Documenting the Coming Singularity

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Is Kurzweil Right and is the Singularity Near? - November 13, 2012 by Matthew Feeney

High-functioning artificial intelligence is the stuff of science fiction: the malicious HAL in 2001, the malevolent machines in Battlestar Galactica and The Matrix, the Butlerian Jihad in Frank Herbert’s Dune series. Charles Stross’ novel Accelerando describes the Matrioshka brain, an artificial mind that requires the energy of a star to function.

But the idea won't necessarily be science fiction forever, and we may have to take the concept of artificial intelligence (AI) seriously sooner than many expect. The ongoing acceleration in technology has prompted serious discussions of AI, including the possibility that the “Singularity”—the creation of a greater-than-human intelligence—might occur. In his 2005 book The Singularity is Near, the futurist Ray Kurzweil predicted that we can expect the Singularity by 2045 and that superintelligences will eventually colonize vast swathes of galaxies. In his latest book, How to Create a Mind, Kurzweil argues that reverse-engineering a human brain is the best route to creating high functioning AI.

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