Date of Graduation

7-2015

Document Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts in English (MA)

Degree Level

Graduate

Department

English

Advisor

M. Keith Booker

Committee Member

Thomas Frentz

Second Committee Member

William Quinn

Keywords

Language, literature and linguistics; Philosophy, religion and theology; Ideology; Science fiction; Singularity

Abstract

The Technological Singularity represents a confluence of techno-cultural narratives of progress in which the projected exponential growth of artificial intelligence and nanotechnology will usher in a moment of irrevocable change for the human race – a change that many claim is scant decades away. Although the concept saw its modern clarification by science fiction author Vernor Vinge, the Singularity sits astride both fictional and nonfictional narratives of the future. It is the aim of this study to explore the ideological discourses that emerge from texts on the Singularity and the unfathomable posthuman future it ushers in. Doing so reveals how the Singularity often functions as a projection of Late Capital, which achieves ominous posthuman agency in the form of the financial derivative. Yet the Singularity also occupies a Marxian space – its teleological metaphor mirrors that of classical Marxism and a historical terminus in Utopia. Ultimately the response of science fiction authors such as Charles Stross, Cory Doctorow, Ken Macloud, and Rudy Rucker, among others, is to treat the Singularity as an elastic metaphor subjected to ideological scrutiny rather than a dogmatic inevitability of exponential historiography. This interpretation frees the Singularity to be explored as a conglomerate of early 21st century hopes and anxieties. Far from being the “genre-killer” of science fiction, the Singularity represents a new, heightened set of concerns and methodologies for engaging the late capitalist/postmodern condition.

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