Many of you may have heard the name Ray Kurzweil, some may not and for those that haven’t here is the lowdown:
Director of artificial intelligence at Google who has received over 20 honorary doctorates and Honours from 3 US presidents, Author of 7 books (primarily about technology and artificial intelligence) and one of the most scarily intelligent futurists you could ever hope to come across. Ray has been the main person involved in inventing many technologies including the flatbed scanner and the first print to speech reading machine for the blind. His work has drastically improved the fields artificial intelligence, robotics, nanotechnology and biotechnology.
In the 1990’s, amongst many other fascinating predictions for the future Ray predicted that computers would be able to access information wirelessly via the internet, that a computer would beat a world chess champion by 1998 (deep blue beat Gary Kasparov in 1997), the exoskeletal limbs would enable people with missing limbs to walk again, That people would be able to give voice commands to their computer. Now none of this might sound that great but bear in mind some of these predictions were made in 1990. Tim berners-Lee only invented the world wide web in 1990 and it certainly wasn’t wireless, moreover all these predictions have come true.
How does Ray make these predictions? Well, he is obviously very much in the know with regard to developing technologies being central, as he is, to Googles AI team but he also applies a theory called the law of accelerating returns, in itself an extension of Moore’s law (the observation that the number of transistors in an integrated circuit doubles approximately every two years, 2-4-8-16-32-64 and so on) which he then applied to many different technologies. In laymen’s terms, Kurzweil hypothesises that technology increases exponentially (doubling every year and then doubling that double and so on)
And that eventually artificial intelligence will surpass that of biological intelligence. Ray theorises that as human beings our brains are programmed to think linearly an in order for us to predict the future we need to apply this accelerating returns law to our way of thinking.
So lets get onto the good stuff! What are some of Rays fascinating predictions for the future?
By the late 2010’s
10 terrabytes of computing power will cost about $1000
Glasses will beam images directly onto your retina, don’t believe him? see link below: https://www.windowscentral.com/intels-vaunt-smart-glasses-beam-information-directly-your-retina
In the 2020’s
The introduction of nanobots (robots which will be around 0.1 micrometers) will see the vast reduction or complete eradication of diseases. Nanosytems will replace normal human eating
A robot will pass the Turing test (developed by Alan Turing in 1950’s the Turing test is widely considered the ultimate test for a machine to exhibit intelligence indistinguishable from a human)
These Nonobots will begin to gradually extend the lives of human beings until the point that, eventually, we can ‘outrun’ death. Kurzweil has been a massive supporter of the SENS research foundation which is already working on just that.
Now fasten your seatbelt here because its about to start getting wacky here!
By the 2030’s
Ray Predicts that at some point in this decade we will experience truly real virtual reality.
We will be able to upload and download our conscious minds onto computers.
By the 2040’s
Artificial intelligence will be up to a billion times more capable than human intelligence, Nano tech will be able to create virtually any item at a whim.
We will be able to enhance our intelligence by a billion-fold by synthetically linking our neocortex to the cloud
By this time, Ray theorizes that we will be able to download ourselves into a computer and the upload ourselves into completely artificial bodies.
Nano technology will be able to fully recreate any sentient being from even the most microscopic fragments of DNA, theoretically bringing anyone back to life.
Some of this sounds crazy now but when we apply the accelerated returns logic to it perhaps it becomes conceivable.
I hope you have enjoyed my brief blog abut Rays theories and please do go and read some of his books, they are pretty in depth about his reasons for these predictions but there is also plenty on the internet or you could just wait and see!