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Why 2020 is a rare window in time that’s hard to see beyond

Published On : Thursday Jul 02 2020

Why 2020 is a rare window in time that’s hard to see beyond

In 1995, I was in high school in Colorado, reading a fledgling media venture called CNET via my family’s dialup AOL account and an ancient desktop PC clone running on a 486 processor. Twenty-five years later, I can now read, hear and watch CNET on an array of devices, from phones and watches to smart speakers, tablets and even the monitors at my local gas pumps.

In another 25 years, if the predictions of some of Silicon Valley’s smartest people come true, we may have the latest CNET news and reviews transmitted directly into our brains, skipping screens altogether. Or we may test the latest products in an immersive VR environment set up by CNET’s experts. Or those immersive experiences may become the products themselves, as some of us chose to completely disconnect our consciousness from our biological bodies and upload into the cloud to live forever as software.


That last vision comes from the mind of Google’s chief futurist and noted author Ray Kurzweil, who has been predicting for many years now that we’ll reach a technological singularity by the year 2045, when CNET will hopefully be turning 50.

The singularity is a concept that Kurzweil has popularized over the past couple of decades; the basic idea is that computers and artificial intelligence will become so powerful and so smart that they’ll be able to begin improving themselves without the help of humans. Kurzweil says it then becomes difficult to predict what happens next.

“By 2045, we’ll have expanded the intelligence of our human machine civilization by a billionfold,” he said in the below Big Think interview from 2009. “That will be singularity, and we borrow this metaphor from physics to talk about an event horizon: It’s hard to see beyond.”

Even before we reach the singularity, Kurzweil predicts we’ll have the ability to live much longer or perhaps forever with the help of nanobots that swim around our bloodstreams repairing our organs and vanquishing disease. If our physical bodies can’t be prevented from failing, there’s no reason to worry, because all those worries and cares and everything else that’s ever passed through your mind can be digitized and uploaded into some sort of Utopian Matrix.

I haven’t been thinking about the future as long as Kurzweil has, but I have been following folks like him for two decades now, and the reality that we get is often much messier than what we’re promised.

Truly groundbreaking innovation (I’m talking about the big stuff, like driverless cars, not choosing an Uber over a taxi) often comes on slowly because it takes time for the masses to catch up to the early adopters. Many humans tend to be stubborn, and annoyed by big changes.

Right now I’m less interested in extrapolating the technological gains of the last 25 years and more concerned about fixing the future, and that starts with how we think about it here in the present…Read more>>



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