If you’re interested in the future, and how it will impact you and your business, this is an area you need to be tracking….. the singularity.

The technological singularity is a hypothetical event in which an upgradable intelligent agent (such as a computer running software-based artificial general intelligence) enters a ‘runaway reaction’ of self-improvement cycles, with each new and more intelligent generation appearing more and more rapidly, causing an intelligence explosion and resulting in a powerful superintelligence whose cognitive abilities could be, qualitatively, as far above humans’ as human intelligence is above ape intelligence

From one perspective this is a frightening place for we humans to arrive at. Nobody has any idea what a world might look like where machines can both improve themselves on their own, and then overtake human abilities. Of course there are amazing scenarios that are possible as well. Whichever approach you take, it’s a future that right now, we can’t imagine.

A post on Live Science suggests the year 2100 is when robots will overtake human beings. Much sooner is 2030, another year thrown around where we’ll see computers become smarter than us. While it’s tempting to dismiss this as science fiction, there are signs of this inflection point all around us….

Humans have already relinquished many intelligent tasks, such as the ability to write, navigate, memorize facts or do calculations, Joan Slonczewski, a microbiologist at Kenyon college and the author of a science-fiction book called “The Highest Frontier,” (Tor Books, 2011). Since Gutenberg invented the printing press, humans have continuously redefined intelligence and transferred those tasks to machines. Now, even tasks considered at the core of humanity, such as caring for the elderly or the sick, are being outsourced to empathetic robots, she said.

One macro area of thought that I’m curious about is what will happen to human beings when they are largely replaced by technology (computers and then robots)? We face a world in which a large portion of the population could be replaced in a very short period of time. Massive unemployment means massive problems, no matter how you spin it.

“A society or economy made primarily of robots will not fear destroying nature in the same way that we should fear destroying nature,” Hanson said.

And others worry that we’re barreling toward a future that doesn’t take people into account. For instance, self-driving cars could improve safety, but also put millions of truck drivers out of work, Hibbard said. So far, no one is planning for those possibilities.

“There are such strong financial incentives in using technology in ways that aren’t necessarily in everyone’s interest,” Hibbard said. “That’s going to be a very difficult problem, possibly an unsolvable problem.”