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Kurzweil Responds: Don't ­nderestimate the Singularity

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The Singularity

Credit: Courtesy of Technology Review

Paul Allen and a colleague recently challenged inventor and author Ray Kurzweil's prediction that computers will soon surpass human intelligence, an event known as the Singularity.

In a rebuttal, Kurzweil writes that Allen's claim that computer technology's evolution is inherently unpredictable is not true because it is "being pursued by a sufficiently dynamic system of competitive projects that a basic measure such as instructions per second per constant dollar follows a very smooth exponential path going back to the 1890 American census."

Despite regular predictions that Moore's Law will hit a physical wall, Kurzweil notes that Intel and other chipmakers are approaching a sixth paradigm of computing technology, which involves three-dimensional computing to sustain exponential improvement in price performance.

He predicts that the sixth paradigm will maintain the persistence of the Law of Accelerating Returns in respect to computer price performance to a point where $1,000 of computation will be trillions of times more powerful than the human brain. Kurzweil also takes issue with Allen's dismissal of IBM's Watson supercomputer as narrow, rigid, and fragile, pointing out that the machine deals with a massive spectrum of human knowledge and is capable of managing linguistic subtleties such as puns, similes, and metaphors.

From Technology Review
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