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Ray Kurzweil: Humans Will Become Cyborgs: The transbiological future
Transcendent Terminology Ray Kurzweil was at the iLabs Singularity Summit in Milan, Italy and discussed some of the concepts and related terminology he has written about and is noted for. “I’m not crazy about a lot of the terminology: artificial intelligence implies its not real intelligence but it is real intelligence. Virtual reality implies it is not real reality. The telephone is virtual reality. You enter a virtual space as if you are together even if you are hundreds of miles apart. One I really don’t use and object to is transhumanism because it implies we are going to transcend our humanity. I think we are actually going to enhance our humanity. We are going to transcend the limitations of biology and be transbiological. We are dealing with concepts that haven’t existed before. Cyborg sounds kind of unappealing but that is actually what we are going to become. We are going to be putting technology in ourselves.” The technology, such as smartphones and laptops, are becoming part of what we are. “We are going to be extending ourselves, literally by putting them (technology devices) in our bodies and brains ultimately.”
Software Evolution Ray Kurzweil notes that, “software is becoming more and more intelligent. If all the artificially intelligent software were to stop tomorrow, our infrastructure would grind to a halt. The software is gradually becoming more and more intelligent, taking on functions that people used to do.”
Internet Democratization ”It is actually very hard for a country to stop the Internet”, Kurzweil says. “There’s other ways of getting information into these countries. They also find that there economy grinds to a halt if they stop the Internet. That’s why Egypt turned the Internet back on. These systems have really become deeply integrated into our lives, into our economy, and they are very democratizing. I wrote in the 1980s that the Soviet Union would be swept away by the then emerging decentralized communication and that’s exactly what happened. We can see the democratizing effects. It’s also democratizing in terms of the tools of creativity. You don’t have to be a big corporation, you just have to have the right idea to create disruptive change.”
Artificial Intelligence Kurzweil discussed human empathy for evolved systems and said their was human empathy for IBM’s Watson on the Jeopardy television show. Personal pronouns were used to refer to Watson, such as “he” and ”him” and “a personal pronoun implies it’s not a machine. And it did seem to have a personality and it commanded natural human language in quite a convincing way. There was a very strong visceral reaction to watching it.” He remarked that Watson was able to understand the subtleties of human language (similes, metaphors, puns, jokes, riddles) and that Watson is “a point on a trajectory” of increasingly sophisticated artificial intelligence.
Turing Test Kurzweil said IBM’s Watson technology would do a “pretty good job” in the Turing Test application, but “would still not pass a valid Turing Test. It’s not at that level yet. But it’s a very important milestone towards getting there.” Kurzweil has a bet with Mitch Kapor the Turing Test will be passed by a machine in 20 years and “that’s a pretty comfortable prediction”. [Wikipedia: The Turing test is a test of a machine's ability to demonstrate intelligence. A human judge engages in a natural language conversation with one human and one machine, each of which tries to appear human. All participants are separated from one another. If the judge cannot reliably tell the machine from the human, the machine is said to have passed the test. In order to test the machine's intelligence rather than its ability to render words into audio, the conversation is limited to a text-only channel such as a computer keyboard and screen.]
David Orban ”Ray Kurzweil about new words, software, and empathy” I caught up with Ray Kurzweil at the iLabs Singularity Summit in Milan, Italy on March 5. In this video he talks about his dissatisfaction with the terms transhumanism, virtual reality, artificial intelligence, about the importance of understanding how reliable our software systems have become, and the empathy that we are starting to prove towards systems displaying even rudimentary levels of general intelligence, like IBM Watson. He ends with a quip about his long bet with Mitch Kapor about the Turing test.
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