Toggle light / dark theme

As artificial intelligence systems take on more tasks and solve more problems, it’s hard to say which is rising faster: our interest in them or our fear of them. Futurist Ray Kurzweil famously predicted that “By 2029, computers will have emotional intelligence and be convincing as people.”

We don’t know how accurate this prediction will turn out to be. Even if it takes more than 10 years, though, is it really possible for machines to become conscious? If the machines Kurzweil describes say they’re conscious, does that mean they actually are?

Perhaps a more relevant question at this juncture is: what is consciousness, and how do we replicate it if we don’t understand it?

The Future of Intelligence, Artificial and Natural


Ray Kurzweil is one of the world’s leading inventors, thinkers, and futurists, with a thirty-year track record of accurate predictions. Called “the restless genius” by The Wall Street Journal and “the ultimate thinking machine” by Forbes magazine, he was selected as one of the top entrepreneurs by Inc. magazine, which described him as the “rightful heir to Thomas Edison.” PBS selected him as one of the “sixteen revolutionaries who made America.”

Ray was the principal inventor of the first CCD flat-bed scanner, the first omni-font optical character recognition, the first print-to-speech reading machine for the blind, the first text-to-speech synthesizer, the first music synthesizer capable of recreating the grand piano and other orchestral instruments, and the first commercially marketed large-vocabulary speech recognition.

Among Ray’s many honors, he received a Grammy Award for outstanding achievements in music technology; he is the recipient of the National Medal of Technology, was inducted into the National Inventors Hall of Fame, holds twenty-one honorary Doctorates, and honors from three U.S. presidents.

Ray has written five national best-selling books, including New York Times best sellers The Singularity Is Near (2005) and How To Create A Mind (2012). He is Co-Founder and Chancellor of Singularity University and a Director of Engineering at Google heading up a team developing machine intelligence and natural language understanding.

Ci2019 featured over 40 global leaders including Chief Technology Officer of Google Ray Kurzweil (USA), CEO of NESTA Geoff Mulgan CBE (UK), Chief Data and Transformation Officer at DBS Bank Paul Cobban (Singapore), A.I. Experts Professor Toby Walsh and Liesl Yearsley (USA), Co-founder of Oxford Insights Emma Martinho-Truswell (UK), Ethics leader Professor Simon Longstaff, Ethics and Culture of Robots and AI Professor Kathleen Richardson (UK), brain performance neuroscientist Dr Etienne Van Der Walt (South Africa), transdisciplinary Behavioural Scientist Dr Richard Claydon (Hong Kong), Director of the Learning Technology Research Centre Carl Smith (UK), Australia’s Chief Scientist Dr Alan Finkel AO, Deakin University Vice Chancellor Professor Jane Den Hollander, ATO’s Jane King, Innovation & Science Australia CEO Dr Charles Day, CEDA CEO Melinda Cilento, Jobs for NSW CEO Nicole Cook, Behaviour Innovation founder & CEO John Pickering, People and Performance expert Andrew Horsfield, TEDx Melbourne’s Jon Yeo and many more to be announced.

Merging of human biological arrangements with nonbiological machine hardware is perhaps not fairy at all. Futurist Ray Kurzweil mentioned his fairy dream over again that the historic Homo sapiens are not so far remote to the fifth epoch revolution. They human species is cramped to leave their biological genes and sluggish brain circuitry to merging them with the electrified hardware and fastest machine intelligence. Merging with electrified intelligence is unavoidable because of the slow computation power of human brain circuitry. Information processing and its exchanging ratio of a biological brain are extremely sluggish compared to the nonbiological brain. Despite its amazing innovative capacity of thinking, envision or consciousness, the human brain looks crawler if a goosey person even observes the current computation pace of nonbiological machine-brain for instance.

… Daniel Kahneman’s evidential works help readers summate the conclusion that the battle amid desire and choice is not an episodic whiff of latter, nor anybody can consider it a consequent tethering of modernity, rather the prehistoric beginning was also alluring by this in a bit different context. Memory-preserver neuron cells how to make a deep impact on human happiness levels have appeared crucial in Kahneman’s investigation. … …

Harari’s conversation with Kahneman echoed his historical findings that how human species manipulate Nature in an excuse to achieve individuality and happiness. He put forward statistical references to establish his findings of the behavioral shifting of human civilization; that is,— the personification of Naturebond life then diverts human species to a different track. They missed the integrity of taking Holistic View that a ‘piece or segment’ is ultimately the part of a ‘whole’ and any partial piece or segment never sustains long if it failed attached itself to the whole. Lil bit reminder of Chief Seattle’s Letter may relevant here. It is said that the native leader once wrote a letter to the President of the United States addressing the burning land settlement issues against his tribe:

How can you buy or sell the sky, the warmth of the land? The idea is strange to us… If we do not own the freshness of the air and the sparkle of the water, how can you buy them?… So, when the Great Chief in Washington sends word that he wishes to buy our land, he asks much of us… The air is precious to the red man for all things share the same breath, the beast, the tree, the man, they all share the same breath. The white man does not seem to notice the air he breathes. Like a man dying for many days, he is numb to the stench. But if we sell you our land, you must remember that the air is precious to us, that the air shares its spirit with all the life it supports… This we know; the earth does not belong to man; man belongs to the earth. This we know. All things are connected like the blood which unites one family. All things are connected. [See: Chief Seattle’s Letter to the President of the United States: Ted Perry’s version from the movie ‘Home’ ].

On a new episode of ID the Future, Andrew McDiarmid catches up with philosopher Jay Richards at the recent COSM conference in greater Seattle. The two discuss the history of George Gilder’s Telecosm conferences and how the first one gave birth to a book Richards edited and contributed to 18 years ago, Are We Spiritual Machines? Ray Kurzweil vs. the Critics of Strong A.I.

Is the “singularity” coming, as Kurzweil argues there and elsewhere, when machines equal and then quickly surpass human intelligence? Does “machine learning” really mean learning? Will “Skynet” wake up? Jay describes Kurzweil’s sunny version of strong AI and the dystopian version. Then he argues the other side, namely that human beings possess something beyond the purely material, something even the most powerful computers will never possess. Download the podcast or listen to it here.

People say, well, but we’re going to stop being human if we merge with machines. No, that is what it means to be human.

Dr. Kurtzweil, I would like to ask you. You have made hundreds of predictions out of which many already have come true, and with no doubt many more will come through. But if you would have to single out your three most important predictions for the upcoming decade, what would they be?

Well, one is health and medicine. We talked about our bodies and our bodies are basically actually information because it’s governed by our genes. They are information processes. We didn’t used to treat it that way. It was basically hit or miss. We’d find something. Oh, here’s something that lowers blood pressure. Here’s something that kills HIV. And we would find these things accidentally, so progress was linear. Still valuable. I gave a speech to 12 and 13 year old science winners recently and I said you all would be senior citizens if it hadn’t been for this progress because life expectancy was 19 a thousand years ago. But this is going to go into high gear now. The enabling factor for health and medicine to become an information technology was the genome project. That itself is a perfect exponential and we now have the software of life and we’re also making exponential progress in being able to model it, simulate it, understand it and reprogram it.

And I could speak at great length about examples of how we’re doing that. You can for example now fix a broken heart. Not yet from romance, that’ll take a few more developments in virtual reality, but from a heart attack. My father had a heart attack in the 60s, nothing you could do about it, he could hardly walk. But I’ve talked to people now who could hardly walk and are now rejuvenated. You actually have to be a medical tourist and go to a place like Israel. But that’s just one example of many and what is now a sort of a trickle of these developments, is going to be a flood ten years from now. These technologies will be a thousand times more powerful than they are today because they’re doubling in power every year. They’ll be a million times more powerful in 20 years.

. The lectures introduce our current understanding of computational intelligence and ways in which strong AI could possibly be achieved, with insights from deep learning, reinforcement learning, computational neuroscience, robotics, cognitive modeling, psychology, and more.

Lex Fridman

Ray Kurzweil is one of the world’s leading inventors, thinkers, and futurists, with a thirty-year track record of accurate predictions. Called “the restless genius” by The Wall Street Journaland “the ultimate thinking machine” by Forbes magazine, Kurzweil was selected as one of the top entrepreneurs by Inc. magazine, which described him as the “rightful heir to Thomas Edison.” PBS selected him as one of the “sixteen revolutionaries who made America.”

Read more

My guest today is Chris Paine, director of the AI documentary film “Do You Trust This Computer?” and previously the documentary “Who Killed the Electric Car?”. The new film is a powerful examination of artificial intelligence centered around insights from the most high-profile thinkers on the subject, including Elon Musk, Stuart Russell, Max Tegmark, Ray Kurzweil, Andrew Ng, Westworld creator Jonathan Nolan and many more. Chris set out to ask these leaders in the field “what scares smart people about AI”, and they did not hold back.

Read more