We’ll get to a point where technical progress will be so fast that unenhanced human intelligence will be unable to follow it. That will mark the Singularity.
– Ray Kurzweil
What timespan are we talking about before AI outstrips human intelligence? Influential transhumanist thinker Ray Kurzweil (in his books The Age of Spiritual Machines, 1999, and The Singularity Is Near, 2005) says that the age of cyborgs and conscious machines is surprisingly near. Even though today’s machines are nowhere near the level of human intelligence, it is only a matter of time before they reach it. And more importantly, when they do reach it, a great boom of machine intelligence will follow.
Computers have a great advantage over us – they operate at much greater speed than the human brain. Combining this speed with human intelligence would mean that computers would be able to manage their own development, construct themselves, and further increase their abilities at breathtaking speeds until the common human brain would cease to be able to follow and understand them. Kurzweil calls this point Technological Singularity, or simply Singularity.
Reaching this point would have major consequences for humankind. To avoid the inevitable fate of surrendering our planet to machines, human beings would be forced to catch up with computers. And the only way to do that would be to transform ourselves, at least partly, into machines. Implants, body transformations, and genetic adjustments would be absolutely necessary. On the positive side, that would mean not only the expansion of human capabilities but also the elimination of many problems that mankind is currently facing (pollution, illnesses, hunger, poverty, etc). And of course, human lifespans could be prolonged infinitely.
However, it is hard to make more predictions than that, due to the fact that the intelligence that would rule this planet after reaching Singularity is entirely unimaginable to today’s brains.
Kurzweil thinks that most of us will live to see these great changes – considering the tempo of cybernetics advancement, he sees the advent of the Singularity in the year 2045.