaccessible to human understanding. In other words, the technological singularity is a kind of consumer infantilism raised to the absolute.

But let’s honestly ask ourselves, how many people right now understand where the cutting edge of science is, what is known to mankind and how technology is developing? In fact, 99% of people (including many scientists) have been in this state for a long time.

The information singularity is something less pleasant and more dangerous. In the state of information singularity, it becomes impossible to search for and receive third-party (not prepared for you in advance) information. We note for ourselves that the information singularity is not progress and development, but simply the absence of a choice.

Evolution – our next move or how to survive and win

We must understand that the development of Internet technologies requires from us not only participation and understanding but also a deep physiological transformation.

In order not to lose control over our own lives, we must increase the speed of information processing available to our nervous system. To do this, we will have to connect our brain with a computer system at the level of neurons and neurophysiology. This will remove the bottleneck in the communication channel – the decoding of visual or audio characters.

To do this, in addition to the neurocomputer interface, our brain will need a fast, strong, and maximally accessible assistant. Personal artificial intelligence is not just a new technology. In fact, it is an evolutionary attempt to adapt to the growing ocean of digital information. If we want to maintain the status of the dominant intelligent species in the biosphere, we must immediately begin to modernize our nervous system.

Instead of creating machine intelligence as an alternative to human intelligence, we must turn our biological brain into the heart of a new AI: individual artificial intelligence.

We must realize that we are living in an era of dizzying evolutionary transformation that will culminate in a test of survival.

Exam – the date of which is set for 2045.


  1. I do not agree that we will reach a singularity of information overload. We have always faced an info overload from nature. Our brains have focused on the info relevant to our needs. I agree we need personal IA agents as tools to help us keep focus on the info we need to digest and have digested for us. We have tools like search and navigation. But we still need personal AI agents for health, finances, work tasks and truth-seeking, etc. That is the new frontier. The AI/robot singularity is real and a real threat. We already have smart killer drones swarming around. Military needs will drive this in a bad way. Do we have the collective cooperative spirit to build a sufficient harmony? Our grandchildren depend on it.

  2. Fantastic post. I found the following statement particularly prescient:
    “This will mean a state of information singularity – in which almost all information will become virtually inaccessible, and what you can get from the worldwide network will, in fact, reflect the local information field formed around your person.”
    That sounds to me like we are reverting in a way to the pre-technology world in which the only perceptions one could have were those of his/her immediate surroundings.
    Am I interpreting your conclusion correctly?

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