It seems like every week there is a new apocalyptic theory and the latest one suggests that ‘life as we know it will end in 2045’. However, this time the prediction hasn’t come from a conspiracy theorist or an octopus.
Instead it comes from Google’s chief of engineering, Ray Kurzweil, who has suggested robots ‘will reach human intelligence by 2029’, a move that ‘will change the nature of humanity itself’.
Currently, artificial intelligence (AI) is limited to the likes of voice assistants such as Siri and computers like Deep Blue which have beaten grand-masters at chess.
As yet, no AI has fully passed the infamous Turing test which tests a machine’s ability to exhibit intelligence indistinguishable from a human.
At the moment we have AI which is intelligent at doing one thing, but a breakthrough is expected to happen over the next decade. Once AI is able to become adaptable and turn its hand to a wider variety of tasks, the Turing Test will be passed.
The next step will then be ASI – artificial super-intelligence – where machines are more intelligent and stronger than humans.
And this new age of robots is coming quicker than previously expected with Google predicting the machine will be as powerful as the human brain by 2029 with 2045 being the year that everything will change.
No-one knows exactly what this will mean for humanity but we have seen enough science-fiction to realise that it may not be good news.
I doubt Kurzweil is imagining a Terminator-like dystopian nightmare but there is a theory that says AI will act to preserve itself at the expense of humans.
Seeing that people are continually glued to screens anyway, are we really that far away from humans and machines being the same?