Here’s a podcast of a 2005 keynote address by Vernor Vinge:
In this keynote address from Accelerating Change 2005, Vernor Vinge discusses the potential for a “technological singularity” – the event at which the creation of artificial superhuman intelligence changes the world so dramatically that it is impossible to imagine the world after that point. He explains that the singularity is not a given, nor is it necessarily a positive event. Many factors could arise that prevent the singularity from occurring and there is a potential for it to be a catastrophic event rather than a positive revolution.
Vinge suspects that if the Singularity arises after several years of progress rather than as an overnight event, it is more likely to be a positive step in human evolution. He calls this the “soft-takeoff,” and offers some ideas that may encourage a longer approach to the point of change. The pace of progress may be exponentially increasing, but that does not preclude a gradual move toward the moment of transition.