Futurist Ray Kurzweil has some outrageous predictions about how humanity will have entirely merged with machines by 2099
According to the outrageous predictions of futurist Ray Kurzweil, humanity will have completely merged with machines by the end of the century. According to Kurzweil’s theories, 2099 will see the human race experiencing a state of “singularity.” Consequently, unsurprisingly, there are many scientists, experts, and fellow futurists who beg to differ with his outlook.
Kurzweil has authored many books about futurism, exploring topics such as artificial intelligence (AI), health, technological singularity, and transhumanism. Even as a child, he dreamed of being an inventor. Indeed, futurist Kurzweil created innovations that radically changed the lives of many, and propelled them into the future. He developed the first document scanner, and the Kurzweil keyboard was the first synthesizer capable of accurately mimicking a piano.
Individuals who are blind can thank Kurzweil for creating a machine that enables them to read books. Stevie Wonder became a lifelong friend of Kurzweil after being the first customer to purchase this technology.
There is much that Kurzweil has successfully predicted. Predictions that he made during the 80s included unthinkable technologies for that time. He told the world that one day there would be widespread internet use, that the internet would become wireless and that we would wear computer technology. Indeed, those things are commonplace in our 2017 world. Kurzweil even predicted the collapse of the Soviet Union, which no one dreamed as possible during that era.
Many other futurists have made predictions about how things will be in the future. Prophets have always come forward since ancient times to warn people of what they predict will come to past in the future. Some of the most famous futurists at the turn of the 20th century were Nikola Tesla and John Elfreth Walkins Jr. In fact, both of them predicted wireless communications technology decades before Kurzweil was born. Tesla also predicted things like self-driving cars.
So what makes Kurzweil’s predictions any more special? Kurzweil bases his predictions on exponential returns or Moore’s law. Moore’s law has been able to accurately predicted the growth of computer technology for many decades now. Kurzweil extrapolates from Moores law what sort of technology could potentially be available with the increase in processing power.
YouTuber Joe Scott gave a pretty clear breakdown of how Kurzweil sees the future of the human race:
By 2019, futurist Kurzweil believes that autonomous cars will be commonplace. Indeed, autonomous car technology is being rapidly expanded all the time. However, is it really in the reach of all humans on earth? Scott gives the example of George Hotz. George Hotz was initially most famous for his work as a hacker and was able to successfully unlock the iPhone from the clutches of Apple. In 2015, he created a DIY self-driving car with components bought at a local computer store.
Kurzweil also believes that in only around a year, AI will reach the level of general purpose (AGI). Currently, the AI we are familiar with is incapable of thinking. It merely learns potential outcomes and responds literally and robotically. Such technology is in our smartphones, for example.
However, skeptics suggest that AGI is nowhere near being ready for consumer use. Computer Science Professor Michael Littman believes that most AGI technology remains in the realm of theory. Nevertheless, Scott described the example of AlphaGo. Google DeepMind developed the AlphaGo technology in order to compete in the complex boardgame called Go.
Unlike the limited strategies available to win Chess, Go players can utilize an infinite amount of strategies. This means that the AI needs to think about what it wants to choose from infinite options, rather than follow a literal or logical process. AlphaGo was created as an artificial neural network, which essentially is AGI.
By 2029, Kurzweil believes that for only $1000, an amount the average consumer can feasibly afford, computers will be manufactured which are more powerful than the human mind. Scott argues the reasonable potentiality of this prediction due to the existence of such computers already, albeit them being obscenely large and expensive, and inaccessible to all but a few people. The example Scott gives is the Tianhe-2 from China.
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