Advertisements
Advertisements

For most of human history, mankind has hobbled along in its learning curve, doubling our knowledge approximately every 100 years. That is, until the last 100 years. With the industrial and computer revolutions of the 20th and 21st Centuries, this doubling rate began to take a turn, from a linear curve to an exponential one that shoots straight up. Now the doubling of human knowledge occurs every 13 months, according to Industry Tap. Remarkable and astonishing - yes. And to some, also alarming. What exactly will this mean for you and me, and should we be worried?

Ray Kurzweil, Google, and Artificial Intelligence

Many people hear the name Kurzweil and think of piano synthesizers.

Advertisements

Ray Kurzweil is famous for his technological innovations in the music world, but that's the same #Ray Kurzweil that Google hired in 2012 to lead its #Artificial Intelligence team. His work at Google, however, isn't related to the world of music, but rather to "singularity," a concept that refers to the time when man and machine become one.

Here's one definition of singularity: "The term singularity describes the moment when a civilization changes so much that its rules and technologies are incomprehensible to previous generations. Think of it as a point-of-no-return in history." In other words, we can't begin to imagine the technological world of our future. Kurzweil and other singularity believers predict a date of 2029 (or sooner) for this next revolution in technology to occur. "We'll directly connect our cortex [to machines] in the 2030s," says Kurzweil, iO9 Gizmodo reports.

Advertisements

Man and machine combined, replacing our worn out human parts with parts that have a much longer warranty.

Crackpot or genius?

It sounds crazy, like the wild futuristic movie we've all seen. But the fact that Google and some of the brightest minds in Artificial Intelligence buy into the singularity movement should make us all pause. After all, throughout history geniuses have always been thought of as crackpots. Take Galileo, who was called a heretic for suggesting the world was round. Or Nikola Tesla, who was called a "mad scientist." Sometimes when humans don't like what they hear, they want to kill the messenger. Is this another case of a mad scientist predicting a future where the machines are in control? And if so, should we just put our heads in the sand and hope for the best?

And what if it's true that we will soon merge with machines?

The world of technology is changing faster than we can respond, so is there anything we can really do about the future of AI and other technological innovations? The answer is, yes.

Advertisements

For one thing, we can be aware that these changes are happening and work to ensure that the ethics surrounding them are kept in place. Do we want to mess with our genetic makeup and create designer babies, where we can choose our babies' eye and hair color and other traits? What does genetic engineering mean for disease and treatment? And would you like to live forever with robotic replacement parts? It sounds crazy, but these are real questions to contemplate. Singularity might be here sooner than you think, for better or worse, and now is the time to shape policy for it.

"Sticking your head in the sand might make you feel safer, but it's not going to protect you from the coming storm," Barack Obama