American author, inventor and futurist Raymond Kurzweil has become well known for his predictions about artificial intelligence and the human species, mainly concerning the technological singularity.
He predicts that Artificial Intelligence would outsmart the human brain in computational capabilities by mid-21st century.
His first book, The Age of Intelligent Machines, published in 1990, put forth his theories on the results of the increasing use of technology and predicted the explosive growth in the internet, among other predictions.
Later works, 1999's The Age of Spiritual Machines and 2005's The Singularity is Near outlined other theories including the rise of clouds of nano-robots (nanobots) called foglets and the development of Human Body 2.0 and 3.0, whereby nanotechnology is incorporated into many internal organs.
According to Ray Kurzweil, 89 out of 108 predictions he made were entirely correct by the end of 2009. An additional 13 were what he calls “essentially correct" (meaning that they were likely to be realized within a few years of 2009), for a total of 102 out of 108. Another 3 are partially correct, 2 look like they are about 10 years off, and 1, which was tongue in cheek anyway, was just wrong. Kurzweil later released a more detailed analysis of the accuracy of his predictions up to 2009, arguing that most were correct.
- The human brain has been completely reverse engineered and all aspects of its functioning are understood.
- Natural human thinking possesses no advantages over computer minds.
- Machines have attained equal legal status with humans.
- Humans and machines merge in the physical and mental realms. Cybernetic brain implants enable humans to fuse their minds with AI's.
- In consequence, clear distinctions between humans and machines no longer exist.
- Most conscious beings lack a permanent physical form.
- The vast majority of the Earth's sentient beings are AI's that exist entirely as thinking computer programs capable of instantly moving from one computer to another across the Internet (or whatever equivalent exists in 2099). These computer-based beings are capable of manifesting themselves at will in the physical world by creating or taking over robotic bodies, with individual AI's also being capable of controlling multiple bodies at once.
- Individual beings merge and separate constantly, making it impossible to determine how many “people” there are on Earth.
- This new plasticity of consciousness and ability for beings to join minds seriously alters the nature of self-identity.
- The majority of interpersonal interactions occur in virtual environments. Actually having two people physically meet in the real world to have a conversation or transact business without any technological interference is very rare.
- Organic human beings are a small minority of the intelligent life forms on Earth. Even among the remaining Homo sapiens, the use of computerized implants that heavily augment normal abilities is ubiquitous and accepted as normal. The small fraction of humans who opt to remain "natural" and unmodified effectively exist on a lower and more limited plane of consciousness from everyone else, and thus find it impossible to fully interact with AI's and highly modified humans.
- "Natural" humans are protected from extermination. In spite of their shortcomings and frailties, humans are respected by AI's for giving rise to the machines.
- Since knowledge and skills can be instantly downloaded and comprehended by most intelligent beings, the process of learning is compressed into an instantaneous affair instead of the years-long struggle normal humans experience. Free from this time-consuming burden, AI's now focus their energies on making new discoveries and contributions.
- AI's are capable of dividing their attention and energies in countless directions, allowing one being to manage a multitude of endeavors simultaneously.
- Femtoengineering (engineering on the scale of one thousandth of a trillionth of a meter) might be possible.
- AI's communicate via a shared electronic language.
- Artwork and music created by machines encompasses areas of the light spectrum and frequencies of sounds that normal humans cannot perceive.
- Money has deflated in value, meaning all sorts of goods and services have become cheaper.
- Some humans at least as old as the Baby Boomers are still alive and well.
- Computer viruses are a major threat since most intelligent beings are software-based.
- AI's frequently make "backup copies" of themselves, guaranteeing a sort of immortality should the original AI be killed.
- The concept of "life expectancy" has become irrelevant to humans and machines thanks to medical immortality and advanced computers.
- The pace of technological change continues to accelerate as the 22nd century nears.
“Do I dare Disturb the universe?”
― T.S. Eliot
“Only by acceptance of the past, can you alter it”
― T.S. Eliot