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.
The following is a condensed and edited interview with Demis Hassabis, CEO, DeepMind Technologies. Our stated mission is to solve intelligence, and we use the word "solve," because it can mean a few things. It means to understand intelligence, fundamentally understand it, and re-create it artificially. If you look at how civilization has been built and everything humans have achieved, it's down to our intelligence. It's our minds that have set us apart.