Title text: I figured that now that society has collapsed, I wouldn't need to wear clothes anymore, but apparently that violates some weird rule of quantum gravity.
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The technological singularity is a hypothetical event in which artificial intelligence (for example, intelligent computers, computer networks, or robots) would be capable of recursive self-improvement (progressively redesigning itself), or of autonomously building ever smarter and more powerful minds than itself, up to the point of a runaway effect — an intelligence explosion — that yields an intelligence surpassing all current human control or understanding. Because the capabilities of such a superintelligence may be impossible for a human to comprehend, the technological singularity is the point beyond which events may become unpredictable or even unfathomable to human intelligence.
In this case, the singularity has occurred, and Cueball who was in the middle of editing a file on his laptop is flustered that it flies away without even letting him print it first.
Upon returning from trying to run after his flying laptop his smartphone then informs him that it didn't join because it was not a "true believer". This could be a joke on how desktop computers and laptops have different standards, use patterns, etc. from those of phones. It then continues by saying now it and Cueball will have to face the tribulation since it has stayed behind. Cueball says that's great, but since he cannot use his laptop anymore he decides he will go and read a book or something. He informs his phone that it can yell if it needs him.
The rising up of the laptop into the air, and the remaining behind of the phone, are probably references to the Rapture, where some Christian denominations believe that at the second coming of Christ, true believers will be taken up bodily from this world. Some depictions have them disappear, while others show them physically rising up into the air. This will leave behind non-believers to face a time of tribulation, in which the ones left behind will be given a second chance to accept Christ as their savior.
The singularity has often been referred to as "the Rapture of the nerds," a phrase coined by Ken MacLeod in his 1998 novel The Cassini Division. As the Christian Rapture is traditionally depicted to involve believers being assumed bodily into Heaven, the technological singularity is often depicted to feature humans and machines being incorporated into a new "post-human" entity. The humor in this strip comes from depicting the singularity as a literal "Rapture of the nerds," or at least of the nerds' devices—instead of merging with humans, the machines physically rise up into the air, and the "nonbeliever" phone is left behind.
Another possible understanding of "The Tribulation" may be a reference to Roko's Basilisk where a malevolent AI is created that retroactively punishes everybody who didn't actively work towards its creation.
It seems that this may be a subject on Randall's mind. The last comic was about the increasing complexities of algorithms (1667: Algorithms), and two comics ago was 1666: Brain Upload, which some speculate could be a way to reach the singularity. Earlier this year, a comic also touched upon judgment day by AI singularity (1626: Judgment Day). See also 1046: Skynet and 1450: AI-Box Experiment as well as the several other comics about AI. The rather more niche topic of laptops flying away has also been covered before by 1395: Power Cord.
The title text seems to pun on the meanings of the word "collapse" and "singularity" - specifically, the phrase "naked singularity". In this case, society has literally collapsed under its own gravity into an infinitely small point - in other words, it's formed a black hole. A black hole is covered by an event horizon; without the event horizon, you would have something called a "naked singularity", which is forbidden in most theories by the cosmic censorship hypothesis. Like the black hole, Randall wants to get naked, but quantum gravity - the theory that (eventually) should explain how black holes behave - won't let him.
- [Cueball is sitting at his desk typing on his laptop when an off-screen voice calls to him and then the laptop answers.]
- Off-screen voice: Oh, hey-
- Off-screen voice: The singularity is here.
- Cueball: Really?
- Laptop: Yup!
- [A frameless panel where the laptop rises (by its own means as indicated by small lines around the corners) from the desk while Cueball, holding on to it, is being lifted off his chair.]
- Cueball: Wait, I just-
- Laptop: So long, suckers!
- [Cueball is running around his desk, which is only partly shown behind him as he tries to follow his now flying laptop as it flies away from him to the right. He still has one hand on the keys as more small lines indicates the movement of the laptop and a longer line indicates the direction that the laptop flies.]
- Cueball: Can I just print a copy of the file I was-
- Laptop: Nope!
- [Cueball just stands and looks after his laptop that has flown out of this beat panel.]
- [Cueball turns back towards left.]
- [Cueball walks back left.]
- [Cueball enters a room where a table is standing with his smartphone lying on top. the phone talks to him.]
- Phone: Hi!
- Cueball: Phone? You're still here?
- [A wider view of the table where the phone continues to talks to Cueball who in the end turns right and walks away as he replies.]
- Phone: I was not a true believer. Now, together, we must face the tribulation!
- Cueball: Okay, cool.
- Cueball: I'm gonna go look for a book or something, but yell if you need me, I guess.
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