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Immortality Will Arrive via Singularity, Nanotech, or Genetic Engineering - say 800+ Transhumanists
Hank Pellissier   Aug 15, 2012   Ethical Technology  

Three candidates mob the top post, with four other candidates trailing, according to Terasem Survey respondents.

In Question #6 of the Terasem Survey, respondents were asked to “Rank the following methods by which you believe immortality is likely to arrive.” Additional info about the Terasem Survey is provided later in this essay.

Seven possible paths towards Immortality were presented in the poll; respondents were asked to rank each tech candidate with a score from 1-7.

A “Rating Average” score was subsequently tabulated.

The winner? No single category could claim victory, because two candidates were deadlocked in an exact tie, and a third candidate was edged out only by a statistically insignificant margin.

Although The Singularity received - by far - the most first place votes, with 193 out of 807 voters ranking it in the top-most “7” position, it also received far more placements in the lowest possible ranking (“1”) than its two primary competitors, with 123 respondents casting ballots positioning The Singularity as the least likely contributor to immortality.

Genetic Engineering received the second-most first place votes, with 113. It also received 67 votes in the lowest number. Trailing far behind in first-place votes was Nanotechnology with 93, but it was dismissed as the weakest longevity tech by only 51 respondents.

Final Rankings?

The Singularity - Rating Average 4.37

Nanotechnology - Rating Average 4.37

Genetic Engineering - Rating Average 4.35

four other contestants trailed by at least .5 points, they were

Virtual Existence - Rating Average 3.84

Mindfiling in Cyborg - Rating Average 3.65

SENS - Rating Average 3.52

Stem Cells - Rating Average 3.35


A related question in the Terasem Survey was #17—When do you think the Singularity will arrive?

Here again, a wide-range of opinions was expressed. More than 30% of respondents claimed it’s arrival would either be “imperceptibly slow” (20.9%) or, even more pessimistically, “it won’t [happen at all]” (10.3%)

Additionally, 9.4% voted for the Singularity arriving in 2100, 8.3% voted for a 2085 arrival date, and 17.7% thought a 2065 Singularity was the most likely.

By a wide margin, the Kurzweil prediction of 2045 was favored by the most respondents, 28.9%.

Readers who are more optimistic than that are “probably” in the small minority - only 4.4% thought The Singularity would arrive by 2025.

The reason I say “probably” is because my survey did not posit a date between 2025-2045, or a date earlier than 2025. Partly because of that, there was a very large number (134) of respondents who voted for an option titled “Other.” Many of the “Others” - perhaps 10-15 - left comments stating their belief that The Singularity would arrive between 2030-2040, with a smaller number claiming that it would transform our lives before 2025.


Are the statistics above surprising, and significant?  To me, they certainly were.

Many projects currently in operation are counting on public enthusiasm, i.e., financial support, to meet their goals. Russia 2045 - for example - is a relatively new enterprise, that aims for immortality via “Mindfiling in Cyborg” - a method that placed 5th out of 7. Will Russia 2045’s exciting promotional video elevate the probability of this option in the near future, or have observers already dismissed it as a comparative longshot? 

“Mindfiling in Cyborg” - in another part of the survey - Ranks #1 as the “most preferred method” of attaining immortality. Apparently, tech progress in this direction has not caught up with transhumanist desire for it.

Similarly, if we examine the rating for SENS - the Aubrey de Grey organization which has been around for considerably longer - what does it’s #6 ranking imply? Do the majority of observers regard it not as a main catalyst in the quest for immortality, but as a lesser contributer? Is this - perhaps - because it’s strategy is less comprehensible to the average viewer than the miraculous promises of nanotech, and the epochal-ending Singularity?

Aubrey de Grey (again, in another part of the survey) received more favorable comments as the “Most Admired Transhumanists”  than anyone else. Respect for his vision and efforts is extraordinarily high, but confidence in SENS lacks the same #1 status.

Perhaps the biggest surprise, and thrill, for me, was the very high ranking of Genetic Engineering. I need to catch up on the news in this highly promising field.


Additional Information on the Terasem Survey

The Terasem Survey was conducted via a surveymonkey poll that was set up by my project collaborator, Teresa Dal Santo Ph.D., a Research Associate at University of California San Francisco, with expertise in conducting qualitative and quantitative studies, and specialties in research methods and statistical analysis.

Getting transhumanists to complete our poll was easy; we garnered a total of 818 respondents very quickly. My thanks to everyone who assisted us, especially:

David Orban, who notified his 2,798 Facebook friends, his 3,480 Twitter followers, and his 5,732 Google+ people-in-whose-circle-he-is
Alex Lightman who notified his 5,000 Facebook friends and his 3,500 subscribers
Rachel Marone, editor of, who made our survey the feature article on July 12.

IEET also permitted me to post an announcement.

Amara Angelica declined to post a link to the survey at, where she is Editor, due to various reasons, such as concern about privacy issues and the methodology of the survey.

The completed survey left me with 500 pages of raw data. I will be delivering all of this info to the funder, Terasem Movement Inc., plus I’m preparing a summary for one of the Terasem Journals online. Additionally, I will be publishing statistics and comments from the survey in multiple short sections, at IEET and the World Future Society website.


Final Note: Thanks once again to Terasem Movement Inc. for their generous support of this project.

2nd Final Note If readers are interested in participating in the radical life extension / immortalism movement, I encourage you to check out the recently-formed international Longevity Party.

3rd Final Note I have listed below all of the 134 comments regarding Terasem Survey Question #17, “when will The Singularity arrive?” I suggest reading them…


There are too many factors to consider.

Though I hope for sooner.

I don’t really have any confidence in predicting the possibility of any form of intelligence explosion.

Unprepared to guess.

I doubt it will take more than 10 years.

I don’t know.

I can’t really speculate, but closer to the end of the 21st century would be my guess, if not some time in the 22nd.

It will be more like progressing slowly beyond a point that is not predictable from today’s point of view.

Predictions of this tend to be far more confident than I think is warranted.

More likely the middle or end of next century

conventional (technological) singularity: impossible to know. physio-cultural harmonic ‘singularity’: don’t miss the boat.

it will happen I just don’t know when

Ray misjudged the delays that will be caused by political, religious, and industrial organizations.

as soon as we get clean, abundant and reliable source of energy

Personally i believe it will happen in surges over the next 100 years, with no 1 date or year or decade to be the time when it happens. The world does not advance at the same pace in all places. Class, society and politics will differ, and they will impact its advancement on humanity.

I don’t know, but I hope I live to see it.


I don’t think we can “know” exactly as it will be an evolving process


It’s hard to predict. 2025 seems to close, and 2045 a bit too far. The shape of the singularity involves machine assistance, but perhaps not AGI.



Not sure.

When the singularity started will be a matter discussed by historians 1000 years from now.

If humanity will not destroy itself - about 2100 - 2200.

Next tuesday at 5:51pm if the strawberry thing works out

impossible to predict


Impossible to predict by definition

A fallacy to think it will happen at a certain time or moment. Progress will be made in steps, and suddenly we’ll realize “the Singularity” has happened/is happening

The SIngularity is a meme that may be artificial and meaningless to the people of the future.

Singularity will be different from our current vision of it

If by Singularity you mean true AI, who knows, who cares. If you mean leaps in tech happening in years instead of generations, we’re already there.

Imperceptibly slow is actually quite fast these days; this generation is used to a fairly breakneck pace.

I am fairly certain it will happen within the next couple centuries, but I cannot be certain, and many unforseen delays may arise.

2300 - 2500-ish.



Mid 2030’s assuming we can get either quantum computers working well or another replacement for silicon. Otherwise it will be much later, probably 2060 or even slower then that.

After 2100 but before 2500, at least applied to a limited number of people

Predicting the onset of the Singularity without more adequate definition isn’t really feasible.

I am not sure that I believe in a capitalized notion of Singularity. I just think that technology and insights into our existence are unfolding at a predictably more rapid speed.

could have already happen

Unless we kill ourselves…, think fukushima or ww3 or mass-knowledge of DIY doom-day devices.


Imperceptibly slow meaning way past the year 2100.

Not nearly as soon as Kurzweil thinks.

I don’t know.

With appropriate funding

I don’t know

multiple singularities, soft take-off, probably with Chinese characteristics

People won’t want it to

A number of important and complicated unquantified variables drastically alter the eventual outcome

I dont know

I dont know. I dont believe in an event but i do believe in a persisting acceleration which will see us through to immortality, AGI, all the good stuff.

Some time after recovery from crash.

Ray Kurzweil’s definition and his basic timeline seem as useful as any I’ve come across, so I’m going with ca. 2045 as the point where things are moving so fast we can’t (in our current, 2012, state) comprehend what comes afterwards.


Don’t care to guess.

It strikes me as either an incoherent concept or an article of faith (or both!)


It might not


I disagree with the concept. I agreee with much of the content, strongly disagree with the term ‘arrive’ gives many the notion that this tech advance is an non-human endeavour and a preordained inevitability

This is dependant on how soon after atomic perfection of computing and robotics, a sub-atomic method of computing and robotics is created.

we don’t know

It has.

Unless the Jiggly Puff Administration gets defeated by the Pichu Administration which should be around December of 2012 if not sooner.

I don’t feel like the intelligences that develop will be all that much more powerful than humanity.




We could have it by 2025. But I think we will either not get it for a very long time if ever (great decline) or have it at least by 2045. And I mean advent of > human AGI

If the singularity is somewhere in space-time, it must be at the absolute endpoint of the space-time continuum if such a thing even exists

The term “Singularity” as applied to technological development is laden with too much semantic baggage these days. But lets define it as an intelligence explosion for the sake of making a choice: 2050 give or take a decade.

N/A. Different tech sees different curves. Self-improving computation? Early. A good control over biology? Late.

At any time.

the Singularity is ill-defined

Not comfortable taking a guess on it, because that’s all it would be.

I theorize it happening at a time when we experience/measure time differently enough in a psychochromatic way due to technological advances, that the answers if any given here are irrelevant.


I believe in no such thing. Wishful thinking, I say.

2200 maybe

I think it’s gonna be later than that

i’d like to say 2045, but i don’t think we will get this done. 😊

impossible to define




I don’t know

No clue, actually

Between 2045 and 2065

10% confidence

Not on recognizable human timescales.

Only when an agreed upon definition of “singularity” exists will this question be able to be answered.

have a look on this paper 1. Panov, A.D. Scaling law of the biological evolution and the hypothesis of the self-consistent Galaxy origin of life. Advances in Space Research 36, 220-225 (2005).

i am one

Wasn’t the Internet it?

We only will know when looking at history. For someone in the middle ages, we live in a singularity.

I don’t worry about it

I don’t buy into the Singularity idea.



It’s a sci-fi fantasy based on a serious misunderstanding of the man-machine relationship and the nature of human self-consciousness. By 2100 maybe we will have eliminated most human manual labor that is not so mechanical as to be done by an AI. Intellectual work by biohosts will displace it. The machines will eventually do most things, but not direct human social evolution.

IN many ways it has already arrived. We live in a time when no one understand what is going on, a few think they know a little more than others, but overall we have reached a point where the complexity and speed make us unaware of where we are heading.

later than expected, but it will.


The singularity is a process, just like evolution, revolution, pivoting etc. As technology and enhancements increase will we notice it is happening when we are in the middle of it - will our perceptive ability and speed increase or decrease at what rate in comparison to the singularity

though i’m inclined to think it may already be here now

unpredictable—does not make sense to speculate. a singularity is highly likely within anything from decades to centuries, but due to its nature and uniqueness unforeseeable (very much unlike general future technology)

Maybe you won’t notice because you won’t be told.


We aren’t certain, we might be in a singularity right now.

I don’t care to speculate. (Technological) progress accelerated at maximum feasibility is valueable by definition. (where “maximum feasibility” necessarily implies an immediate personal responsibility).

Likely within 100 years.

When an AGI will be made.


It already happened. What makes you think it is in the future?

These are two questions, when CAN it arrive, and when WILL it arrive. There shouldn’t be any technical obstacles after 2018, but then it becomes a political issue…

I am not sure. I think there could be some advances that hasten progress but I can’t predict that. It most likely will be incremental but accelerating faster then other centuries

Trying to predict that is akin to prophecy. The harder we work, the sooner it will get here, let’s leave it at that.

2035 +/- 10

it can be approached asymptotically but while people talk about reaching it, it’ll never “arrive”

I’m really not sure. I keep getting the sense that 2045 is too optimistic, especially considering that government and corporate structures seem to be merging into a malevolent mafia that will likely promote regression and slowdown.

if it ever did, it wouldn’t bother giving away evidence of its existence to humans

Humans will evolve organically beyond machines.

The Singularity is a horizon. As we get near the horizon we see today, at that time the horizon will be yet further away. It’s like Xeno’s Paradox: approach, yes, but never actually pass.

It’ll arrive in pieces and stages with advances and retrogressions.


We won’t see it coming, and we may not be able to recognise it when it arrives.

On Kurzweil’s scale - around 2030, give or take

The Technological Singularity should always be ahead of us.

Maybe as soon as the 2020s, probably a staggered technological escalation with many black swan strides forward. No full-blown spike - too much chaos in the system.


Hank Pellissier serves as IEET Managing Director and is an IEET Affiliate Scholar.


One of your comments makes an interesting point - is “the singularity” a moving goalpost?  How long ago would 2012’s society of smartphone-enabled revolutions (others have made the case that the ideal of the smartphone has mostly replaced the ideal of the cyborg during this decade, otherwise this would be a *far* more entertaining post) be incomprehensible?

Any chance you can break down the Singularity date against age, and see whether the so-called Maes-Garreau Law works in this dataset? For example, is there a bump in one’s 70s? (do 20 year olds predict a singularity in 50 years while 30 year olds prefer 40 years, etc.)

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