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Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Technology Visions

Personal Robots

"In the not-too-distant future, we will have personal robots just like we have personal computers today. The robots of the future will be generalists. They will be employed in a large variety of tasks that require a lot more smarts and autonomy than is currently possible. They will have the ability to learn how to perform new tasks on their own without human intervention."

Alexander Stoytchev, Assistant professor of electrical and computer engineering, Iowa State University, Jan 30, 2009

The Law of Accelerating Returns

An analysis of the history of technology shows that technological change is exponential, contrary to the common-sense "intuitive linear" view. So we won't experience 100 years of progress in the 21st century -- it will be more like 20,000 years of progress (at today's rate). The "returns," such as chip speed and cost-effectiveness, also increase exponentially. There's even exponential growth in the rate of exponential growth. Within a few decades, machine intelligence will surpass human intelligence, leading to The Singularity -- technological change so rapid and profound it represents a rupture in the fabric of human history. The implications include the merger of biological and nonbiological intelligence, immortal software-based humans, and ultra-high levels of intelligence that expand outward in the universe at the speed of light.

Ray Kurzweil, inventor and futurist, March 7, 2001

Ray Kurzweil Technology Predictions:


  • Supercomputers will have the same raw power as human brains (although not yet the equivalently flexible software).
  • Computers will disappear as distinct physical objects, meaning many will have nontraditional shapes and/or will be embedded in clothing and everyday objects.
  • Full-immersion audio-visual virtual reality will exist.


  • Automatic house cleaning robots will have become common


  • 10^13 bits of computer memory--roughly the equivalent of the memory space in a single human brain


  • Personal computers will have the same processing power as human brains

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