Ray Kurzweil is one of the most exciting thinkers anywhere, and unlike some “futurist advocates” of the past he’s distinguished himself in several fields relevant to those he speaks about. He’s producing a film based on his book “The Singularity is Near” that will take the form of a narrative storyline featuring cyberterror, nanotechnology, and virtual beings and also a documentary with interviews featuring many leading thinkers about the future of technology. See the Singularity website for more.
Ironically the early misguided optimism about AI has led even some early AI pioneers to scoff at the notion we are near the brink of conscious computing. Yet a lot of evidence now suggests we are near reaching the capability of creating consciousness in machines.
First, the IBM Blue Brain project is within about 8 years of a good working model of the brain. They are not claiming to seek “consciousness” with the model – rather they are focusing on brain and disease research – but I see no reason to think they won’t soon attain a conscious computer as the machine approaches the number of connections we have in our own brains.
Second, the computational power of computers is approaching that of a human brain. Kurzweil discusses this at great length in “The Singularity is Near”, noting that exponentially improving processing and memory capacity will soon lead to plenty of power in computers to replicate human thinking patterns.
Third, the explosion in profitability for massively parallel computing power – such as that used by Google and Microsoft – will fuel innovation for many years to come.
The question of “Do you believe in a technological singularity” needs to be replaced with “what are we going to do when the singularity happens?”
Hey, I’ve written a lot more about the Singularity , because I think it’s the biggest thing to hit humanity since….ummmm…. the advent of humanity?