Ray Kurzweil’s presentation (at the Singularity Summit in San Fran USA) will be based on his forthcoming book ‘How the Mind Works and How to Build One‘, in which he will discuss reverse engineering ‘the best example of an intelligent process we have’, the human brain, and as as a by product – the human mind. There have been some interesting advances in technological developments since Ray’s last book ‘The Singularity Is Near‘ in 2005, so it should be a very interesting read. The book will be released in 2011.
What does it mean to understand the brain? Where are we on the roadmap to this goal? What are the effective routes to progress – detailed modeling, theoretical effort, improvement of imaging and computational technologies? What predictions can we make? What are the consequences of materialization of such predictions – social, ethical? I will address these questions and examine some of the most common criticisms of the exponential growth of information technology including criticisms from hardware (“Moore’s Law will not go on forever”), software (“software is stuck in the mud”), the brain (“the brain is too complicated to understand or replicate”), ontology (“software is not capable of thinking or of consciousness”), and promise versus peril (“biotechnology, nanotechnology, and artificial intelligence are too dangerous”).
There is now a grand project comprising at least a hundred thousand scientists and engineers working in diverse ways to understand the best example we have of an intelligent process: the human brain. It is arguably the most important project in the history of the human-machine civilization. The goal of the project is to understand precisely how the human brain works, and then to use these revealed algorithms as a basis for creating even more intelligent machines.
As we learn the algorithms underlying human intelligence, we will similarly be able to engineer it to vastly extend the powers of our intelligence. Indeed this process is already well under way. There are literally hundreds of tasks and activities that used to be the sole province of human intelligence that can now be conducted by computers usually with greater precision and vastly greater scale.
Was it inevitable that a species would evolve that is capable of creating its own evolutionary process in the form of intelligent technology? I will argue that it was.
According to my models we are only two decades from fully modeling and simulating the human brain. By the time we finish this reverse-engineering project, we will have computers that are millions of times more powerful than the human brain. These computers will be further amplified by being networked into a vast world wide cloud of computing. The algorithms of intelligence will begin to self-iterate towards ever smarter algorithms.
This is how we will address the grand challenges of humanity such as maintaining a healthy environment, providing for the resources for a growing population including energy, food, and water, overcoming disease, vastly extending human longevity, and overcoming poverty. It is only by extending our intelligence with our intelligent technology that we can handle the scale of complexity to address these challenges.
Abstract Taken from : http://www.singularitysummit.com/abstracts/kurzweil
Also see H+ magazine’s transcription of Ray Kurzweil speaking about consciousness.
*Note, do not be mistaken, Ray Kurzweil will be speaking at the Singularity Summit in the USA during August, not in September during the Singularity Summit in Australia.