Once we start to unbundle some of the assumptions n that position, we come across some interesting and surprising futures that normally don't enter into the discussion about the Singularity. For example, there is often an assumption that we will continue to enjoy an abundance of cheap and readily available electricity. Much of the argument about accelerating change assumes this as a base assumption.
Some time ago, we wrote about how that assumption could be called into question, and pointed to the potential of an energy gap in the UK in this decade . This piece, from 2008, talked about the lights going out and the vulnerability of our information networks. We put together potential brown outs with the operation of the Internet, and found that we had a problem looming in this decade. It now appears that the problem is closer than ever . According to Ofgem, we are on the brink of an energy crisis.
Of course, those organisations that exercise a degree of foresight will not have the problems suggested by Ofgem. They will have an array of back-up generators. They will probably be able to tap into the electricity generation of renewable sources - particularly solar and wind. They will have a contingency plan for when the lights go out and the Internet goes down. They will also be part of a miniscule number of organisations that have exercised basic foresight. The truth is that this development will engulf many organisations, if it were to occur, as so few are ready for this possibility.
One of the consequences of the lights going out is that the pace of accelerating change will slow. Indeed, it may slow the the point where we have decelerating change. If that were to occur, then the single point estimate of when the Singularity will occur will have to be put back. In that respect, the Singularity will be postponed. This could have the beneficial effect of allowing our social infrastructure, such as the legal system or business models, to keep pace with technological changes.
The Singularity won't, however, be cancelled. The prospect of intense energy shortages is likely to stimulate all sorts of new technologies around the issue of energy storage and conservation. It will create a problem that human ingenuity will want to solve. This process has occurred since the onset of the Industrial Revolution, and there is no reason to suggest that it will not continue into the future .
© The European Futures Observatory 2013