Deus ex machina: former Google engineer is developing an AI god

October 18, 2017

Intranet service? Check. Autonomous motorcycle? Check. Driverless car technology? Check. Obviously the next logical project for a successful Silicon Valley engineer is to set up an AI-worshipping religious organization.

Anthony Levandowski, who is at the center of a legal battle between Uber and Google’s Waymo, has established a nonprofit religious corporation called Way of the Future, according to state filings first uncovered by Wired’s Backchannel. Way of the Future’s startling mission: “To develop and promote the realization of a Godhead based on artificial intelligence and through understanding and worship of the Godhead contribute to the betterment of society.”

Levandowski was co-founder of autonomous trucking company Otto, which Uber bought in 2016. He was fired from Uber in May amid allegations that he had stolen trade secrets from Google to develop Otto’s self-driving technology. He must be grateful for this religious fall-back project, first registered in 2015.

The Way of the Future team did not respond to requests for more information about their proposed benevolent AI overlord, but history tells us that new technologies and scientific discoveries have continually shaped religion, killing old gods and giving birth to new ones.

As author Yuval Noah Harari notes: “That is why agricultural deities were different from hunter-gatherer spirits, why factory hands and peasants fantasised about different paradises, and why the revolutionary technologies of the 21st century are far more likely to spawn unprecedented religious movements than to revive medieval creeds.”

Religions, Harari argues, must keep up with the technological advancements of the day or they become irrelevant, unable to answer or understand the quandaries facing their disciples.

“The church does a terrible job of reaching out to Silicon Valley types,” acknowledges Christopher Benek a pastor in Florida and founding chair of the Christian Transhumanist Association.

Silicon Valley, meanwhile, has sought solace in technology and has developed quasi-religious concepts including the “singularity”, the hypothesis that machines will eventually be so smart that they will outperform all human capabilities, leading to a superhuman intelligence that will be so sophisticated it will be incomprehensible to our tiny fleshy, rational brains.

Anthony Levandowski, the former head of Uber’s self-driving program, with one of the company’s driverless cars in San Francisco. Photograph: Eric Risberg/AP

For futurists like Ray Kurzweil, this means we’ll be able to upload copies of our brains to these machines, leading to digital immortality. Others like Elon Musk and Stephen Hawking warn that such systems pose an existential threat to humanity.

“With artificial intelligence we are summoning the demon,” Musk said at a conference in 2014. “In all those stories where there’s the guy with the pentagram and the holy water, it’s like – yeah, he’s sure he can control the demon. Doesn’t work out.”

Benek argues that advanced AI is compatible with Christianity – it’s just another technology that humans have created under guidance from God that can be used for good or evil.

“I totally think that AI can participate in Christ’s redemptive purposes,” he said, by ensuring it is imbued with Christian values.

“Even if people don’t buy organized religion, they can buy into ‘do unto others’.”

For transhumanist and “recovering Catholic” Zoltan Istvan, religion and science converge conceptually in the singularity.

“God, if it exists as the most powerful of all singularities, has certainly already become pure organized intelligence,” he said, referring to an intelligence that “spans the universe through subatomic manipulation of physics”.

“And perhaps, there are other forms of intelligence more complicated than that which already exist and which already permeate our entire existence. Talk about ghost in the machine,” he added.

For Istvan, an AI-based God is likely to be more rational and more attractive than current concepts (“the Bible is a sadistic book”) and, he added, “this God will actually exist and hopefully will do things for us.”

We don’t know whether Levandowski’s Godhead ties into any existing theologies or is a manmade alternative, but it’s clear that advancements in technologies including AI and bioengineering kick up the kinds of ethical and moral dilemmas that make humans seek the advice and comfort from a higher power: what will humans do once artificial intelligence outperforms us in most tasks? How will society be affected by the ability to create super-smart, athletic “designer babies” that only the rich can afford? Should a driverless car kill five pedestrians or swerve to the side to kill the owner?

If traditional religions don’t have the answer, AI – or at least the promise of AI – might be alluring.

Original source: https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2017/sep/28/artificial-intelligence-god-anthony-levandowski

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Why Tech is Accelerating – Peter Diamandis

January 23, 2016

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No doubt you’ve heard of Moore’s Law.

What you might not realize is that Moore’s Law only refers to the exponential price-performance improvements of integrated circuits (over the last 50 years).

Did you know that exponential growth has been going on for a much longer period? Or that such growth is occurring in other fields outside of computing, such as communication and genomics?

Such exponential growth is actually described by “The Law of Accelerating Returns,” a term coined by my friend and Singularity University Chancellor/Co-founder Ray Kurzweil.

This blog aims to explain the difference between Moore’s Law and the Law of Accelerating Returns – an important distinction to understand for the exponentially minded.

What is Moore’s Law?

In 1965, Gordon Moore (a founder of Intel) published a paper observing that between 1958 and 1965, the number of transistors on an integrated circuit have been doubling roughly every 18 to 24 months. He projected this would continue for some time. This concept has held true for 50 years and is known as “Moore’s Law.”

To get a gut feeling of Moore’s law, let’s look at the physical evolution of the microchip. In 1958, a scientist at Texas Instruments developed the first-ever integrated circuit. It had two transistors (the more, the better) with a “gate process length” (the smaller, the better) of about ½ inch. This scientist would go on to win the Nobel Prize.

The first integrated circuit in 1958

The first integrated circuit in 1958

Now, fast forward 13 years.

The Intel 4004 Integrated Circuit

The Intel 4004 Integrated Circuit

In 1971, Intel came out with its first commercial product, a 4-bit CPU called the Intel 4004 integrated circuit. The 4004 had 2,300 transistors with a gate length of 10,000 nanometers, and computer power of about 740 KHz.

By this time, each transistor cost about $1, on average.

Now fast forward another 40 years…

2012 GPU from Nvidia

2012 GPU from Nvidia

In 2012, Nvidia released a new graphical processor unit (GPU) with 7.1 billion transistors, a gate length of 28 nanometers, and processing power of 7GHz.

The cost of a transistor: ~ $0.0000001

In just 40 years, the technology experienced a 100 billion-fold improvement, right on schedule for Moore’s Law.

The Law of Accelerating Returns

But Moore’s Law only describes the latest period (the 5th paradigm) of computational exponential growth.

As Ray Kurzweil described in his most excellent book, The Singularity Is Near, exponential growth in computation has existed for over a century, and has gone through five different paradigms of exponential growth:

  • 1st Paradigm: Electromechanical computers
  • 2nd Paradigm: Relay-based computers
  • 3rd Paradigm: Vacuum-tube based computers
  • 4th Paradigm: Transistor-based computers
  • 5th Paradigm: Integrated circuits (Moore’s Law)

Moore’s Law (the 5th paradigm of computation) is therefore a subset of a much broader exponential principle described by Kurzweil’s Law of Accelerating Returns.

Graphic from Singularity is Near, demonstrating

Graphic from Singularity is Near, demonstrating “Law of Accelerating Returns” in the field of computation

It’s important to note that Ray recently mentioned to me that the sixth paradigm – three-dimensional computing – is already underway.

Why is Technology Accelerating?

It is important to understand the underlying drivers for the Law of Accelerating Returns. Why is technology accelerating? As Ray references, “We won’t experience 100 years of progress in the 21st century — it will be more like 20,000 years of progress (at today’s rate)”.

Here’s the basic reasoning:

  • Evolution (biological or technological) results in a better next-generation product. That product is thereby a more effective and capable method, and is used in developing the next stage of evolutionary progress. It’s a positive feedback loop.
  • Put differently, we are using faster tools to design and build faster tools.
  • In biological evolution, the more advanced life form (think cellular) is able to gather energy and reproduce more effectively, and therefore outperforms and out-evolves other life forms.
  • As a result, the rate of progress of an evolutionary process increases exponentially over time, and the “returns” such as speed, cost-effectiveness, or overall “power” also increase exponentially over time.
  • As a particular evolutionary process (e.g., computation) becomes more effective (e.g., cost effective), greater resources are then deployed toward furthering the progress of that process. This results in a second level of exponential growth (i.e., the rate of exponential growth itself grows exponentially).

Is Biology & Life Advancing Exponentially?

To paraphrase Kurzweil… The Law of Accelerating Returns also explains exponential advancement of life (biology) on this planet. Looking at biological evolution on Earth, the first step was the emergence of DNA, which provided a digital method to record the results of evolutionary experiments. Then, the evolution of cells, tissues, organs and a multitude of species that ultimately combined rational thought with an opposable appendage (i.e., the thumb) caused a fundamental paradigm shift from biology to technology. The first technological steps – sharp edges, fire, the wheel – took tens of thousands of years. For people living in this era, there was little noticeable technological change in even a thousand years. By 1000 A.D., progress was much faster and a paradigm shift required only a century or two. In the 19th century, we saw more technological change than in the nine centuries preceding it. Then in the first 20 years of the 20th century, we saw more advancement than in all of the 19th century. Now, paradigm shifts occur in only a few years’ time. The World Wide Web did not exist in anything like its present form just a decade ago, and didn’t exist at all two decades before that. As these exponential developments continue, we will begin to unlock unfathomably productive capabilities and begin to understand how to solve the world’s most challenging problems. There has never been a more exciting time to be alive.

http://peterdiamandis.tumblr.com

These Technologies Will Shift the Global Balance of Power in the Next 20 Years

December 06, 2012

Technology in the hands of businessmen

Governments, businesses, and economists have all been caught off guard by the geopolitical shifts that happened with the crash of oil prices and the slowdown of China’s economy. Most believe that the price of oil will recover and that China will continue its rise. They are mistaken. Instead of worrying about the rise of China, we need to fear its fall; and while oil prices may oscillate over the next four or five years, the fossil-fuel industry is headed the way of the dinosaur. The global balance of power will shift as a result.

LED light bulbs, improved heating and cooling systems, and software systems in automobiles have gradually been increasing fuel efficiency over the past decades. But the big shock to the energy industry came with fracking, a new set of techniques and technologies for extracting more hydrocarbons from the ground. Though there are concerns about environmental damage, these increased the outputs of oil and gas, caused the usurpation of old-line coal-fired power plants, and dramatically reduced America’s dependence on foreign oil.

The next shock will come from clean energy. Solar and wind are now advancing on exponential curves. Every two years, for example, solar installation rates are doubling, and photovoltaic-module costs are falling by about 20 percent. Even without the subsidies that governments are phasing out, present costs of solar installations will, by 2022, halve, reducing returns on investments in homes, nationwide, to less than four years. By 2030, solar power will be able to provide 100 percent of today’s energy needs; by 2035, it will seem almost free — just as cell-phone calls are today.

This seems hard to believe, given that solar production provides less than one percent of the Earth’s energy needs today. But this is how exponential technologies advance. They double in performance every year or two and their prices fall. Given that California already generates more than 5 percent of its electricity from utility-scale solar, it is not hard to fathom what the impact of another few doublings would be: the imminent extinction of the fossil-fuel industry. Exponential technologies are deceptive because they move very slowly at first, but one percent becomes two percent, which becomes four, eight, and sixteen; you get the idea. As futurist Ray Kurzweil says, when an exponential technology is at one percent, you are halfway to 100 percent, and that is where solar and wind energies are now.

Anyone tracking the exponential growth of fracking and the gradual advances that were being made in conservation and fuel efficiency should have been able to predict, years ago, that by 2015, the price of oil would drop dramatically. It wasn’t surprising that relatively small changes in supply and demand caused massive disruptions to global oil prices; that is how markets work. They cause commodities futures and stock prices to fall dramatically when slowdowns occur. This is what is happening to China’s markets also. The growth of China’s largest industry, manufacturing, has stalled, causing ripple effects throughout China’s economy.

For decades, manufacturing was flooding into China from the U.S. and Europe and fueling its growth. And then a combination of rising labor and shipping costs and automation began to change the economics of China manufacturing. Now, robots are about to tip the balance further.

Foxconn had announced in August 2011 that it would replace one million workers with robots. This didn’t occur, because the robots then couldn’t work alongside human workers to do sophisticated circuit board assembly. But a newer generation of robots such as ABB’s Yumi and Rethink Robotics’ Sawyer can do that. They are dextrous enough to thread a needle and cost as much as a car does.

China is aware of the advances in robotics and plans to take the lead in replacing humans with robots. Guangdong province is constructing the world’s first “zero-labor factor,” with 1,000 robots which do the jobs of 2,000 humans. It sees this as a solution to increasing labor costs.

The problem for China is that its robots are no more productive than their counterparts in the West are. They all work 24×7 without complaining or joining labor unions. They cost the same and consume the same amount of energy. Given the long shipping times and high transportation costs it no longer makes sense to send raw materials across the oceans to China to have them assembled into finished goods and shipped to the West. Manufacturing can once again become a local industry.

It will take many years for Western companies to learn the intricacies of robotic manufacturing, build automated factories, train workers, and deal with the logistical challenges of supply chains being in China. But these are surmountable problems. What is now a trickle of manufacturing returning to the West will, within five to seven years, become a flood.

After this, another technology revolution will begin: digital manufacturing.

In conventional manufacturing, parts are produced by humans using power-driven machine tools, such as saws, lathes, milling machines, and drill presses, to physically remove material to obtain the shape desired. In digital manufacturing, parts are produced by melting successive layers of materials based on 3D models — adding materials rather than subtracting them. The “3D printers” that produce these use powered metal, droplets of plastic, and other materials — much like the toner cartridges that go into laser printers. 3D printers can already create physical mechanical devices, medical implants, jewelry, and even clothing. But these are slow, messy, and cumbersome — much like the first generations of inkjet printers were. This will change.

In the early 2020s we will have elegant low-priced printers for our homes that can print toys and household goods. Businesses will use 3D printers to do small-scale production of previously labor-intensive crafts and goods. Late in the next decade, we will be 3D-printing buildings and electronics. These will eventually be as fast as today’s laser printers are. And don’t be surprised if by 2030, the industrial robots go on strike, waving placards saying “stop the 3D printers: they are taking our jobs away.”

The geopolitical implications of these changes are exciting and worrisome. America will reinvent itself just as does every 30-40 years; it is, after all, leading the technology boom. And as we are already witnessing, Russia and China will stir up regional unrest to distract their restive populations; oil producers such as Venezuela will go bankrupt; the Middle East will become a cauldron of instability. Countries that have invested in educating their populations, built strong consumer economies, and have democratic institutions that can deal with social change will benefit — because their people will have had their basic needs met and can figure out how to take advantage of the advances in technology.

http://singularityhub.com/2015/10/06/these-technologies-will-shift-the-global-balance-of-power-in-the-next-20-years/

Transhumanism Is Booming and Big Business Is Noticing

July 21, 2015

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I recently had the privilege of being the opening keynote speaker at the Financial Times Camp Alphaville 2015 conference in London. Attending were nearly 1000 people, including economists, engineers, scientists, and financiers. Amongst robots mingling with guests, panels discussing Greece’s future, and Andrew Fastow describing the fall of Enron in his closing speech, event participants were given a dynamic picture of the ever changing business landscape and its effect on our lives.

One thing I noticed at the conference was the increasing interest in longevity science–the transhumanist field that aims to control and hopefully even eliminate aging in the near future. Naturally, everyone has a vested interest in some type of control over their aging and biological mortality. We are, at the core, mammals primarily interested in our health, the health of our loved ones, and the health of our species. But the feeling at the conference–and in the media these days too–was more pronounced than before.

With billionaires like Peter Thiel and Larry Ellison openly putting money into aging research, and behemoths like Google recently forming its anti-aging company Calico, there’s real confidence that the human race may end up stopping death in the next few decades. There’s also growing confidence that companies can make fortunes in the immortality quest.

Google Ventures’ President Bill Maris, who helps direct investments into health and science companies, recently made headlines by telling Bloomberg, “If you ask me today, is it possible to live to be 500? The answer is yes.”

As a transhumanist, my number one goal has always been to use science and technology to live in optimum health indefinitely. Until the last few years, this idea was seen mostly as something fringe. But now with the business community getting involved and supporting longevity science, this attitude is inevitably going to go mainstream.

I am thrilled with this. Business has always spurred new industry and quickened the rise of civilization.

However, significant challenges remain. The million dollar question is: How are we going to overcome death? It’s a great question–and it’s a very common question transhumanists get asked. It’s usually followed by: And is it really possible to overcome death?

Honestly, no one knows the answers definitely yet, but here are the best tactics so far: Inventors like Google’s Ray Kurzweil believe it can be done with machines and mind uploading. SENS Chief Scientist and Transhumanist Party Anti-aging Advisor, Dr. Aubrey de Grey, believes it can be done with biology and medicine. Others believe big data can find out the very best ways to achieve better methods for living far longer.

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Carmat’s artificial heart — photo by Carmat

Organ failure is often the cause of death, and since I have heart disease running in my family, I’m a big believer in replacing organs–either with 3D printing of new organs or with robotic ones. In fact, in 10 years time, some people think it’s possible the robotic heart will be equivalent to the human heart, and then people may electively seek to replace their biological heart. Because cardiovascular disease is the #1 killer in America and around the globe (claiming the lives of about a third of everyone) this type of technology can’t come soon enough.

Entrepreneurs, venture capital firms, and even business media are taking notice of how new transhumanist-oriented companies are emerging and working to overcome death. The next generation of billionaires is likely to come from the biotech industry. But transhumanist technology is much larger than just biotech. It’s all technology that is reinventing the human being as we know it. It’s driverless cars soon to be eliminating the tens of thousands of deaths worldwide from drunk driving accidents. It’s exoskeleton technology already getting wheelchair-bound people standing up and walking. It’s chip implants monitoring our hydration and sugar levels, then telling our smartphones when and what we should eat and drink.

Transhumanism will soon emerge as the coolest, potentially most important industry in the world. Big business is rushing to hire engineers and scientists who can help usher in brand new health products to accommodate our changing biological selves. And, indeed, we are changing. From deafness being wiped out by cochlear implant technology, to stem cell rejuvenation of cancer-damaged organs, to enhanced designer babies created with genetics. This is no longer the future. This is here, today.

Looking forward, fortunes are going to be made by those companies that use radical science and technology to make the human being become the healthiest and strongest entity it can become.

****

Watch my 4-minute video on transhumanism from Financial Times Camp Alphaville 2015

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/zoltan-istvan/transhumanism-is-becoming_b_7807082.html

7 Top Futurists Make Some Pretty Surprising Predictions About What The Next Decade Will Bring

May 26, 2015

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From smartphone apps that can do seemingly everything to driverless cars and eerily humanlike robots, the past decade has seen dramatic advances in science and technology. What amazing advances are we likely to see in the next 10 years?

To find out, HuffPost Science reached out to seven top futurists — and they gave us some pretty surprising predictions. Keep reading to learn more.

Dr. Michio Kaku, professor of theoretical physics at the City University of New York and author of “The Future of the Mind:”

“In the next 10 years, we will see the gradual transition from an Internet to a brain-net, in which thoughts, emotions, feelings, and memories might be transmitted instantly across the planet.

Scientists can now hook the brain to a computer and begin to decode some of our memories and thoughts. This might eventually revolutionize communication and even entertainment. The movies of the future will be able to convey emotions and feelings, not just images on a silver screen. (Teenagers will go crazy on social media, sending memories and sensations from their senior prom, their first date, etc.). Historians and writers will be able to record events not just digitally, but also emotionally as well.

Perhaps even tensions between people will diminish, as people begin to feel and experience the pain of others.”

Dr. Ray Kurzweil, inventor, pioneering computer scientist, and director of engineering at Google:

“By 2025, 3D printers will print clothing at very low cost. There will be many free open source designs, but people will still spend money to download clothing files from the latest hot designer just as people spend money today for eBooks, music and movies despite all of the free material available. 3D printers will print human organs using modified stem cells with the patient’s own DNA providing an inexhaustible supply of organs and no rejection issues. We will be also able to repair damaged organs with reprogrammed stem cells, for example a heart damaged from a heart attack. 3D printers will print inexpensive modules to snap together a house or an office building, lego style.

We will spend considerable time in virtual and augmented realities allowing us to visit with each other even if hundreds of miles apart. We’ll even be able to touch each other. Some of the ‘people’ we visit with in these new realities will be avatars. They will be compelling but not quite human level by 2025 — that will take to the 2030s. We will be able to reprogram human biology away from many diseases and aging processes, for example deactivating cancer stem cells that are the true source of cancer, or retard the progression of atherosclerosis, the cause of heart disease.

We will be able to create avatars of people who have passed away from all of the information they have left behind (their emails and other documents, images, videos, interviews with people who remember them). These will be compelling but not fully realistic, not until the mid 2030s, so some people will find this ‘replicant’ technology to be in the ‘uncanny valley,’ that is, disconcerting.”

Dr. Anne Lise Kjaer, founder of London-based trend forecasting agency Kjaer Global:

“The World Health Organization predicts that chronic diseases will account for almost three-quarters of all deaths worldwide by 2020, so the evolution of M-Health (mobile diagnostics, bio-feedback and personal monitoring) is set to revolutionize treatment of conditions such as diabetes and high blood pressure. Apps designed by medical professionals will provide efficient real-time feedback, tackle chronic conditions at a much earlier stage, and help to improve the lifestyles and life outcomes of communities in the developed and developing world.

This improvement to our physical well-being is exciting, but what excites me even more is the parallel development of apps that meet our under-served mental health needs.”

Dr. James Canton, CEO of the San Francisco-based Institute for Global Futures and author of “Future Smart: Managing the Game-Changing Trends that will Transform Your World:”

“Wearable mobile devices will blanket the world. By 2025, there will be a massive Internet of everyone and everything linking every nation, community, company and person to all of the world’s knowledge. This will accelerate real-time access to education, health care, jobs, entertainment and commerce…

Artificial intelligence becomes both as smart as and smarter than humans. AI will be embedded in autos, robots, homes and hospitals will create the AI economy. Humans and robots merge, digitally and physically, to treat patients who may be around the world. Robo-surgeons will operate remotely on patients. RoboDocs will deliver babies and treat you over the cellphone.

Predictive medicine transforms health care. Early diagnosis of disease with medical devices that sniff our breath, and free DNA sequencing that predicts our future health will be common. Personalized genetic medicine will prevent disease, saving lives and billions in lost productivity… The next generation Bitcoin will replace traditional hard money, creating a new paradigm for digital commerce and business that will create a legitimate new economy.”

Jason Silva, host of National Geographic Channel’s “Brain Games:”

“The on-demand revolution will become the on-demand world, where biological software upgrades, personalized medicine, artificially intelligent assistants will increasingly transform healthcare and well-being. Additionally, increased automation will continue to make our day-to-day lives infinitely richer. Self-driving cars will be ubiquitous, transportation itself will be automatic, clean, and cheap. We will move into a world in which access trumps ownership and the world is at our fingertips.”

Dr. Amy Zalman, CEO & president of the World Future Society:

“Researchers now have at their disposal increasingly acute ways of looking into our brains and bodies to understand our attitudes and behavior. A few years ago, Harvard researchers showed that leaders actually have less stress, not more, than non-leaders… At Ben-Gurion University, a study of judges showed that they handed out stricter judgements before lunch — when they were hungriest.

I find the potential application of these kinds of insights awe-inspiring. A more accurate understanding of how we humans function — how we trust, cooperate and learn but also fight and hate — is a tool that public policy-makers and we citizens can use to build better governance and better futures.”

Mark Stevenson, author of “An Optimist’s Tour of the Future:”

“The technologies aren’t the most important bit — although they are super cool. It’s what society does with them, and right now it’s institutional change that’s the sticking point…. What you really want to look at, in my opinion, is new ways of organizing ourselves. So, my next book covers, for instance, the renewables revolution in a small Austrian town, open source drug discovery in India, patient networks like PatientsLikeMe and schools that are throwing out the curriculum in order to get on with some actual learning.”

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2015/05/12/futurists-next-10-years_n_7241210.html

Ray Kurzweil’s Mind-Boggling Predictions for the Next 25 Years

January 26, 2015

In my new book BOLD, one of the interviews that I’m most excited about is with my good friend Ray Kurzweil.

Bill Gates calls Ray, “the best person I know at predicting the future of artificial intelligence.” Ray is also amazing at predicting a lot more beyond just AI.

This post looks at his very incredible predictions for the next 20+ years.

So who is Ray Kurzweil?

He has received 20 honorary doctorates, has been awarded honors from three U.S. presidents, and has authored 7 books (5 of which have been national bestsellers).

He is the principal inventor of many technologies ranging from the first CCD flatbed scanner to the first print-to-speech reading machine for the blind. He is also the chancellor and co-founder of Singularity University, and the guy tagged by Larry Page to direct artificial intelligence development at Google.

In short, Ray’s pretty smart… and his predictions are amazing, mind-boggling, and important reminders that we are living in the most exciting time in human history.

But, first let’s look back at some of the predictions Ray got right.

Predictions Ray has gotten right over the last 25 years

In 1990 (twenty-five years ago), he predicted…

…that a computer would defeat a world chess champion by 1998. Then in 1997, IBM’s Deep Blue defeated Garry Kasparov.

… that PCs would be capable of answering queries by accessing information wirelessly via the Internet by 2010. He was right, to say the least.

… that by the early 2000s, exoskeletal limbs would let the disabled walk. Companies like Ekso Bionics and others now have technology that does just this, and much more.

In 1999, he predicted…

… that people would be able talk to their computer to give commands by 2009. While still in the early days in 2009, natural language interfaces like Apple’s Siri and Google Now have come a long way. I rarely use my keyboard anymore; instead I dictate texts and emails.

… that computer displays would be built into eyeglasses for augmented reality by 2009. Labs and teams were building head mounted displays well before 2009, but Google started experimenting with Google Glass prototypes in 2011. Now, we are seeing an explosion of augmented and virtual reality solutions and HMDs. Microsoft just released the Hololens, and Magic Leap is working on some amazing technology, to name two.

In 2005, he predicted…

… that by the 2010s, virtual solutions would be able to do real-time language translation in which words spoken in a foreign language would be translated into text that would appear as subtitles to a user wearing the glasses. Well, Microsoft (via Skype Translate), Google (Translate), and others have done this and beyond. One app called Word Lens actually uses your camera to find and translate text imagery in real time.

Ray’s predictions for the next 25 years

The above represent only a few of the predictions Ray has made.

While he hasn’t been precisely right, to the exact year, his track record is stunningly good.

Here are some of my favorite of Ray’s predictions for the next 25+ years.

If you are an entrepreneur, you need to be thinking about these. Specifically, how are you going to capitalize on them when they happen? How will they affect your business?

By the late 2010s, glasses will beam images directly onto the retina. Ten terabytes of computing power (roughly the same as the human brain) will cost about $1,000.

By the 2020s, most diseases will go away as nanobots become smarter than current medical technology. Normal human eating can be replaced by nanosystems. The Turing test begins to be passable. Self-driving cars begin to take over the roads, and people won’t be allowed to drive on highways.

By the 2030s, virtual reality will begin to feel 100% real. We will be able to upload our mind/consciousness by the end of the decade.

By the 2040s, non-biological intelligence will be a billion times more capable than biological intelligence (a.k.a. us). Nanotech foglets will be able to make food out of thin air and create any object in physical world at a whim.

By 2045, we will multiply our intelligence a billionfold by linking wirelessly from our neocortex to a synthetic neocortex in the cloud.

I want to make an important point.

It’s not about the predictions.

It’s about what the predictions represent.

Ray’s predictions are a byproduct of his (and my) understanding of the power of Moore’s Law, more specifically Ray’s “Law of Accelerating Returns” and of exponential technologies.

These technologies follow an exponential growth curve based on the principle that the computing power that enables them doubles every two years.

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As humans, we are biased to think linearly.

As entrepreneurs, we need to think exponentially.

I often talk about the 6D’s of exponential thinking

Most of us can’t see the things Ray sees because the initial growth stages of exponential, DIGITIZED technologies are DECEPTIVE.

Before we know it, they are DISRUPTIVE—just look at the massive companies that have been disrupted by technological advances in AI, virtual reality, robotics, internet technology, mobile phones, OCR, translation software, and voice control technology.

Each of these technologies DEMATERIALIZED, DEMONETIZED, and DEMOCRATIZED access to services and products that used to be linear and non-scalable.

Now, these technologies power multibillion-dollar companies and affect billions of lives.

http://singularityhub.com/2015/01/26/ray-kurzweils-mind-boggling-predictions-for-the-next-25-years/

 

 

 

How Close Are Humans to Immortality?

July 16, 2014

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The question How close are humans to immortality? has been studied at great lengths by different scientists in different fields. However a consensus has been achieved by a specific community of these observers on the answer to the question. Scientist Ray Kurzweil and his followers all agree that humans are about 20-25 years away from being able to live as long as they wish.

Yet what will enable the inhabitants of earth to do so? Kurzweil, a notable predictor of the milestones humanity achieved, believes that the key to immortality is nanotechnology. He thinks that given the trend of computers becoming smaller and more efficient, people will be able to have nanobots circulating in their veins, cleaning and providing perpetual maintenance. He also hypothesizes that robots will replace our organs when they fail. These advances would mean that so long as the robots are powered and working well, they will keep their humans alive and kicking.

Kurzweil’s predictions have been proven to be anything but inaccurate before. He successfully pinpointed the exact year that the smartphone would come out, and its capabilities, and he described the Internet before it was ever invented. Kurzweil has convinced his peers in the scientific community of his hypothesis of human immortality. Kurzweil calls his theory the Law of Accelerating Returns. He illustrated that through nanotechnology, humans will be able to halt and reverse the aging process. He believes that nanobots will be exponentially more efficient than normal human cells.

He thinks that not only will humans achieve immortality, but that they will be able to accomplish tasks that are impossible for the species with their normal biological makeup. Examples include such feats as doing an Olympic sprint for 20 minutes without taking a breath, or going scuba diving for upwards of four hours without oxygen.

Kurzweil urges his fellow human beings to hang in there, given how close they are to immortality. With added life and brain capacity, Kurzweil also suggests that nanobots will be able to enable humans to do things like writing a full fledged book in minutes. He continued to describe how the world will change around humans. Nanobots in humans’ bodies will be able to alter their perceptions and create virtual worlds, virtual sex will become commonplace and hologram figures will appear right in front of humans as if they were real.

He says that humans should look forward to a world where they become cyborgs that are invulnerable to almost every ailment the species faces today. To those who argue that humans should not be celebrating how close the species is to immortality because immortal life will bring never-ending boredom and despair, Kurzweil argues that immortality is the wrong term for these advancements. Immortality means that it is impossible for one to die. Kurzweil says that is inaccurate in this case, given that humans with nanotechnologies will be able to die. Dying unintentionally will be an almost non-occurrence, but willing departures from life will be available. He promises that human free will is not going to be at stake. Humans may be close to immortality.

By Andres Loubriel

http://guardianlv.com/2014/07/how-close-are-humans-to-immortality/

 

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Google I/O 2014 | video: Ray Kurzweil presents “Biologically Inspired Models of Intelligence”

June 26, 2014

Google | For decades Ray Kurzweil has explored how artificial intelligence can enrich and expand human capabilities. In his latest book How to Create a Mind, he takes this exploration to the next step: reverse-engineering the brain to understand precisely how it works, then applying that knowledge to create intelligent machines.

In the near term, Ray’s project at Google is developing artificial intelligence based on biologically inspired models of the neocortex to enhance functions such as search, answering questions, interacting with the user, and language translation.

The goal is to understand natural language to communicate with the user as well as to understand the meaning of web documents and books. In the long term, Ray believes it is only by extending our minds with our intelligent technology that we can overcome humanity’s grand challenges.

Video

Ray Kurzweil: Get ready for hybrid thinking

March 2014

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Two hundred million years ago, our mammal ancestors developed a new brain feature: the neocortex. This stamp-sized piece of tissue (wrapped around a brain the size of a walnut) is the key to what humanity has become. Now, futurist Ray Kurzweil suggests, we should get ready for the next big leap in brain power, as we tap into the computing power in the cloud.

http://www.ted.com/talks/ray_kurzweil_get_ready_for_hybrid_thinking?utm_content=awesm-publisher&utm_campaign=&utm_source=direct-on.ted.com&utm_medium=on.ted.com-facebook-share&awesm=on.ted.com_e0E6Q