Singularitarianism as Religion Entails Testable Predictions

by Eric Steinhart

Singularitarianism is religious. Specifically, it is a kind of millenarian movement. It will therefore develop according to millenarian patterns. Millenarian movements can develop in several ways. The first way is good: the movement turns into a positive mature religion. The second way is bad: the movement turns into a self-destructive cult. The third way is neutral: the movement just fades away. Each of these developmental trajectories has been well-studied and has its own distinctive features.

The thesis that singularitarianism is a religion yields a testable prediction: singularitarianism will develop along one of these paths. The social course of singularitarianism can be studied (and is being studied) using well-established methods in the sociology of religion.

The thesis that singularitarianism is a religion entails that observable variables are correlated with probabilities of future development.

First example: if singularitarians isolate themselves into their own networks (refusing to participate in trust-networks by using conventional methods to establish legitimacy or credibility), then singularitarianism is more likely to be going down the negative path; if singularitarians engage conventional trust-networks, seeking legitimacy through standard channels, then singularitarianism is more likely to be going down the positive path.

Second example: if singularitarianism focuses more on highly charismatic personalities rather than on impersonal research projects, then it is more likely to go down the negative path; otherwise, it is more likely to go down the positive path.

Anyone familiar with the literature on millenarian movements will easily make a large number of other predictions.

My own hope is that singularitarianism develops along the positive path. I think it would be good to have a religion of reason.

Guest Contributor Eric Steinhart is a professor of philosophy at William Paterson University. Many of his papers can be found here .

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