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Human-Level AI Is Right Around the Corner—or Hundreds of Years Away


Ray Kurzweil, Rodney Brooks, and others weigh in on the future of artificial intelligence.

Artificial intelligence is progressing rapidly, and its impact on our daily lives will only increase. Today, there are still many things humans can do that computers can’t. But will it always be that way? Should we worry about a future in which the capabilities of machines rival those of humans across the board? For IEEE Spectrum’s June 2017 special issue, we asked a range of technologists and visionaries to weigh in on what the future holds for AI and brainlike computing.

  1. Robin Hanson
  2. Martine Rothblatt
  3. Ruchir Puri
  4. Ray Kurzweil
  5. Carver Mead
  6. Nick Bostrom
  7. Rodney Brooks
  8. Gary Marcus
  9. Jürgen Schmidhuber

Robin Hanson

Author of The Age of Em: Work, Love, and Life When Robots Rule the Earth

When will we have computers as capable as the brain?

Within a century or so if we manage to achieve brain emulations, two to four centuries if not.

How will brainlike computers change the world?

Computers as capable as brains will be cheaper than brains, and so displace brains in almost all job tasks. Since computers can be made fast in factories, the economy could grow much faster, perhaps doubling every month. Humans would have to retire, but they’d own most capital, which would double as fast as the economy. So, collectively, humans get rich very fast.

Do you have any qualms about a future in which computers have human-level (or greater) intelligence?

This is an enormous change, as big as that from foraging to farming, or from farming to industry. If you don’t have qualms about a change that big, you really aren’t paying attention.

Martine Rothblatt

Founder of the Terasem Movement, which promotes transhumanism

When will we have computers as capable as the brain?

In the 21st century.

How will brainlike computers change the world?

People will no longer die, because the computerized version of themselves will insist they are still alive even if their flesh body has expired. They will be sad, and they’ll be hoping for regenerated bodies, but they will feel like a backup of their original flesh self.

Do you have any qualms about a future in which computers have human-level (or greater) intelligence?

I don’t, because I’m confident the computers will be overwhelmingly friendly since they will be selected for in a Darwinian environment that consists of humanity. There is no market for [a] bad robot, no more than there is for a bad car or plane. Of course, there is the inevitability of a DIY bad human-level computer, but that gives me even more reason to welcome human-level cyberintelligence, because just like it takes a [thief to catch a thief], it will take a human-friendly smart computer to catch an antihuman smart computer.

Ruchir Puri

Chief architect, IBM Watson

When will we have computers as capable as the brain?

A human brain is fundamentally different than being a champion chess, “Jeopardy!,” or Go player. It is something that entails essential traits like caring, empathy, sharing, ingenuity, and innovation. These human brain traits might prove to be elusive to machines for a long time, not to mention the incredible form factor and energy efficiency with which [the] human brain operates and learns. Although AI’s impact on society will accelerate further…to reach new heights in solving problems which are currently grand challenges for human society, it will be a while before we will be able to holistically answer [that] question.

Ray Kurzweil

Cofounder and chancellor, Singularity University

When will we have computers as capable as the brain?

I believe computers will match and then quickly exceed human capabilities in the areas where humans are still superior today by 2029.

How will brainlike computers change the world?

AI is already accelerating our ability to find cures for diseases, improve crop yields and other forms of productivity to reduce poverty, and find solutions to environmental problems. It already represents a brain extender. Who today can do their job or get an education without these extensions to our intelligence?

Do you have any qualms about a future in which computers have human-level (or greater) intelligence?

Every technology since fire has had intertwined promise and peril. I believe that our best strategy to keep AI safe and beneficial is to essentially merge with it. We are already on that path. Whether [intelligent] machines are inside or outside [the] body is not a critical issue. But they will ultimately go inside our bodies and brains (because miniaturization is another exponential trend), keeping us healthy (by augmenting our immune system), providing virtual and augmented reality from within the nervous system, and making us smarter …  (read more)

via IEEE Spectrum

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