Artificial Intelligence (AI) will become as smart as humans in just 12 years and the much-proclaimed technological singularity between humans and AI will also be accomplished by 2029, according to author, futurist and director of engineering for Google Ray Kurzweil. Speaking at SXSW, he predicted that machines will help improve humans and our lives, even help make us funnier and sexier.
"What's actually happening is [machines] are powering all of us. They're making us smarter. They may not yet be inside our bodies, but, by the 2030s, we will connect our neocortex, the part of our brain where we do our thinking, to the cloud," Kurzweil said. "We're going to get more neocortex, we're going to be funnier, we're going to be better at music. We're going to be sexier. We're really going to exemplify all the things that we value in humans to a greater degree."
"By 2029, computers will have human-level intelligence," Kurzweil added. "That leads to computers having human intelligence, our putting them inside our brains, connecting them to the cloud, expanding who we are.
"Today, that's not just a future scenario. It's here, in part, and it's going to accelerate."
Kurzweil is not worried about the dangers of AI to society, unlike other tech experts such as Elon Musk and Stephan Hawking, both of whom have warned in the past about how AI could be the harbinger of possible doom.
"Deep artificial intelligence — or what is sometimes called artificial general intelligence, where you have AI that is much smarter than the smartest human on Earth — I think that is a dangerous situation," Musk warned recently. His viewpoints however, are similar to Kurzweil's as Musk claimed that humans will need to merge with machines or face the risk of becoming irrelevant.
However, Hawking is much more wary of AI and has cautioned that it could wipe out mankind, if not handled carefully. He said: "Success in creating AI could be the biggest event in the history of our civilisation. But it could also be the last unless we learn how to avoid the risks. The rise of powerful AI will be either the best, or the worst thing, ever to happen to humanity. We do not know which."
Regardless of whether one considers AI beneficial or dangerous to humanity, it is undeniable that tech advancements in the field are rapidly growing and are clearly here to stay. Kurzweil claims that the theory of an all-powerful, evil AI enslaving humanity is "not realistic".
"We don't have one or two AIs in the world. Today we have billions," he said.
"Ultimately, it will affect everything. We're going to be able to meet the physical needs of all humans. We're going to expand our minds and exemplify these artistic qualities that we value."
After publication of this article, Kurzweil provided us with a statement clarifying his predictions for when humanity will achieve "singularity".
He said, "2029 is the consistent date I have predicted for when an AI will pass a valid Turing test and therefore achieve human levels of intelligence. I have set the date 2045 for the 'Singularity' which is when we will multiply our effective intelligence a billion fold by merging with the intelligence we have created."