Ray Kurzweil looks at progress and the future of nanotech, genetics and robotics over ten years after the Singularity is Near

Kurzweil identifies genetics, nanotechnology, and robotics as the three overlapping revolutions which will define our lives in the decades to come. In what ways are these technologies revolutionary?

  • The genetics revolution will allow us to reprogram our own biology.
  • The nanotechnology revolution will allow us to manipulate matter at the molecular and atomic scale.
  • The robotics [and AI] revolution will allow us to create a greater than human non-biological intelligence.

Major innovations in biotech over the last decade include:

  • Induced Pluripotent Stem Cells (iPSC)
  • Human Genome Editing (CRISPR)
  • 3D Bioprinting
  • $1,000 Genome
  • Lab Grown Tissues
  • DNA Storage
  • Rise of Citizen Biohackers

Kurzweil proposes that most diseases will be curable and the aging process will be slowed or perhaps even reversed in the coming decades.

Experimental Nanotechnology today includes:

  • Smart Contact Lenses
  • Tiny 3D Printed Batteries
  • Cancer-killing nanoparticles
  • DNA-based Computing

Robotics and AI

We’re already well into the era of “narrow AI,” which is a machine that has been programmed to do one or a few specific tasks, but that’s just a teaser of what’s to come.

Strong AI will be as versatile as a human when it comes to solving problems. And according to Kurzweil, even AI that can function at the level of human intelligence will already outperform humans because of several aspects unique to machines:

  • “Machines can pool resources in ways that humans cannot.”
  • “Machines have exacting memories.”
  • Machines “can consistently perform at peak levels and can combine peak skills.”

Artificial Intelligence Today

Most of us use some form of narrow AI on a regular basis — like Siri and Google Now, and increasingly, Watson. Other forms of narrow AI include programs like:

  • Speech and image recognition software
  • Pattern recognition software for autonomous weapons
  • Programs used to detect fraud in financial transactions
  • Google’s AI-based statistical learning methods used to rank links

The next step towards strong AI will be machines that learn on their own, without being programmed or fed information by humans. This is called ‘deep learning,’ a powerful new mode of machine learning, which is currently experiencing a surge in research and applications.

Why Is This Important?

Kurzweil calls genetics, nanotechnology, and robotics overlapping revolutions because we will continue to experience them simultaneously as each one of these technologies matures.

SOURCE – SingularityHUB