Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Web Secret #206: The Age of Spiritual Machines

Raymond Kurzweil is a well known futurist who has been lauded for his uncanny ability to predict the future of artificial intelligence and the human race. In 1999, Ray published his second book of predictions, "The Age of Spiritual Machines."

Here are some of them:

2019 (only 7 years from now)
  • A $1,000 personal computer has as much raw power as the human brain.
  • Computers are embedded everywhere in the environment (inside of furniture, jewelry, walls, clothing, etc.).
  • People experience 3-D virtual reality through glasses and contact lenses that beam images directly to their retinas (retinal display). Guess What? Google is already working on that! Check out "Project Glass":

  • People communicate with their computers via two-way speech and gestures instead of with keyboards.
  • Cables connecting computers and peripherals have almost completely disappeared. Almost there right now!
  • Computers have made paper books and documents almost completely obsolete. Kindle anyone?
  • Household robots are ubiquitous and reliable. Where is my Roomba?
  • Humans are beginning to have deep relationships with automated personalities. The depth of some computer personalities convinces some people that they should be accorded more rights.
2029 (only 17 years from now)
  • A $1,000 personal computer is 1,000 times more powerful than the human brain.
  • Computers are now capable of learning and creating new knowledge entirely on their own and with no human help. Some computers "know" literally every scientific discovery, book and movie, every public statement, etc. generated by human beings.
  • The rise of Artificial Intelligence creates a real "robot rights" movement, and there is 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 implants lead to further arguments over what constitutes a "human being." Ever see "AI"?
  • Machines have attained equal legal status with humans.
I stopped reading after that - I was getting too freaked out.


In 1974, Arthur C. Clarke predicted the Internet and the personal computer.

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