In a keynote speech at the South by Southwest festival, futurist Ray Kurzweil gave an incredible vision of what is to come. In terms of artificial intelligence, Kurzweil considers IBM’s Watson and Siri to be major advances, taking us closer to the day in which humans will recognize machine cognition as being on the same level as our own, and therefore as equally as valuable. Yet to Kurzweil, machines will serve to enhance our lifestyle, not to rub out the characteristics that make us valuable as human beings.
What’s the Big Idea?
With the aid of nanotechnology and ever more sophisticated biotechnology, Kurzweil believes that humans will be able to stave off death for a very long time, if not become immortal. He also addressed concerns over his concept of the singularity, i.e. when AI begins producing more complex AI that is beyond human comprehension. How can we be sure the machines will not turn on us? It will not be Us vs. Them, says Kurzweil, but rather Us vs. Us. Human war already uses versions of AI. We will corrupt the technology, not the other way around.