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Many of you are familiar with design patterns, an approach to software engineering that focusses on abstraction and simplification in order to promote reusable code.

When you look at the AI singularity as a narrative, and identify the numerous places in the story where the phrase "...

The same can be said of my field of work, written science fiction.

Scifi is seldom about science—and even more rarely about predicting the future.

Or rather, I write science fiction, much of it about our near future, which has in recent years become ridiculously hard to predict.

Our species, Homo Sapiens Sapiens, is roughly three hundred thousand years old.

(Recent discoveries pushed back the date of our earliest remains that far, we may be even older.) For all but the last three centuries of that span, predicting the future was easy: natural disasters aside, everyday life in fifty years time would resemble everyday life fifty years ago.

Let that sink in for a moment: for 99.9% of human existence, the future was static.

It's not like I'm predicting that airliners will fly slower and Nazis will take over the United States, is it?

As my fellow SF author Ken Mac Leod likes to say, the secret weapon of science fiction is history.

History, loosely speaking, is the written record of what and how people did things in past times—times that have slipped out of our personal memories.

Then happened, and the future began to change, increasingly rapidly, until we get to the present day when things are moving so fast that it's barely possible to anticipate trends from month to month.

As an eminent computer scientist once remarked, computer science is no more about computers than astronomy is about building telescopes.

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