Futurist Ray Kurzweil had once famously said that timing was important for everything — from investing in the stock market, to romance. Kurzweil, a noted author and director of engineering at Google, applies the same logic to technology and inventions as well.
“Many futurists borrow from the imagination of science-fiction writers, but they don’t have a really good methodology for predicting when things will happen. Early on, I realized that timing is important to everything, from stock investing to romance — you’ve got to be in the right place at the right time. And so I started studying technology trends. If you Google how my predictions have fared, you’ll get a 150-page paper analyzing 147 predictions I made about the year 2009, which I wrote in the late 1990s — 86 percent were correct, 78 percent were exactly to the year,” he says.
Futurist Vs The Prudent:
While noted names such as physicist Stephen Hawking and Tesla and SpaceX’s CEO Elon Musk have already sounded alarm bells with regards to Artificial Intelligence and its potential harm, there are others who don’t think that way.
Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg, Microsoft founder Bill Gates and Kurzweil are some of the many noted names who believe that AI can actually do more good to the humans than harm.
Kurzweil, who currently runs a group at Google writing automatic responses to your emails in cooperation with the Gmail team, had once famously said:
“It was fire that kept us warm, cooked our food, but also burnt our houses down. Technology is always a double-edged sword.”
AI and Ethics:
While speaking to an online publication Kurzweil touched upon the topic of existential crisis with respect to improving technology and the lack of ethics in machines. He said:
“…A classic example is the self-driving car. The whole motive for self-driving cars is they’ll eliminate 99 percent of the 2 million deaths from human drivers, but it will get into a situation where it has to make an ethical decision: Should it drive toward the baby carriage or toward the elderly couple or toward the wall and perhaps kill your passenger. Do you have an ethical guideline to not kill your passenger who might own you… It’s got to be built into the software. So those are practical issues and there’s a whole area of AI ethics growing over this.”
From predicting personal digital assistants (Google Assistant, Siri, Alexa, Cortana) telling us jokes, to robots rights, we have listed out most of Kurzweil’s predictions from his books. In fact, while going through the list, you’ll see that many of them have already come true!
Kurzweil Imagines The Future With AI:
Many of the following predictions were made by Kurzweil in his books between 1999 and 2005. As he points out himself, many of them have already come true.
- Predicts that Artificial Intelligence would outsmart the human brain in computational capabilities by mid-21st century.
- Personal AI assistants are in widespread use. They can understand spoken language, look up answers to questions, set appointments, conduct transactions, tell jokes, and more.
- Artificial Intelligence claims to be conscious and openly petition for recognition of the fact. Most people admit and accept this new truth.
- The technological singularity occurs as artificial intelligences surpass human beings as the smartest and most capable life forms on the Earth. Technological development is taken over by the machines, who can think, act and communicate so quickly that normal humans cannot even comprehend what is going on. The machines enter into a “runaway reaction” of self-improvement cycles, with each new generation of AIs appearing faster and faster. From this point onwards, technological advancement is explosive, under the control of the machines, and thus cannot be accurately predicted (hence the term “Singularity”).
- The anti-technology Luddite movement will grow increasingly vocal and possibly resort to violence as these people become enraged over the emergence of new technologies that threaten traditional attitudes regarding the nature of human life (radical life extension, genetic engineering, cybernetics) and the supremacy of mankind (artificial intelligence).
- A computer passes the Turing Test, becoming the first true artificial intelligence.
- Artificial voices sound fully human.
- The rise of Artificial Intelligence creates a real “robot rights” movement, and there is open, public debate over what sorts of civil rights and legal protections machines should have. The existence of humans with heavy levels of cybernetic augmentation and of larger numbers of other people with less extreme cybernetic implants lead to further arguments over what constitutes a “human being.”