A leading futurologist envisions that the speed at which technological
advancements are taking place may lead computer power to be on a par with the
intelligence of human brains in the next two
decades.


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American computer guru Ray Kurzweil
reckons that there will be 32 times more technical progress during the next half
century than there was in the entire 20th century. One of such outcomes may be
artificial intelligence matching human intellect the 2020s, he
says.


While addressing the
American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) in Boston, he said
that machines would rapidly overtake humans in their intellectual abilities, and
would soon be able to solve some of the most intractable problems of the 21st
century. Kurzweil was one of 18 maverick thinkers who had been chosen to
identify the greatest technological challenges facing
humanity.


He said that machines
would far surpass human intelligence as they learnt how to communicate, teach
and replicate among themselves.


He revealed that his
prediction was based on the calculations that computer chips had been doubling
in power every two years for the past half-century. "The paradigm shift rate is
now doubling every decade, so the next half century will see 32 times more
technical progress than the last half century. Computation, communication,
biological technologies for example, DNA sequencing brain scanning, knowledge of
the human brain, and human knowledge in general are all accelerating at an
ever-faster pace, generally doubling price-performance, capacity and bandwidth
every year," the Independent quoted him as
saying.



Kurzweil pointed out that computers
had been based on two-dimensional chips made from silicon to date, but
scientists had developed techniques to create three-dimensional chips with
vastly improved performances. He said that 3-D chips could also be constructed
from biological molecules, which may enable them to be miniaturised even more
than metal-based computer
chips.


"Three-dimensional,
molecular computing will provide the hardware for human-level ‘strong
artificial intelligence’ by the 2020s. The more important software
insights will be gained in part from the reverse engineering of the human brain,
a process well under way. Already, two dozen regions of the human brain have
been modelled and simulated," he said. Kurzweil further said that computers were
on their way to creating a "post-human" world where a second, intelligent entity
would exist alongside
people.


"Once non-biological
intelligence matches the range and subtlety of human intelligence, it will
necessarily soar past it because of the continuing acceleration of
information-based technologies, as well as the ability of machines to instantly
share their knowledge," he
said.


"We are understanding
disease and ageing processes as information processes, and are gaining the tools
to reprogramme them. RNA interference, for example, allows us to turn selected
genes off, and new forms of gene therapy are enabling us to effectively add new
genes. Within two decades, we will be in a position to stop and reverse the
progression of disease and ageing resulting in dramatic gains in health and
longevity," he added.

Via Times of India