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.
What does the worldwide head of research at Google tell his kids about how to prepare for the future of work with artificial intelligence? "I tell them … wherever they will be working in 20 years probably doesn't exist now," Peter Norvig says. Be flexible, he says, "and have an ability to learn new things". Future of work experts (yes, it's a thing now) and AI scientists who spoke to Lateline variously described a future in which there were fewer full-time, traditional jobs requiring one skill set; fewer routine administrative tasks; fewer repetitive manual tasks; and more jobs working for and with "thinking" machines. From chief executives to cleaners, "everyone will do their job differently working with machines over the next 20 years," Andrew Charlton, economist and director of AlphaBeta, says.
Every day brings considerable AI news, from breakthrough capabilities to dire warnings. A quick read of recent headlines shows both: an AI system that claims to predict dengue fever outbreaks up to three months in advance, and an opinion piece from Henry Kissinger that AI will end the Age of Enlightenment. Then there's the father of AI who doesn't believe there's anything to worry about. Meanwhile, Robert Downey, Jr. is in the midst of developing an eight-part documentary series about AI to air on Netflix. AI is more than just "hot," it's everywhere.
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.