Aug 27, 2004

Doomsday Equation

The idea that human progress would reach a "singularity" originated in Doomsday: Friday, 13 November, A.D. 2026, Science 132, 1291-1295 (1960) by von Foerster, H, Mora, M. P., and Amiot, L. W. The mathematical singularity appeared in that paper's human population model (Doomsday Equation). Von Foerster argued that human's abilities to construct societies, civilizations and technologies do not result in self inhibition. Rather, societies' success varies directly with population size.

von Foerster found that this model fit some 25 data points from the birth of Christ to 1958 with only 7% of the variance left unexplained. Several follow-up letters were published in Science showing that von Foerster's equation was still on track (for example, see this from '88). The most remarkable thing about von Foerster's model was it predicts that the human population will reach infinity or a mathematical singularity, on Friday the November 13th, 2026. Thus it was a model that was both validated and absurd.

Of course we all know that this is just an theoretical equasion. It can't become true, can it?

And the line goes up
And the line goes up
Everyday a little faster

Towards the Singularity...

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