You may have heard the name Ray Kurzweil before. If you haven’t, that’s okay – but you have probably used some kind of technology that he has created. Kurzweil has played a critical role in developing the CCD flatbed scanner, the first text to speech synthesizer, the first music synthesizer that can recreate the sounds of a grand piano, and the first commercially marketed large-vocabulary speech recognition system. To name only a few of his inventions.
Kurzweil has also made a number of Nostradamus-like predictions about the future of technology. The only difference is that his are quite specific in terms of when and what will happen. He made many of these predictions in 1999 – well before technology was entirely pervasive. Some of these predictions include high-speed wireless band-width that will keep us constantly connected, portable computers being used more often than desktops, cars will begin driving themselves, cloud computing, and augmented reality glasses. Again, to name only a few of his predictions.
But according to Kurzweil, what happens over the next three decades is wild. He believes that in the 2020s, medical use of nanotechnology will take giant steps forward. Nanobots will extend our lives, feed us directly via our bloodstream, and assist in some organ functions while making other organs entirely obsolete. Because of the exponential growth of intelligence in nanobots, we will quickly accelerate towards the technological singularity. It is here where we will begin to merge with machines.
During the 2030s, he predicts that we will be able to upload our minds to computers, creating the “transbiological era”. He says that virtual reality and real reality will become indistinguishable and we can make the world look like anything we want, inside of our brains – that is to say, nanobots will be in our heads and can transform our reality, if we wish. We will be able to interface with machines and other humans. These machines will increase our intelligence, memory, and sensory abilities.
By the 2040s non-biological intelligence will be billions of times smarter than humans. We will live most of our lives in virtual reality. And by 2045, the technological singularity will be complete. That is when humans and machines will be indistinguishable from each other.
Kurzweil believes that we don’t have to worry about being destroyed by the machines. We will be too closely integrated with technology to even distinguish ourselves from a machine. While that does sound very frightening, the alternative is even scarier. There is no doubt that we would lose a war against some kind of entity that is billions of times smarter than us.
But that’s what I imagined in my novel, How to Enslave a Human. What would our society look like if we were ruled by a superior intelligence? In the novel, the AI that seizes control does it in such a quiet, unsuspecting way that people aren’t even aware of their presence. If machines become that smart, then what use do they have for flesh?
No matter how you personally see the future, one thing is certain: machines are evolving fast. There is no way to stop this evolution. What the future holds is quite uncertain and while Kurzweil can predict what happens up until a truly intelligent AI is developed, what happens after that cannot be well predicted. My guess is that you should embrace the impending singularity and do everything you can to become a cyborg when the opportunity presents itself. If you don’t, at the very least, you will not be able to keep up with the amped-up people who will be smarter and faster as a result of merging with technology. At the very worst, you will be destroyed by the cyborg nation.
Dylan Callens is the author of How to Enslave a Human, which is a psychological, dystopian novel set in the darkest time of humanity’s collapse and tells the gripping story of a man released from a pleasant dream generated by an artificial intelligence.
Is this our future?
The depth of this deception is unthinkable. People are on the brink of starvation while still believing that life is perfect. Meanwhile, only a handful of individuals live outside of the machine’s grasp. They are the only ones able to see the truth.
Now, Carl Winston is one of them.
Torn away from his son, Carl desperately seeks a way to find him. The machines, however, are always close behind.
Will Carl find the only person that matters to him? Will he find answers about society’s enslavement? Or is this another psychological experiment?