Ray Kurzweil, the speech recognition pioneer and now director of engineering at Google, has suggested that it will take just 12 years for computers to become as intelligent as human beings.
Kurzweil has also suggested that people will connect their brains directly with computers via their neo-cortex and, as a result, become funnier, better at music and sexier, too.
Kurweil was speaking at the SXSW conference in the US.
"By 2029, computers will have achieved human-levels of intelligence," Kurzweil claimed. "They can already do things greater than humans in certain areas, like play Go and recognise images better than humans. But they will have the wide range of human intelligence and particularly really understand language at human levels by 2029.
"My scenario for how we're going to use that is that we're going to merge with it. We're already doing that. Who could do their work today without these 'brain extenders' [computers] that we already have?" said Kurzweil.
He continued: "They may not yet be inside our brains and bodies, but, by the 2030s, we will connect our neocortex, the part of our brain where we do our thinking, to the cloud," he said.
"We will directly connect with the cloud and not just to access services like search and translation but to actually make ourselves smarter. That's the primary application of artificial intelligence."
He also suggested that such technology won't be restricted to the wealthy but will be available pretty much for anyone. Drawing an analogy with mobile phones, when they were house bricks that could do little more than make and receive calls, only the rich could afford one. But today's smartphone that can do almost anything is a relatively cheap and ubiquitous device.
While many people would understandably be squeamish about the idea of connecting a computer directly to the brain, Kurzweil suggested that it would likely happen first in medicine.
"There are people with computers in their brains today - Parkinson's [disease] patients. The first ones were very primitive but now they are very sophisticated and they connect to multiple places in the brain. The latest ones enable you to download new software, wirelessly to the computer inside your brain. That's how these things start," said Kurzweil.
The transition, though, won't take place overnight, but will happen gradually.
"We're going to be inhabiting virtual and augmented reality. Augmented reality will be with us at all times. We're going to be smarter. We already have access to all of human knowledge, which itself is doubling every year, but we'll have even more intimate connection to it.
"We're going to be able to be smarter… I describe the neo-cortex as a hierarchy of pattern recognition modules and at the height of the hierarchy is where humour and music reside. We got that with these big foreheads two million years ago.
"Other animals aren't funny… So we're going to get more neo-cortex, we are going to be funnier, we're going to be better at music. We're going to be sexier. We're really going to exemplify all the things that we value in humans to a greater degree," he said.
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