Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Technology Singularity in the 21st Century

Predictions by Ray Kurzweil:


Supercomputers will have the same power as human brains. 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 virtual reality will exist.


Computers become smaller and increasingly integrated into everyday life. More and more computer devices will be used as miniature web servers, and more will have their resources pooled for computation.

High-quality broadband Internet access will become available almost everywhere.

Glasses that beam images onto the users' retinas to produce virtual reality will be developed. They will also come with speakers or headphone attachments that will complete the experience with sounds.

The VR glasses will also have built-in computers featuring "virtual assistant" programs that can help the user with various daily tasks.

Virtual assistants would be capable of multiple functions. One useful function would be real-time language translation in which words spoken in a foreign language would be translated into text that would appear as subtitles to a user wearing the glasses.

Cell phones will be built into clothing and will be able to project sounds directly into the ears of their users. Advertisements will utilize a new technology whereby two ultrasonic beams can be targeted to intersect at a specific point, delivering a localized sound message that only a single person can hear. This was demonstrated in the movie Minority Report.


Automatic house cleaning robots will have become common.


1013 bits of computer memory--roughly the equivalent of the memory space in a single human brain--will cost $1000.


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


Computers less than 100 nm big will be possible. As one of their first practical applications, nanomachines are used for medical purposes. Highly advanced medical nanobots will perform detailed brainscans on live patients. Accurate computer simulations of the entire human brain will exist due to these hyperaccurate brainscans, and the workings of the brain will be understood.

Nanobots capable of entering the bloodstream to "feed" cells and extract waste will exist (though not necessarily be in wide use) by the end of this decade. They will make the normal mode of human food consumption obsolete.

By the late 2020's, nanotech-based manufacturing will be in widespread use, radically altering the economy as all sorts of products can suddenly be produced for a fraction of their traditional-manufacture costs. The true cost of any product is now the amount it takes to download the design schematics. Also by the later part of this decade, virtual reality will be so high-quality that it will be indistinguishable from real reality.

The threat posed by genetically engineered pathogens permanently dissipates by the end of this decade as medical nanobots--infinitely more durable, intelligent and capable than any microorganism--become sufficiently advanced.

A computer passes the Turing Test by the last year of the decade (2029), meaning that it is a Strong A.I. and can think like a human (though the first A.I. is likely to be the equivalent of a very stupid human). This first A.I. is built around a computer simulation of a human brain, which was made possible by previous, nanotech-guided brainscanning.


The most likely year for the debut of advanced nanotechnology. Some military UAV's and land vehicles will be 100% computer-controlled.


Brain uploading becomes possible. Nanomachines could be directly inserted into the brain and could interact with brain cells to totally control incoming and outgoing signals. As a result, truly full-immersion virtual reality could be generated without the need for any external equipment.

Afferent nerve pathways could be blocked, totally canceling out the "real" world and leaving the user with only the desired virtual experience. Brain nanobots could also elicit emotional responses from users. Using brain nanobots, recorded or real-time brain transmissions of a person’s daily life known as "experience beamers" will be available for other people to remotely experience.

This is very similar to how the characters in Being John Malkovich were able to enter the mind of Malkovich and see the world through his eyes. Recreational uses aside, nanomachines in peoples' brains will allow them to greatly expand their cognitive, memory and sensory capabilities, to directly interface with computers, and to "telepathically" communicate with other, similarly augmented humans via wireless networks.

The same nanotechnology should also allow people to alter the neural connections within their brains, changing the underlying basis for the person's intelligence, memories and personality.


Human body 3.0 (as Kurzweil calls it) comes into existence. It lacks a fixed, corporeal form and can alter its shape and external appearance at will via foglet-like nanotechnology. Organs are also replaced by superior cybernetic implants. People spend most of their time in full-immersion virtual reality (Kurzweil has cited The Matrix as a good example of what the advanced virtual worlds will be like, without the dystopian twist). Foglets are in use.


The Singularity$1000 buys a computer a billion times more intelligent than every human combined. This means that average and even low-end computers are infinitely smarter than even highly intelligent, unenhanced humans.

The Singularity occurs as artificial intelligences surpass human beings as the smartest and most capable life forms on the Earth. Technological development is taken over by the machines, who can think, act and communicate so quickly that normal humans cannot even comprehend what is going on.

The machines enter into a "runaway reaction" of self-improvement cycles, with each new generation of A.I.'s appearing faster and faster. From this point onwards, technological advancement is explosive, under the control of the machines, and thus cannot be accurately predicted.

The Singularity is an extremely disruptive, world-altering event that forever changes the course of human history. The extermination of humanity by violent machines is unlikely (though not impossible) because sharp distinctions between man and machine will no longer exist thanks to the existence of cybernetically enhanced humans and uploaded humans.

Post-2045: "Waking up" the Universe

The physical bottom limit to how small computer transistors can be shrunk is reached. From this moment onwards, computers can only be made more powerful if they are made larger in size.

Because of this, A.I.'s convert more and more of the Earth's matter into engineered, computational substrate capable of supporting more A.I.'s. until the whole Earth is one, gigantic computer.

At this point, the only possible way to increase the intelligence of the machines any farther is to begin converting all of the matter in the universe into similar massive computers. A.I.'s radiate out into space in all directions from the Earth, breaking down whole planets, moons and meteoroids and reassembling them into giant computers.

This, in effect, "wakes up" the universe as all the inanimate "dumb" matter (rocks, dust, gases, etc.) is converted into structured matter capable of supporting life (albeit synthetic life). Kurzweil predicts that machines might have the ability to make planet-sized computers by 2099, which underscores how enormously technology will advance after the Singularity.

The process of "waking up" the universe could be complete as early as 2199, or might take billions of years depending on whether or not machines could figure out a way to circumvent the speed of light for the purposes of space travel.

With the entire universe made into a giant, highly efficient supercomputer, A.I./human hybrids (so integrated that, in truth it is a new category of "life") would have both supreme intelligence and physical control over the universe.

Kurzweil suggests that this would open up all sorts of new possibilities, including abrogation of the laws of Physics, interdimensional travel, and a possible infinite extension of existence (true immortality).

1 comment:

Nox said...

Hey. I've been reading the articles on this blog for the past 2 nights and I realized I'm not the only one with these ideas.

I go by the nickname of Nox, I'm 18 years old and ever since I've known myself I've been questioning everything.

I got so far that about a month ago I found the final piece of the puzzle. I've currently began writing my theory down (well, ok, it's more like jotting it). Nevertheless, I still need to discuss it all with specialists in several domains. Thus, I must somehow contact them. This blog is proof that some more free-minded people exist out there. I'd like to bring them together.

Of utmost importance is this particular post, as well as the "Universal consciousness" one. They both address the same issues that I do in my theory.

The pieces that, as far as I know, only I have put together, is HOW everything mashes together (I can explain the need for science, art and religion - and their interaction) and WHY.

Say, let's assume that God ( = an omnipotent, omniscient, adimensional entity; the name is merely convention) exists in a way, beyond the space-time. What would be God's only challenge? If I recall correctly, the question appeared in Scott Adams' "God's Debris", a particularly interesting novel.

Once upon a time, God was. And he got bored and had nothing else to do but see if he could die. And he did. Do you want to hear the rest of the story?

"In the beginning, the Universe was created. This has made many people angry and has been widely regarded as a bad move." (Douglas Adams)