Singularity

AI. Image by Chad Baker - Getty ImagesImage by Chad Baker – Getty Images

The idea of a technological singularity, usually as the result of emergence of Hard AI, is, along with nanotech, a common theme of a lot of near future hard SF

Transhumanists predict that this event will mark a radical evolutionary watershed in which machines, or machine-human symbiosis, will rapidly surpass humans in intelligence and evolution.  While many ordinary people, inspired by Hollywood movies like Terminator and the Matrix,  are horrified by this prospect, Transhumanists present it in a more sanguine light, see for example the writings of Ray Kurzweil (The Age of Spiritual Machines, The Singularity Is Near)

Interestingly, the theme of accelerating evolution and an emerging near future technological singularity that is so central to Transhumanism and is common in Hard SF and cyberpunk genres is absent from softer scifi such as Space Opera which works on larger time scales and has a rather conservative, even backward, view of technology (hence the nerd joke about the inefficient Star Wars data storage)