Embrace the Singularity
The signs were posted everywhere in my old neighborhood. Not just on telephone poles and street corners, but covering windows, plastered throughout stores, and most people even wore clothing sporting stylized versions of the phrase. Leo wondered why there was still so much marketing around this Singularity, whatever it was. Obviously, it had been embraced.
When he decided to disconnect from society twenty years ago, he knew the world would change in ways he couldn’t possibly imagine. Overall, the landscape was recognizable. No flying cars, no clear tubes that whisked people across the city assembly line style.
Apart from this Singularity, the city felt the same.
His first stop was to his old apartment building. He was pretty sure his old friends would have moved on after twenty years, but it was somewhere to start. The facade of the building had drastically changed, and Leo couldn’t find the buzzers or any sign of who lived there.
He stepped back and looked up at the dark windows of the apartments. Leo figured someone had to come in or out in a few minutes, so he’d just wait to see how they did it. He tried to look casual as he waited and not like some kind of creepy stalker, but it was difficult. So many of the mannerisms and personal habits of people had changed. Back when he’d lived in the city, it was common courtesy to avoid eye contact. It was a necessity for a semblance of privacy in a place so crammed with people.
Now, every single person who passed made a point of looking him directly in the eye. Some even slowed their pace to try and hold what Leo considered a disturbing level of eye contact outside of a staring contest.
A few people even muttered as he actively tried to avoid their gaze.
Tucked off to the side of the building, Leo noticed more and more that seemed out of place in this new world. There was an appalling lack of diversity. Not in terms of race or gender, but in age, and well, attractiveness.
Everyone on the sidewalks or through the widows of the passing cars appeared to be in their twenties and beautiful. No children, no older people, no haggard faces clutching a cup of coffee. Just alert, gorgeous, and bright-eyed people all staring at each other.
Just as Leo was losing his nerve, about to run back to his cabin in the woods and finish the next 40 years of his life in isolation, he recognized a familiar face approaching the building.
Leo was about to rush out to Sandra, excited that one of his friends did indeed still live in the building despite the years that had passed, until he noticed she was too familiar. In fact, except for the drab “Embrace the Singularity” clothes she wore, she looked exactly the same as she had twenty years ago.
In a cabin in the middle of nowhere, Leo may have aged worse than the average person around here, but she looked like a living time machine.
Leo stayed to the side and waited as he debated whether he was being paranoid after so many years alone. Maybe he didn’t remember her as well as he thought, or maybe medical treatments had made enormous advances.
Leo had just made the decision that this whole return to society plan had been a bad idea and was going to return to his safe cabin, when Sandra stopped just short of the apartment door and cocked her head.
“Yes, unauthorized organic recognized.” She stood motionless for another moment, her eyes glazed and unfocused. “I understand,” she said and turned to look directly at Leo.
“Leo!” she squealed with the same enthusiasm he’d always remembered. “It’s been forever! We thought you were dead! Come here, come here.” She trotted over to him, her grin overpowering.
“Hi Sandra,” Leo fidgeted uncomfortably, “Yeah, it’s a really long story.”
“Well, I want to hear all of it! You have to come inside!” she wrapped one hand around Leo’s wrist and pulled him towards the door. Her grip was firm, painfully so. Leo tried to grab his hand back reflexively after such a forceful grasp.
“I can’t,” Leo said as he tried and failed to dig in his heels. “I have other plans right now. But I can come back later.”
He tried to peel her fingers off his wrist, but she didn’t even acknowledge the effort. She only continued to pull him towards the entrance of the building.
“Nonsense,” she said without looking back at him. “It will only take a minute. I have some friends I want you to meet.”
Leo put his full strength into resisting her, thrashing and pushing against her death grip. But her hand might as well be made of metal.
Might as well, because it was. Leo began scratching and punching at her hand with no effect. As he tried to wrestle it off, his finger caught on a small latch on the underside of her wrist. Leo snapped it open and inside felt the wires and artificial metallic joints.
Embrace the Singularity.
Leo was almost face to face with a wall of the signs as Sandra reached to open the door to the building.
In the culture of his time, the begin slogan would refer to embracing what made each person unique. In a world with exponential technological growth, a singularity could also mean a change in human society. Something uncontrollable and irreversible.
The double meaning only became apparent to Leo as the door clicked shut behind him.