Want to live to 200? Being a cyborg has advantages
November 2, 2001 by Garry Barker
Ray Kurzweil predicts that human identity will be called into question by the massive computers of the future.
By Garry Barker
Originally published November 5, 2000 at TheAge.com. Published on KurzweilAI.net November 2, 2001.
Hal, the elegantly evil and erudite computer in Stanley Kubrick’s classic movie, 2001, a Space Odyssey is tracking a little behind time, but closer to reality than we think.
If quantum theories develop into practical computing, machines may begin to emulate and then surpass human intelligence.
Techno-optimists believe this will produce an era of universal and unprecedented peace and prosperity, where information flows freely and computers carry much of the burden of life. Pessimists think it will bring about the demise of the human race.
The question is whether the enormous power of quantum computers will allow them to learn human levels of logic, reason and innovation. Could they, for example, feel love, hate and compassion? In short, will a computer’s brain have what in humans we call a mind?
Even 50 years from now, will a computer be able to paint a Mona Lisa, carve a David to rival Michelangelo’s or compose a Requiem to match Mozart’s? Will they care if they cannot? And if they do write a Requiem, will it be ours?
Marvin Minsky, a world leader in artificial intelligence and robotics, a scientist and thinker at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, was once a pessimist but now believes humans will remain in charge. The issue for supercomputers is not the size and power of the hardware but the software to run on it. It is easy enough, says Professor Minksy, to make a robot to build a car in a factory, but harder to devise one to do the housework.
Ray Kurzweil, another eminent American technologist, is more gloomy. He predicts that human identity will be called into question by the massive computers of the future.