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Are Technology Metals Nearing A State Of Singularity?

The Singularity is a concept popularized by Raymond Kurzweil several years ago, building on an original idea by John von Neumann in 1958. Kurzweil gave the world the flatbed scanner and blind people an advanced text-to-speech device. He is a director of engineering at Google, entrepreneur, futurist and best-selling author of books like “The age of spiritual machines”.

Ray Kurzweil

What is the singularity, and how does it apply to technology metals? In a documentary, Kurzweil explained: “Singularity is a future period in which technological change will be so rapid and its impact so profound that every aspect of human life will be irreversibly transformed”.

It must be added that Kurzweil’s conclusions are hotly debated. And while the implications of where the path will ultimately take us remain unclear, his predictions on technological advances so far have been mostly accurate, suggesting that his “law of accelerating returns” actually applies to what we are experiencing in today’s technological advances. On the premise of exponential development observable in biology and evolution, Kurzweil states that the same is true for technology: “In the last 40 years, we have gone from something that fits in a building to something that fits in your pocket. In the next 25 years, we will go from something that fits in your pocket to something that fits in a blood cell”.

Kurzweil predicts, for example, that within 5 years solar technology will have become cheaper than coal or oil, and that 15 years later solar panels will have been developed to the point where they can power every electric device we use.

Sounds familiar? In past months, Tech Metals Insider has been reporting about advances in many areas of technology involving metals that seemed unthinkable not long ago. Scientists and corporate developers are creating fuel from sunlight using cerium; they are paving roads in solar panels using silver; they make gold stretchable so it can be applied to human skin; they provide a fuel cell patch drawing power from blood sugar to go with it; they transmute radioactive waste into rare earth elements….. the list could go on for quite a while.

Have we reached a tipping point then? I discussed the question with George Smith, programmer and author who recently published a blog on the topic on his website on economic issues and gold markets. “He (Kurzweil) could be wrong, he could be dead wrong”, commented Smith, “but he has done his research so his arguments seem like something to consider… How trees grow on a molecular level could be simulated technologically. They are called nanobots, computers the size of a molecule, but they exist. Kurzweil’s theory is that every molecule could be intelligent. Kurzweil sees us develop right along with computers. People have already become accustomed to carrying technology around with them all the time. Think of smartphones or Google Glass. Mind controlled prosthetic limbs have just been introduced, suggesting the bionic man is not far away.”

Whether or not we find the prospects scary or fascinating, or both, we find ourselves on this path of rapidly accelerating development in which nano-technology, technology metals and other innovative materials play a crucial role. As a consequence, we may not only witness a sharply rising demand for precious metals, rare earth elements and specialty metals, but also novel technologies for recycling and recovery to keep supply in sync with demand.

By Bodo Albrecht



Disclaimer: The views expressed in this article are those of the author and may not reflect those of Kitco Metals Inc. The author has made every effort to ensure accuracy of information provided; however, neither Kitco Metals Inc. nor the author can guarantee such accuracy. This article is strictly for informational purposes only. It is not a solicitation to make any exchange in precious metal products, commodities, securities or other financial instruments. Kitco Metals Inc. and the author of this article do not accept culpability for losses and/ or damages arising from the use of this publication.
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