Spiegel | Interview with Ray Kurzweil: A simulated brain can learn like a child

December 19, 2012

Spiegel — December 19, 2012 | Wolfgang Stieler

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The futurist Ray Kurzweil is known for his unwavering belief in human progress. In the interview he talks about his latest book, on machines that learn as children, and the hope of eternal life.

Q: Mr. Kurzweil, one of your main theses is that technological progress accelerates continuously. If we are now, for example, but smartphones, then the operating system of these devices is based on Unix, a technology from the sixties. Where is the progress?

Kurzweil: It makes no sense to make up a new technology that works well. We also have a user directly to do with Unix’s nothing. But there are a lot of extra layers that lie between us and Unix. Which allow us to speak to the smartphone, ask questions, access the knowledge of the world and so on. None of this could be done with the old Unix in the sixties. We add more and more new skills. It’s like the human brain. In essence, we still have the brain, which we have inherited from our reptilian relatives. But we have to get the neocortex. This opens up completely new possibilities. [...]