Jeff Prucher jprucher at YAHOO.COM
Sat Feb 20 01:04:55 UTC 2010

Back to the issue at hand, which I think is whether the Vingean sense of "Singularity" is a) in dictionaries and b) in (further) extended use?  AFAIK, it's not in any dictionaries other than Brave New Words and Wiktionary, although I obviously haven't checked everything. (The quickest way to answer this sort of question, by the way, is to just search on, which will get you almost all the major Standard English dictionaries in one form or another, although Oxford is only represented by CODE. OED don't have it, though.)  I haven't seen it in further extended use, but I haven't really been looking, either.

Jeff Prucher

 Editor, Brave New Words: The Oxford Dictionary of Science Fiction. Now in paperback!

----- Original Message ----
> From: Robin Hamilton <robin.hamilton2 at BTINTERNET.COM>
> Sent: Fri, February 19, 2010 5:40:17 AM
> Subject: Singularity
> ---------------------- Information from the mail header -----------------------
> Sender:       American Dialect Society
> Poster:       Robin Hamilton
> Subject:      Singularity
> -------------------------------------------------------------------------------
> Has the term "singularity" condensed sufficiently to be incorporated in
> dictionaries?  The WIKI article on it, when I looked, seemed to reflect my
> own understanding,   [In Summary]:  "Coined by Vernor Vinge, and since
> generated a fair degree of noise."
> I'd be interested also if anyone has come across extended uses beyond the
> original technological/AI event horizon sense as used by Vinge.  It seems to
> me that in some ways the evolution of both google and Wikipedia itself could
> be seen as mini-singularity events, where the Thing in question experiences
> a (technically catastrophic) state-change.
> Further questiion -- is the term "singularity" (and metaphorical uses
> derived from it) particularly useful when applied to computer systems or
> epiphenomena (the Web, Wikis, Twitter, etc.) built on a foundation of
> computer systems,  and has this anything to do with the way in which
> feedback loops (can) operate in a positively catastrophic way in computers,
> and a negatively catastrophic way in the real world?
> Banks grow too big to fail, but Wiki finally succeeds by virtue of its size
> (so to speak)?
> Does the term "singularity" add anything to previous terms such as
> homeostasis, event horizon, discontinuity, tipping point, change of state,
> etc.?
> Robin
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