In his book, The Singularity Is Near: When Humans Transcend Biology, Kurzweil predicts a "future period during which the pace of technological change will be so rapid, its impact so deep, that human life will be irreversibly transformed." This Singularity, as Kurzweil calls it, will be "the culmination of the merger of our biological thinking and existence with our technology, resulting in a world that is still human but that transcends our biological roots."
Kurzweil believes we are already in the early stages of this transition and that the pace of the transformation will accelerate exponentially. By 2020, Kurzweil believes we will witness "a second revolution in the area of nanotechnology." By the 2030s, we will be "capable of uploading our minds onto the Internet, living in various virtual worlds and even avoiding aging and evading death." By the 2040s, "non-biological intelligence will be billions of times better than the biological intelligence humans have today, possibly rendering our present brains as obsolete."
While Kurzweil is an undoubted technology optimist, he acknowledges the "grave dangers" new technologies might pose for humankind. "Technology has always been a double-edge sword," Kurzweil told CNN.
I haven't read Kurzweil's book, but I'm not sure I buy all his predictions. A few unforeseen catastrophes could derail his timeline. Furthermore, reviewers on Amazon write that Kurzweil offer detailed technical explanations for his assertions, but fails to examine how our social, political, and religious systems might influence his predictions. I'll have to read Kurzweil's book and see for myself.
As for Kurzweil's predictions, what do you think?
Bill Detwiler has nothing to disclose. He doesn't hold investments in the technology companies he covers.
Bill Detwiler is Managing Editor Tech Pro Research and the host of Cracking Open, CNET and TechRepublic's popular online show. He was most recently Managing Editor for TechRepublic Pro. Prior to joining TechRepublic in 2000, Bill was an IT manager, database administrator, and desktop support specialist in the social research and energy industries. He has bachelor's and master's degrees from the University of Louisville, where he has also lectured on computer crime and crime prevention.