“Exponential growth is sometimes difficult to imagine, because human beings, generally speaking, think linearly”, Michio Kaku.

Javier E Belda – IHPS

How can we approach the meanings of something apparently unrepresentable, immersed as we are in the co-presence of everyday life and past events? Can we anticipate a new period? What would be the point of making such an attempt? How can we construct a new conscious look?

We are assailed by many questions, more and more interesting ones?

There are some very striking theories (which we will deal with in future articles) coming from the field of physics: Martin Rees, Lee Smolin, Roger Penrose, Michio Kaku, etc. But first it seems appropriate to understand the meaning, beyond the possible outcomes.

Once we become aware of this dynamic of time in which we participate, we are in a position to dare to imagine.

In our everyday life, evolution is illusorily presented as slow or even static, but that is only an indicator of our capacity for observation, because we know that everything around us changes and we change with it, and it is quite subjective to notice the pace at which it does so.

Even if phenomena suddenly burst upon us that profoundly destabilise us – as in the first moments of the pandemic – this does not mean that we are grasping the acceleration of historical time, nor the Singularity, because we do not have a mega-historical vision immersed in everyday life.

In Letters to my friends, Silo highlights the different ways we humans have of locating ourselves “There are those who confuse their life with their routines, but this is not at all the case since very often they must choose within the conditions imposed on them by the environment.”[1] The emergence of “the new” is a new way of life, a new way of life.

The emergence of “the new”

Nazaretian argues that, as the mother system enters the impasse of monotonous growth, it loses sustainability, at which point the rule of redundant variety comes into play.

“It is clearly observed in the pre-human stages of the history of the Universe and also in the post-Neolithic stages of the development of society and culture” (Nazaretian, 2005).

Alexander Panov referred to the same idea as surplus internal diversity.

Surplus internal diversity is understood as those forms of organisation that do not play a significant structuring role in the system-planet and do not give notable evolutionary advantages at the current stage of development. However, at the moment of the onset of the evolutionary crisis, precisely some of these forms of surplus internal diversity provide the appropriate response to the crisis and become the new structuring factor for the next stage of development. [2]

For M. R. Cobos this would be the Law of overcoming the old by the new. However, the 4 laws developed by Silo are correlated, so it is necessary to consider them simultaneously (beyond a sequential vision).

Law of structure: “Nothing exists in isolation, but in dynamic relation with other beings within conditioning ambits”.

[…]Law of concomitance: “Every process is determined by simultaneity relations with processes in the same ambit and not by linear causes of the preceding movement from which it originates”.

[…]Law of cycle: “Everything in the Universe is in evolution and goes from the simplest to the most complex and organised, according to cyclic times and rhythms”.

[…]Law of overcoming the old by the new: “The continuous evolution of the Universe shows the rhythm of differences, combinations and syntheses of ever greater complexity. New syntheses assume the previous differences and eliminate matter and energy qualitatively unacceptable for more complex steps”.

With this Law we study the transformation of the individual and its relation to the changes of the larger ambit within which it is included. This law is related to the previous one and explains that a structure disintegrates because it cannot cope with the new situations imposed on it by development; on the other hand, the newer and more vigorous elements develop from within itself until they displace the older system. This new system is more complex and evolved than the old one. Many elements are discarded because they are like dead ends. Although all experience is important, many elements are not constructive. Those elements that are not useful for new experiences to be built upon are called non-constructive, non-progressive experiences. This idea explains the overcoming of the old by the new. The new, however, is structured according to previous experiences. In particular on the most recent ones. As one experience builds on others that are progressive, concomitantly others, the most regressive ones, are left aside. This postulate allows us to study the compositional aspect of an object, phenomenon or situation, and explains how dynamics occur within a process.[3] Without going into detailed examples, we will say that the process is not a process, but a process.

Without going into detailed examples, we will say that this rule is present in every crisis and its subsequent resolution scenario, it is at the essence of all revolutions.

The great thinkers, in answering the questions of their time, sought the foundations of a morality free of condemnations from beyond the grave, lines of support for vital activity that lead beyond the limits of individual existence without appealing to submission to celestial authorities or to the collective totem; a spirituality without mysticism and a solidarity without confrontation. These ideas, not sufficiently valued by most of their contemporaries, are now becoming truly required by history and their “redundant variety” could constitute the carcass of a new planetary worldview.[4] Paradoxes of Singularity

Paradoxes of the Singularity

We now wonder about the point of the Singularity.

During the evolution of life on the planet, numerous revolutionary transformations (phase transitions) have occurred, which specialists have analysed, looking in detail at the mechanisms at work and giving numerous examples. But is all this applicable to the point of Singularity?

In article 2 of this series we referred to “attractors and scenarios”. And given that the Singularity is itself a major systemic crisis, it would be logical to apply the same reasoning that has been given in the phase transitions of the evolving system up to that point. But at this point the “first paradox” appears: is this not too linear a way of representing the phenomenon? It cannot be that we give the same treatment to the Singularity as to any of the phase transitions that produce it.

We saw that in the transitions the outcome was given by three tendencies: the simple attractor (descending and thermodynamic) and the other two: the horizontal (anti-evolutionary) and the vertical (ascending), which in practice is the one that has been produced in the great evolutionary milestones that make up the asymptote of evolutionary events.

In contrast, the Singularity point (a term borrowed from physics to explain non-predictable phenomena) represents the collapse of the function that governed the system up to that point. Therefore, a linear transfer is not mathematically correct. At the point of Singularity, a mystery simply happens, as it happens inside a Black hole. There is no mathematics to describe the phenomenon.

But our Singularity does not refer to black holes or space-time, but to the evolutionary process that includes us. We can imagine something then…

When the evolution function collapses, the system will also face its disappearance or possible survival, either frozen or increasing, with the difference that the jump in scale will affect at that point the whole evolutionary system in general (since the emergence of life on the planet, as has been pointed out in previous articles).

This is not a question that can be tackled quickly without considering its magnitude, especially when we are applying a somewhat linear hypothesis (based on what is known) to something that appears to be unsolvable. We are at the limits of the capacity to represent.

Let us make a significant digression. In humanist psychology, mental acts are differentiated from objects of representation.

There is a minimal structuring on the basis of which all mechanisms of consciousness function, which is this act-object structure. Just as stimulus-records function, so do acts-objects function in consciousness, linked by this structural mechanism of the consciousness; this intentional mechanism of the consciousness. Acts are always referred to objects, whether they are tangible, intangible or merely psychic objects.

Just as the senses and memory are always at work, so consciousness is continually launching acts directed towards objects. This link between an act and an object is not permanent, since there are acts launched in search of their object, and it is precisely this situation that gives the consciousness its dynamic.[5] In Psychology Notes he explains that the consciousness is always at work.

In Psychology Notes, Silo explains that objects never fully compensate for the acts launched.

So, as far as the logarithmic resolution of the evolution function is concerned, the idea of Singularity is for the moment an act of consciousness launched in search of an object that satisfactorily explains it.

There are those who do not feel comfortable with the theory of the Singularity (historians, anthropologists, etc.), not because of a minor question, but because of a problem of magnitudes. The question is: whether it is permissible to include “human culture” in the same graph alongside the events that shaped matter, the stars or the planets.

In other words, they believe that criteria should be defined when setting certain milestones on the event axis of a graph. In fact, a timeline should be established for cosmic events and another for human life and history by means of two complementary graphs. This is the only way to adjust the point of view to the right scale, otherwise, from a cosmological point of view, it will be very difficult to weigh the events on the human scale.

Exemplifying this point of view, it is very true that the leap from the Palaeolithic to the Neolithic was enormous, comparable only to certain geological events and even to the appearance of life on the planet. But the same is not true of other phase transitions shown in the graphs cited in the first article, or at least the leap is not presented to us with the same forcefulness. For example, the “industrial revolution” or the “computer revolution” are too contrasted (small), for example, with respect to the formation of the Solar System.

Indeed, if we reduce the entire history of the universe to one Earth year, human life would take the equivalent of 0.21 seconds, as Carl Sagan illustrated in his Cosmic Calendar (see article 1). Which is illustrative: standing in the cosmos, there is not much to highlight in that small time span.

The point here is not to take sides, but to analyse the question in order to elucidate whether the Singularity will occur in the coming years or centuries, or whether it is already happening.

Rehearsing a rejoinder from the point of view of big history, it is evident that historical time is accelerating, which includes the cosmic matter of which we are made and which gives us our origin. Therefore, an acceleration – whether uniform or non-uniform – will produce a point of Singularity at some point in the scale of human life.

For megahistory, the phenomena of the cosmos and the strangeness of the whole extra-dimensional world is not a matter for the gods alone, alien to men. Various myths depicted the rebellion against the mysterious as a struggle between gods and men.

Greek mythology tells how Prometheus stole fire from the gods to give it to men. Jan Cossiers’ work (Prometheus Bringing Fire) shows the moment when Prometheus escapes from Olympus with the sacred flame.

Singularities happen, they are real. Drawing a simile with the life of a living being: it is born, grows, develops and finally dies. Extrapolating, the death of the living being is equivalent to the Singularity, a mystery in which perhaps the essence of that being, self-transformed by its life process, continues its evolution with detachment from its physical ashlar in the dimension of the known… Or not.

This brings us to a “second question” about the present moment: While we are mired in uncertainty about the future, it is no less true that many humans remain deluded in their routines, in a certain Style of Life aligned with the established system, oblivious to the supposed phase transitions, from which they have inhibited themselves, insofar as they could do so.

So, as we approach the “point of singularity” are we to assume that we are better able to cope with crises, so much so that they may go unnoticed by some?

On the other hand, there are other certainties that remain immovable with respect to the Singularity: it seems clear that historical time is accelerating, crises are happening faster and faster. Moreover, crises have a planetary scope, they can hardly be confined to a specific area of the planet, as their effects go far beyond a globally interconnected world. The scale of these crises is also increasingly disconcerting, if we think of the examples cited in previous articles concerning nanotechnology, genetics, AI or quantum computing.

This being the case, we can imagine that in the human process a global crisis will occur more and more frequently. Silo, in Letters to my Friends, describes this situation of bewilderment in the face of growing chaos.

  1. Change and crisis: In this time of great change, individuals, institutions and society are in crisis. Change will become more and more rapid, as will individual, institutional and societal crises. This heralds upheavals that may not be assimilated by large sections of the population.
  2. Disorientation: The transformations that are occurring take unexpected directions producing general disorientation regarding the future and what to do in the present. It is not really the change that disturbs us, as we see many positive aspects in it. What disturbs us is not knowing in which direction the change is going and where to orient our activity. [6]

The register we have of this situation leads us to realise that it is not true that one can have a succession of crises in a world scenario of Singularity and remain oblivious and indifferent to one’s “normal” life.

Those who advocate a horizontal attractor as an evolutionary possibility afterwards should answer whether this horizontality entails keeping us permanently in a situation of systemic crisis, with no possible resolution, continually immersed in the myth of Sisyphus, or whether we should imagine a kind of ultra-technological paradise on Earth that will solve all problems.

This possibility does not seem to us to be compatible with the idea of crisis, nor with the idea of evolution, nor with processual dynamics.

Representing the Singularity only in intellectual terms could lead us to the mistake of going round in a closed circle, imagining great events and evolutionary leaps while ordinary people remain indifferent to these questions and continue to be immersed in their way of life, which was gestated thousands of years ago and which is supposed to be obsolete at the point of polyfurcation.


  1. Some positions on the current process of change

In the slow progress of mankind, factors have accumulated to the point where the speed of technological and economic change does not match the speed of change in social structures and human behaviour. This mismatch tends to increase and to generate progressive crises. This problem is approached from different points of view. There are those who assume that the mismatch will automatically regulate itself and therefore recommend not to try to guide this process, which, moreover, would be impossible to steer. This is an optimistic mechanistic thesis. There are others who assume that we are heading for an irremediable explosion point. This is the case of the pessimistic mechanists. There are also the moral currents that seek to halt change and, if possible, to return to supposedly comforting sources. They represent an anti-historical attitude. But also, the contemporary Cynics, Stoics and Epicureans began to raise their voices. Some deny importance and meaning to any action; others face the facts with fortitude even when everything goes wrong. Finally, the third, trying to remove it from the situation and thinking only of their hypothetical well-being, which they extend, at most, to their children. As in the final epochs of past civilisations, many people assume attitudes of individual salvation on the assumption that there is no point or chance of success in any task undertaken as a whole. In any case, the whole is useful for strictly personal speculation and therefore business, cultural or political leaders need to manipulate and improve their image by making themselves credible, making others believe that they think and act for the benefit of others. Of course, such an occupation has its pitfalls because everyone knows the trick and no one believes in anyone else. The old religious, patriotic, cultural, political and guild values are subordinated to money in a field where solidarity and thus collective opposition to the scheme are swept away as the social fabric gradually breaks down. Then will come another stage in which rugged individualism will be overcome… but that is a subject for later. With our formation landscape behind us and our beliefs in crisis, we are not yet in a position to admit that this new historical moment is approaching. Today, whether we hold a small amount of power or depend absolutely on the power of others, we all find ourselves touched by individualism in which those who are better installed in the system clearly have the advantage. [7]

Therefore, from a systemic and humanistic point of view, it seems right to imagine – even in the short term – a point of evolutionary singularity of our species.

Perhaps the Singularity will express itself beyond intellectual interpretations and unsuspecting individuals.

[1] Silo. Collected Works vol.1.Letters to my friends. Third letter. Ediciones Humanistas. Madrid. 1998. Pág. 554

[2] Alexander Panov. Evolutionary bifurcation point. Institute of Astronomy – Lomonosov Univ. Moscow, 1991.

[3] Jorge Pompei. “Theory and practice of the dynamic structural method”, World Centre for Humanist Studies, Buenos Aires, 2008. P. 36

[4] Akop Nazaretian. Non-Linear Future. Suma Qamaña Ed. Buenos Aires, 2005. P. 360

[5] Silo. Psychology notes. Ulrica Ediciones, Rosario, 2006.

[6] Silo. Collected Works vol.1. Letters to my friends. Third letter. Ediciones Humanistas. Madrid. 1998. P. 550

[7] Ibid. Second letter. P. 544

PART ONE: Singularity: Fundamentals (Part 1) (pressenza.com)

PART TWO: Singularity: Attractors and Scenarios (Part 2) (pressenza.com)