The news has been turning into science fiction for a while now. TVs that watch the watcher, growing tiny kidneys, 3D printing, the car of tomorrow, Amazon's fleet of delivery drones – so many news stories now "sound like science fiction" that the term returns 1,290,000 search results on Google.

The pace of technological innovation is accelerating so quickly that it's possible to perform this test in reverse. Google an imaginary idea from science fiction and you'll almost certainly find scientists researching the possibility. Warp drive? The Multiverse? A space elevator to the stars? Maybe I can formulate this as Walter's law – "Any idea described in sci-fi will on a long enough timescale be made real by science."

The most radical prediction of science fiction is the technological singularity. As author and mathematician Vernor Vinge put it in his 1993 essay The Coming Technological Singularity, "Within 30 years, we will have the technological means to create superhuman intelligence. Shortly after, the human era will be ended." Blimey. Sounds a bit serious.

Imagine a graph charting the growth in modern computing power. Place the mechanical calculator at one end and the Cray XE6 supercomputer, capable of analysing 240 full human genomes in 50 hours, at the other. Moore's law – that computing power doubles every 18 months – means that the curve of the graph grows exponentially steeper until it "spikes" upward.

That spike is the singularity. And for decades now, science fiction authors and assorted types of futurist have been trying to predict what a post-singularity world would look like. Ray Kurzweil has been preaching future utopia for decades and in The Singularity Is Near (2005) made concrete predications about the arrival of machine intelligence, predictions he adapted in his recent interview with the Guardian to claim that machines would outsmart men by 2029.

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