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Singularity Index

Depictions of the singularity, as seen through the lens of pop culture

2 min read

This is part of IEEE Spectrum's SPECIAL REPORT: THE SINGULARITY

The singularity—that pivotal moment when machines attain superhuman intelligence—may never arrive, but don’t tell Hollywood. Over the years, writers, directors, and set designers have envisioned worlds in which machines rule. Whether benign or evil or somewhere in between, these mechanized souls tend to mirror society’s own attitudes toward technology. In the 1927 silent classic Metropolis, the robot doppelgänger Maria foments rebellion among the human workers—a reflection of that era’s real-world struggles over labor and class. The trust-in-technology 1950s and early 1960s, by contrast, yielded a fleet of friendly helpers, from Robby the Robot in Forbidden Planet to Rosey, the automaton maid in ”The Jetsons.” Recent incarnations of humanlike machines have been more subtly drawn: though often physically superior, they remain conflicted about their existence and uneasy about their human creators. Here we offer a few depictions of the singularity, as seen through the lens of pop culture.

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Why Functional Programming Should Be the Future of Software Development

It’s hard to learn, but your code will produce fewer nasty surprises

11 min read
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A plate of spaghetti made from code
Shira Inbar
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You’d expectthe longest and most costly phase in the lifecycle of a software product to be the initial development of the system, when all those great features are first imagined and then created. In fact, the hardest part comes later, during the maintenance phase. That’s when programmers pay the price for the shortcuts they took during development.

So why did they take shortcuts? Maybe they didn’t realize that they were cutting any corners. Only when their code was deployed and exercised by a lot of users did its hidden flaws come to light. And maybe the developers were rushed. Time-to-market pressures would almost guarantee that their software will contain more bugs than it would otherwise.

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