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Computers 'to match human brains by 2030'

Steve Connor
February 24 2008 at 11:41AM

Boston - Computer power will match the intelligence of human beings within the next 20 years because of the accelerating speed at which technology is advancing, according to a leading scientific "futurologist".

There will be 32 times more technical progress during the next half century than there was in the entire 20th century, and one of the outcomes is that artificial intelligence could be on a par with human intellect by the 2020s, says American computer guru Ray Kurzweil.

Machines will rapidly overtake humans in their intellectual abilities and will soon be able to solve some of the most intractable problems of the 21st century, said Kurzweil, one of 18 maverick thinkers chosen to identify the greatest technological challenges facing humanity.

Kurzweil is considered one of the most radical figures in the field of technological prediction. He is a pioneer in various fields of computing, such as optical character recognition - the technology behind CDs - and automatic speech recognition by machine.

His address this week to the American Association for the Advancement of Science portrayed a future where machine intelligence will far surpass that of the human brain.

Although the brain cannot match computers in terms of the straight storage and retrieval of information, it has an unrivalled capacity of associating different strands of information, to look ahead and plan, as well as performing the imaginative creativity that is at the heart of human existence.

But Kurzweil is one of several computer scientists who believe that computers are well on the way to creating a "post-human" world where a second, intelligent entity exists alongside people. - Foreign Service

Source: Sunday Independent of South Africa

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