Inventor and author Ray Kurzweil, who currently runs a group at Google writing automatic responses to your emails in cooperation with the Gmail team, recently talked with WIRED Editor-in-Chief Nicholas Thompson at the Council on Foreign Relations. Here's an edited transcript of that conversation. Nicholas Thompson: Let's begin with you explaining the law of accelerating returns, which is one of the fundamental ideas underpinning your writing and your work. Ray Kurzweil: Halfway through the Human Genome Project, 1 percent of the genome had been collected after seven years. So mainstream critics said, "I told you this wasn't gonna work.
Oxford philosopher and author Nick Bostrom (left) and DeepMind CEO Demis Hassabis (right). Machines will quickly become significantly smarter than humans when they achieve human level intelligence, according to a high-profile panel of artificial intelligence (AI) leaders. A YouTube video released by the Future of Humanity Institute this week shows Elon Musk, the billionaire cofounder of Tesla, SpaceX and PayPal, talking on a panel earlier this month alongside the likes of DeepMind CEO Demis Hassabis, who sold his company to Google for £400 million in 2014, and Oxford philosopher Nick Bostrom. "Once we get to human level-AI, how long before we get to where things start taking off?" asked MIT professor and panel moderator Max Tegmark, citing an "intelligence explosion." Tegmark added: "Some people say days or hours.
"When you are born, you know nothing." This is the kind of statement you expect to hear from a philosophy professor, not a Silicon Valley executive with a new company to pitch and money to make. A tall, rangy man who is almost implausibly cheerful, Hawkins created the Palm and Treo handhelds and cofounded Palm Computing and Handspring. His is the consummate high tech success story, the brilliant, driven engineer who beat the critics to make it big. Now he's about to unveil his entrepreneurial third act: a company called Numenta. But what Hawkins, 49, really wants to talk about -- in fact, what he has really wanted to talk about for the past 30 years -- isn't gadgets or source codes or market niches.
According to scientists and legal experts, responding to the bank's warning this November, there is now an urgent need for the development of intelligent algorithms to be put on the political agenda. Top of the agenda as far as Lightfoot is concerned is the economic impact if AI cuts large amounts of jobs and the incomes from people, how will they make a living and what will they do, a concern that Professor Toby Walsh, an expert in AI at Australia's University of New South Wales and a prominent campaigner against the use of AI in military weapons, says is justified and one that needs to be urgently considered. Though Professor Walsh and fellow AI expert Murray Shanahan, Professor of Cognitive Robotics at London's Imperial College were wary of calls for regulation of the sector, which they said, would inhibit research. According to Professor Walsh scientists working in AI have already started to exercise a degree of self-control over the exploitation of the discoveries being made in AI the areas that need to be focussed on are the ramifications of the technology.