Reader Katie passed on this article in which this over-used theme, sans the apocalyptic hostility between robots and human, has turned into a mathematical and technological spirituality. Premised upon the exponential rate of the acceleration of technological advancement, some day a singularity will arrive, upon which nifty things, like immortality (via the downloading of our memories into robots), will be possible. Money quote:
[Inventor and Singularity Prophet Ray Kurzweil] is attempting to travel across a frontier in time, to pass through the border between our era and a future so different as to be unrecognizable. He calls this border the singularity. Kurzweil is 60, but he intends to be no more than 40 when the singularity arrives.I have nothing to offer. I tuned out at the part where the guy was 60 going on 40. Okay, I didn't for the sake of this post, but you should have.
Kurzweil's notion of a singularity is taken from cosmology, in which it signifies a border in spacetime beyond which normal rules of measurement do not apply (the edge of a black hole, for example). The word was first used to describe a crucial moment in the evolution of humanity by the great mathematician John von Neumann. One day... von Neumann began discussing the ever-accelerating pace of technological change, which, he said, "gives the appearance of approaching some essential singularity in the history of the race beyond which human affairs as we know them could not continue."
He argues that while artificial intelligence will render biological humans obsolete, it will not make human consciousness irrelevant. The first AIs will be created, he says, as add-ons to human intelligence, modeled on our actual brains and used to extend our human reach. AIs will help us see and hear better. They will give us better memories and help us fight disease. Eventually, AIs will allow us to conquer death itself. The singularity won't destroy us, Kurzweil says. Instead, it will immortalize us.