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Future Shock 2 – Dear PC, rest in peace

Ray Kurzweil was the principal developer of the first OCR device, the first reading machine for the blind, the first CCD flatbed scanner, the first text-to-speech synthesizer, and the first commercially available voice recognition device with an impressive vocabulary. As the author of "The Age of Smart Machines" and "The Age of Spiritual Machines".

By Ray Kurzweil

Many of the long-term technological predictions underestimate the power of future technology because they are based on what I call an "intuitive linear" view of technological development, rather than a "presumptive historical" view. In the 21st century - we will not experience 100 years of progress, it is more likely that we will predict 20 thousand years of progress (according to the rate of progress today).
A calculated observation of the rate of technological progress shows that it is not constant, but human nature is of an adaptive nature, so that from an intuitive point of view it seems that technology continues to advance at its current rate, even though this is not the case. Even for the older among us, who have lived long enough to experience the advancement of technology over a fairly long period of time, the untested intuition gives a sense that progress is developing at a uniform pace. One reason for this is that our appreciation curve resembles a straight line when viewed over a short period of time, so even if the rate of progress in the recent past (ie, the past year) is 10 times greater than it was 10 years ago (not to mention a hundred or a thousand years ago) , our dominant memory is of the last experience we had.

It is not surprising, therefore, that even sophisticated commentators, when thinking about the future, discard the current rate of progress. about the next ten or hundred years. That's why I call a way of looking at the future "linear intuitive", showing that technological change is progressing at a multiplicative level, and even in leaps and bounds - just not linear, there are many examples of this, of which the exponential growth in the field of computers is just one of them. It is possible to examine data in a wide variety of technologies, and in different time periods, and see at least a two-fold increase in power, according to what I call "the law of accelerated returns". This diagnosis is not based on the continuity of Moore's Law, but on a diverse model of technological progress. This model clearly shows that technology is advancing at an exponential rate, and has done so since the beginning of evolution.

The problem is that most technological forecasts ignore the "presumptive historical point of view" of technological progress, in favor of the "linear intuitive point of view". This is why people tend to overestimate the expected short-term gains (because we tend to forget necessary details), but tend to underestimate the long-term gains (because we ignore the increase in power). This diagnosis is also true of paradigm shift rates, which currently double every decade. I predict that technological progress in the 21st century will be equivalent to a development that will require (at today's rate of development) 20 thousand years. In terms of the evolution of computing, the comparison will be even more dramatic.

Paradigms is us

In an attempt to superimpose the Law of Accelerated Returns on Moore's Law, I put 49 computing inventions from the last hundred years into a hypothetical graph, from this simple exercise comes the conclusion that acceleration in the field of computers did not begin at all with Moore's Law, which began as an explanation regarding integrated circuits, and continued as it went through many paradigm changes ( office electromechanical calculators, vacuum tubes, transformers, and finally integrated circuits). Moore's Law was not the first law, but the fifth one that spoke of a presumed increase in the field of computers, the sixth paradigm, which will include computing in three dimensions and not just two, as it is currently expressed in the flat chips, will lead to computing on a molecular level, and eventually, on the level of atomic particles. We can be sure that the acceleration of computing will survive the expected disappearance of Moore's Law.

Beneath a wide variety of technologies exist similar exponential currents, the speeds of communication, online and wireless, doubling every 12 months (and here we have a current to the power of 2 again, since it doubled every 36 months only ten years ago). Brain scan speeds double every 26 months and brain scan resolution (per unit volume) doubles every 12 months. Genetic scanning doubles every 12 months, with the cost of DNA sequences dropping in the last decade from $12 per base to less than one cent.

Miniaturization is another trend: we are shrinking technology (both electronic and mechanical) at a rate of 6 to a linear dimension per decade. The mathematical models that I developed in the last decades to describe the currents originating from the law of accelerated returns, proved their predictive ability during the nineties. Based on the information these models provide, I believe we can be confident of continued strong growth in these and other technologies for the foreseeable future.
It is important to note that these currents are deeply related to each other, we currently see powerful currents in computing, communication, miniaturization, which are expressed in a huge supply of wireless hand-held devices with Internet access, how ironic that Microsoft is considered a monopoly in the field of personal computer operating systems, precisely when the era of the personal computer is coming to an end ! The rising power today is network servers and handheld devices, and none of them are controlled by Windows (this article was written in 2000, as mentioned today handheld computers powered by Windows CE have a large market share. AB).
Since these devices are not large enough to accommodate a full keyboard, a strong stream of voice and verbal communication with our computers is to be expected. Speech is also our preferred method of communication with other people, and a significant trend in computing, since its inception, is to make computers more like people, and not the other way around. Over the next few years, legions of virtual assistants will be developed with sufficient intelligence to converse in natural language in defined areas, such as managing financial transactions, orders and confirmations, and locating information. When there is a display, even a small one, these virtual entities will have a human-like visual presence without a display, they will work on vocal dialogue .

Robots for guys

By 2009, computers will be gone. Visual information will be recorded directly on our retina using devices that will be found in glasses and contact lenses. In addition to high-resolution virtual monitors that will float in space, personal displays will provide full visual reality - virtual. The meaning of the expression "to access a website" will be to enter an environment of virtual reality - at least for the senses of hearing and sight - where we will meet other real people. There will also be virtual people, but these virtual entities will not reach human level, at least not until 2009. These developments will work on tiny electronics that will be embedded in glasses and clothing, so we will no longer have to search for the cell phones, PDAs or other gadgets that we have forgotten, And we won't have to deal with all the disorder that cables and wires introduce into our lives. We will be connected at any time, and we will be able to create any kind of connection with any person, no matter how far they are from us.
Any kind of communication, meaning except touch. Virtual reality devices are already being developed, but they will remain clumsy until virtual reality enters our bodies and minds. By 2029, as a result of exponential growth in miniaturization, computing, communication and scanning, we will have billions of nano-robots - intelligent robots the size of a blood cell or smaller - passing through our capillaries. the blood, and will communicate directly with our biological neurons.
Nano-robot technology will provide completely tangible and completely convincing virtual reality in the following way. The nano-robots are positioned close to every interneuronal connection that comes from our biological sense organs (eyes, ears, skin). We already have a technology of electronic devices that communicate with neurons in both directions, which does not require any physical contact with the neurons. For example, the scientists at the Max Planck Institute in Heidelberg, Germany, have developed "neuron transformers" that can monitor the decay of a nearby nerve cell, or alternatively, shred the decay of a nearby nerve cell, or prevent the decay. All this comes down to two-way communication between the neurons and the electronic neuron transformer. The institute's scientists demonstrated their invention through remote control - the movement of a live leech from their computer.
When we want to live a non-virtual reality, the nano robots will simply stand still (in the arteries) and do nothing. When we want to enter a virtual reality, they will suppress any message that comes from the real senses, and replace it with signals that will adapt to a virtual environment, you (that is, your brain) can decide that your muscles and organs will move in a normal way, but the nano-robots will stop the interneuronal signals, silence your real organs, and instead, will make your virtual limbs move, as they move and navigate the virtual environment.
Of course, your virtual body will not have to look like it does in the real world - you can have many different bodies for different structures and different partners. The network will provide a haven city of virtual environments for research. Some of them will indeed be real resorts, others will be strange environments with no grip on real reality. Some would be impossible in the physical world (perhaps because they are against the laws of physics). We will be able to "go" to these virtual environments alone, or we will meet other people there, real or imagined. And of course, in the end, there will be a clear difference between the two.

Network rays!

Just as webcams that show people's intimate lives are popular today, in the fourth decade of the century people will project their lives online, and you will be able to share a full sensual experience and even a complete emotional response through the Internet, similar to the plot of the movie "Being John Malkovich", except that That your experience will also include emotional levels beyond the level of the five senses, particularly interesting experiences will be stored in the archive and it will be possible to revive them again at any time.
Nano-robotic technology will allow us to expand our minds in every way imaginable. Our brain is quite fixed in its design, although we add to it patterns of neural connections and neural control centers as a normal part of our learning process, the overall capacity of the human brain today is quite constrained, and limited to three trillion connections. Brain implants based on masses of extremely sophisticated nano-robots will greatly expand our memory, and improve all absorption.

Nanorobots will be inserted into the body without surgery, they will be injected into the body or ingested by the user. People will have the authority to decide on this, so the process will be easy to reverse, it will be possible to program the robots, so that they provide virtual reality for one minute, and a variety of brain enhancements the next minute. They will be able to change their configuration, and replace the software, and perhaps the most important thing is that, unlike the neural implants that are transferred surgically and can only be placed in one place, these robotic nano-implants will be distributed in the body in massive quantities, and therefore can be placed in billions and trillions of places in the body,
Oh, and there's one more thing! We will live very long lives, longevity is one of those powerful currents. In the 18th century, a few days were added each year to human life; In the 19th century - a few weeks were added each year; And now we add almost half a year every year. With the revolutions in the fields of pharmaceuticals, genetic engineering, medical cloning of organs and tissues, and related developments in bio-information sciences, we will be able to add more than a year to our life span, every year, within ten years.
So take care of yourselves, as before, just a little longer, and you may live another hundred years.

From Business 2.0, People and Computers Publishing, October 2000

Yadan the third millennium - futurism

* This article has been revised to improve OCR. I would appreciate it if you would inform us of any further malfunctions. Avi Blizovsky, the editor of the site

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