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The singularity is near again
Material posted: Publication date: 11-01-2014

Futurist Raymond Kurzweil: in ten years we will live in virtual reality and led conversations with artificial intelligence.

American inventor Raymond Kurzweil — futurist with twenty years of experience. The press is calling him a tireless genius and perfect thinking machine; the business magazine Inc. has enlisted it in the list of top entrepreneurs of all times and peoples, describing how the rightful heir to Thomas Edison.


Futurist Raymond Kurzweil

Kurzweil became famous in the 1970s, establishing one of the first machine speech recognition systems; in the 1980s he founded Kurzweil Music Systems, producing the same synths. In the 1990s, predicted the imminent appearance of unmanned vehicles and mobile phones that will answer the questions of the owners. He believes that he will live forever through biotechnology and downloading his consciousness into the computer; since 2012 works as Director of engineering for Google.

On Thursday CNN published five of Kurzweil's predictions for the next decade. All the forecasts futurist relies on the so-called law of accelerating returns — the exponential acceleration of technological progress, which, in turn, pushes the changes to all other aspects of human life — from Economics to biology.


Ten years of clinical practice will change dramatically humanity to master the technology to transform your own biology to protect against disease and aging. Now we have ten years have a full code of the human genome and have achieved considerable success in the correlation of certain genes with the processes for which they are responsible.

These findings appear means to reprogram the human body in exactly the same way as the person reprogram your computer.

For example, RNA interference can turn off genes that are associated with aging and a predisposition to various diseases. Gene therapy will improve human genome, improving some characteristics or adding new ones.

Medicine will radically change the newly developed method of creating so-called induced pluripotent stem cells. It allows us to grow stem cells similar to embryonic cells from ordinary human body, for example, skin cells. This makes it possible to avoid the ethically controversial use of embryos — and how much you want to grow human organs.

"Now we can mend a broken heart — not from love, but from a heart attack, is rejuvenating its reprogrammed stem cells," says Kurzweil.

Modern medicine is also subject to the "law of accelerating returns". Today the technologies that reprogram the "software" that underlie human biology are already a thousand times more effective than in 2003, when the draft human Genome had just been completed. And if now their clinical application is a breakthrough, in the 2020s, it will become a daily routine.

Energy and food revolution

Kurzweil is sure that by 2030 solar energy will be able to satisfy all the needs of mankind. The total number of watts produced by solar panels, is growing exponentially, doubling every two years.

"If we can at least partially use to tens of thousands of solar rays falling on Earth, we will be able to satisfy one hundred percent of our energy needs," predicts futurologist.

Солнечные батареи в Индии. Фото: Ajit Solanki / AP

Solar panels in India. Photo: Ajit Solanki / AP

The cost per watt of solar electricity will start to decline rapidly, once when designing solar panels everywhere will begin to apply the latest molecular techniques. In a recent report, Deutsche Bank noted that "in India and Italy, the unsubsidized cost of solar energy equals the cost of electricity from the network. By 2014 even more countries will reach parity solar energy and ordinary electricity."

The energy revolution will entail food. Once on the planet will be available for affordable energy, will be faster and cheaper the process of purification and desalination of water. The optimization will also affect the agriculture from the traditional to the agro-industrial complex automated vertical farms, where artificial intelligence will grow vegetables and fruits hydroponically.

From farms will be to get rid at all, Kurzweil predicts, limiting the cultivation of "meat" (muscle tissue of animals, identical to "natural") in a test tube.

3D printers

After seven to ten years the majority of household items will be 3D printers. Of course, today, their functionality is extremely limited — it is hard to imagine that by the end of the decade they will be really essential in daily life. According to Kurzweil, such skepticism was not warranted.

"If you look at the life cycle of technologies, we will see the early period of hyperintensional, then a decline and disappointment, followed by a real revolution. Remember the Internet boom in the 1990s and followed in the 2000s dotcom bubble? About the same time and Google was launched, and now we see multi-billion dollar Internet company," writes the engineer.

Similarly, now 3D printers are at a very early stage of development, but in the 2020s they will come the Golden age. The ability to "print" yourself a wardrobe for mere pennies by downloading the source scheme, will not put an end to the fashion industry. To verify this, just look at other industries, also experienced a "digitalization" — the book publishing, film and music. Even in the distant future, when 3D home printer will "print" a gun or a biodegradable scaffold for prosthetic internal organs, industrial production would still be profitable.

Artificial intelligence

Within five years all of the search engine will fully switch to human language. A couple of years ago, the IBM supercomputer "Watson" became the best player in the quiz show, Jeopardy! — the Russian analogue of "Their game". In the quiz ask rather complicated questions, often involving puns, jokes and metaphors. Despite the fact that recently a sense of humor and the ability to understand the allegory was considered a privilege of the human mind, artificial intelligence answered all questions without hesitation, beating the tandem of the two most successful human players.

Суперкомпьютер IBM «Уотсон» побеждает в телешоу Jeopardy. Фото: Jeopardy Productions / AP

IBM supercomputer "Watson" won the quiz show, Jeopardy. Photo: Jeopardy Productions / AP

Most of their knowledge "Watson" learned something from Wikipedia and other encyclopedias; supercomputer just read 200 million pages. Kurzweil now works for Google on the artificial intelligence that would be capable of full conversation with the user.

"For example, he will engage you in dialogue to clarify ambiguities or difficult questions," he says.

Virtual reality

In the 2020s, we'll settle in with full immersion to work and communicate with each other in virtual reality — the totality of artificially induced visual, auditory and tactile sensations. In fact, Kurzweil says, the phone — this is a virtual reality where people can "meet," but only in the framework of acoustical perception. Video conferencing in messenger and smartphones have added a visual perception — although not yet in three-dimensional. Full visual immersion will appear within ten years, believes futurologist.

"We will be able to Supplement reality so that I can see you sitting on the couch in my living room, although we will share hundreds of miles. Your points of"augmented reality" will tell you jokes and interesting stories, relevant to the conversation as you are," he predicts.

The final touch to virtual reality will add tactile sensations. Their simulation will be possible thanks to nanorobots that form in the brain signals, identical signals from the nerve receptor.

In his book "the Singularity today," Kurzweil predictedthat by the mid twenty-first century homo sapiens are evolving into a new kind of "software" that will be "live on the web, projecting bodies to where they need or want, including holographic and foggy (steam) projected bodies, and physical bodies comprising swarms of nanobots".

To survive before the advent of this technology, 65-year-old Kurzweil, in his words, daily consume "250 supplements (pills)" and gets a "six intravenous injections (nutritional supplements that enter the bloodstream directly bypassing the digestive tract)". Despite the fact that Kurzweil truly accurately foretold many events of modern history, including the collapse of the USSR and the victory of computer over living chess player, not all the exact predictions of futurist — in 2012, Forbes magazine published a list of his unfulfilled prophecies.


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