Ray Kurzweil has a pretty good track record when it comes to predicting where tech is going. In the past he predicted a computer would defeat a chess champion, that computers would be online wirelessly, and voice commands to computers, among many others.
Here are a few he has for the next 25 years:
By the late 2010s, glasses will beam images directly onto the retina. Ten terabytes of computing power (roughly the same as the human brain) will cost about $1,000.
By the 2020s, most diseases will go away as nanobots become smarter than current medical technology. Normal human eating can be replaced by nanosystems. The Turing test begins to be passable. Self-driving cars begin to take over the roads, and people won’t be allowed to drive on highways.
By the 2030s, virtual reality will begin to feel 100% real. We will be able to upload our mind/consciousness by the end of the decade.
By the 2040s, non-biological intelligence will be a billion times more capable than biological intelligence (a.k.a. us). Nanotech foglets will be able to make food out of thin air and create any object in physical world at a whim.
By 2045, we will multiply our intelligence a billionfold by linking wirelessly from our neocortex to a synthetic neocortex in the cloud.
Still no word on those hoverboards though. Damn.
12 thoughts on “Ray Kurzweil’s Predictions for the Next 25 Years”
Even me, as a futurist and a far-sighted philosopher, have a hard time visualizing and comprehending, but I do believe it (and not irrationally so, as I am very reality oriented, especially given my background):
Kurzweil suggests that the progress of the entire 20th century would have been achieved in only 20 years at the rate of advancement in the year 2000—in other words, by 2000, the rate of progress was five times faster than the average rate of progress during the 20th century. He believes another 20th century’s worth of progress happened between 2000 and 2014 and that another 20th century’s worth of progress will happen by 2021, in only seven years. A couple decades later, he believes a 20th century’s worth of progress will happen multiple times in the same year, and even later, in less than one month. All in all, because of the Law of Accelerating Returns, Kurzweil believes that the 21st century will achieve 1,000 times the progress of the 20th century. (Kurzweil, “The Singularity is Near,” page 39)
I think the point is that computers and tech will become more integrated into us and become extensions of us. It’s not a ‘them’ vs. ‘us’ scenario. We are controlling and advancing our the bio-tech evolution of our own species.
Russel, if we, a species of life evolved from self organising and self replicating structures of amino acids and proteins, can think and reason about whether other things which aren’t us, are conscious, then it stands to be just as reasonable that we could eventually understand what consciousness is, how it works and how to create it artificially. I’d like to know where you’re drawing your information and evidence from, in your claims about consciousness and sentience. Replace our hunger for food with an anticipation about a diminishing supply of reserve power, the knowledge that if one doesn’t find a power source soon, one will be forced to slow down and stop. That is akin to our thirst or hunger. Machines need airflow for some of the same reasons we breathe, such as maintaining an acceptable average temperature through the use of our sinuses to cool our skulls, much in the same way we use fans and heat sinks to cool CPUs and memory. If an android is getting a bit warm, would it not breathe more heavily to promote airflow, in the same or similar ways to us? A living machine might be very different to us, in the same way that an octopus breathes oxygen from water (a feat which would have us drown), but an octopus can still reproduce, perform complex reasoning skills such as opening a screw top jar and still gets hungry when it hasn’t eaten. Biology vs Technology is a pointless debate as we understand that all biology is built from little organic carbon based machines anyway, and we also know that they can be reprogrammed. We’ll intelligently improve upon nature’s existing design when we create true AI.
Just because something is different or not well-understood, doesn’t detract from its potential.
How can a 1K computer have the computing abilities of a human brain in a few years? Seriously. When I look at the CPU’s in our desktop systems, they don’t advance much anymore. Sure we get more transistors, CPU’s consume less power, we get iGPU’s build into them that no one uses on the desktop etc. But the last 4 years or so each new generation of CPU has increased maybe 5% in computing speed, and the last iteration, Broadwell, is actually a bit slower than the CPU gen before (Haswell). Furthermore there are only like 2 node shrinks left before we hit a wall, and have to find something new. I’m guessing he makes the bet that the iGPU will be used very soon for other tasks like Deep Learning. Plus we will need to develop new AI SW FAST.
Uploading our mind/consciousness by the end of the decade is complete BS. Even if we have the computing power, we still don’t really know how the brain works. Even worse: how the hell are you going to take a snapshot of what’s in the brain so you can copy it?
“Terabyte” is not a measure of computing power. TeraFLOPS is.
Perhaps the new cocaine will be neurological brain enhancements. Some HUMAN individuals will survive. THEY will be part of the singularity. Don’t worry. The human race will still be in the thick of it.
When will refrigerators beable to read the barcodes on the food inside and notify (order) replacements from the local market?
The question if machines can feel the same way we feel when we breathe is not that relevant. We are not going to feel the exhilaration of a machine instantly merging their knowledge with another machine they love. We do not have to answer the question if machines become more intelligent than humans in an abstract way. What is relevant, I think, from our point of view, is that machines, conscious or not, will be able to do whatever 90% of humans can do better than them and, as a consequence, 90% of humans would not be able to contribute to society one bit and will be permanently un-employed, with the social implications that follow.
You’re wrong Russel. They can be programmed to get hungry and feel joy, to desire company, laugh and cry. None of that is outside the realm of possibility. Your brain is a computer. A synthetic brain will be just as capable and indistinguishable given enough advancement.
I think humankind may be on the way to being eliminated by superintelligent computers.
Will machines ever become intelligent?
Well yes, but you are asking the wrong
question: Will they ever become conscious?
Well not like us, because they never get
hungry. They never have an empty feeling
that satisfied, brings joy. Like breathing.
Water when you are thirsty. The desire
It’s the tide’s absence and filling that makes
us wonder, makes us laugh and cry, presumes
there is an order behind it all, making it
Naw, machines aren’t gonna get that.
“By simply extrapolating Moore’s Law into the future, previously Kurzweil predicted that by 2023, a $1,000 computer will have the power of the human brain and by 2037 a $0.01 computer will too. By 2049 (still possible in my lifetime), a $1,000 computer will exceed the power of the human RACE, and ten years later a $0.01 computer will. Way before then we’ll see improvements in the brain-computer interface, so changes in healthcare beyond 10-20 years get much harder to imagine.” (From http://www.mhealthtalk.com/moores-law-and-the-future-of-healthcare/)
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