Ask Ray | Computer-based intelligence will become equivalent to that of human intelligence

June 1, 2013 by Ray Kurzweil

(credit: stock image)

Dear Ray,

If the development of computer-based intelligence will become equivalent to that of human intelligence within the next twenty or thirty years, this computer-based intelligence will be able to build even better computers.

Such computer intelligence will, no doubt, find a way to enhance the thought process of the human mind.

No doubt it will supersede the capacity of the human mind. This leads me to speculate that substantial numbers of human beings will have as a primary thinking apparatus an artificial intelligence.

Today one of the substantial differentiators in human beings is intellect. If we all have replicable artificial intelligences, intellect will no longer be a differentiator.

What will be the determiner of the structure in society?

I had considered asking this question of you at the national convention, but I decided that the implications would be hard to put into a simple question that would not seem abstruse to the audience.

Marc Maurer
President, National Federation of the Blind

Dear Dr. Maurer,

In response I would say that your inference in the first paragraph is true. I believe we will merge with AI and that will make us smarter. We will put gateways in our brain to the cloud. The cloud, being pure information technology, will expand exponentially and will eventually dominate human thinking.

However that will not make us more identical to one another. On the contrary it will make us more different. Right now we are all pretty similar in that we all have a very comparable neocortex with about 300 million pattern recognition and processing modules organized in a hierarchy (with the hierarchy determined by our thinking and experiences).

When we can expand our thinking without the limitations of a fixed physical brain size and the slow processing speed of biological circuits (which are a million times slower than computers), we will pursue our interests and passions each in very unique directions. So one person may delve deeply into music and another into analysis of history, and so on.

This does not mean that everyone will know everything because human knowledge is itself expanding exponentially, roughly doubling every year. As we learn more, the circle of our ignorance also grows. The more we know, the more we know that we don’t know.

All the best,