These two works of fiction go further than any others I have read in imagining what a post-singularity future would be like. They are both also available for free online. I have criticisms of both books but I wholeheartedly recommend them both.
Metamorphosis of Prime Intellect depicts a hard take-off scenario in which a strong AI emerges in the near future. Accelerando depicts a soft take-off with less of an emphasis on strong AIs developing but rather takes the reader through a future in which change happens gradually, albeit quickly and exponentially, and themes of mind-uploading, and augmenting human intelligence play a more prominent role.
Thematically, Metamorphosis of Prime Intellect focuses, to a fault in my opinion, on the hypothetical problem of what it would be like if we had everything. Kurzweil hinted at this theme in the Age of Spiritual Machines in which he recounted an episode of The Twilight Zone in which a man dies and goes to heaven which is a casino where he always wins. Eventually bored with always winning the man asks to go “to the other place” and is told that he is in “the other place.” Personally, I do not think we define our lives with pain and problems. We can also create new games, new art, have new experiences and will probably never run out of things to learn. I think we are better off without real problems in a world where, for instance, there is no war, we could still play war video games if we are so inclined. I think imagining that having everything would be bad is far off base. Nevertheless, I think this book is very interesting and creates a plausible seeming future world that is definitely worth reading.
Note that this story has extreme sex and violence that might offend some
Here is a link to a free full text version ofThe Metamorphosis of Prime Intellect.
Accelerando stretches the limits of human imagination and to my mind embodies the theme that we have no idea what to expect post-singularity. I especially enjoyed the early parts of this book and overall found it very enjoyable. As the novel progresses it gets more incomprehensible but I suppose that might be the point.
Here is a link to the free full text of Accelerando. (I didn’t know it was free and purchased it on kindle myself)
The analogy of “the singularity” as it is sometimes formulated is supposed to be a point that we cannot look beyond. Maybe such a point exists but I still find it fascinating to speculate at what life will be like just before the singularity. Its hard and maybe even impossible to make predictions beyond a certain point but I see no harm in trying. Anyway, I should add that neither book claims to be predicting anything and even predicting the future before the singularity occurs is inherently very hard.