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Ray Kurzweil has made some strong statements and bold predictions here at Big Think. Among them is the fusion between digital technology and the human body in an event called "the singularity," allowing an essentially cloud-based consciousness to arise (though hopefully a less aggressive one than the Borg's).
In our most recent discussion with Ray, he discusses the ability of natural language machines, such as IBM's Jeopardy!-slaying computer named Watson, to overleap our own cognitive abilities. The result, he says, will be a computerized personal assistant to help us throughout the day. But by scaling the human ability to comprehend the world, a Brave New Future awaits.
Comprehension is the human genius. But in a world where computers can process all of human history in a flash, that genius can be scaled. What possible industries would this eliminate risk from? Could scaled comprehension reliably create new business opportunities, each more efficient and profitable than the last?
Think not in terms of the bottom line, but the skyline. Using resources at peak efficiency in government and the private sector could mean consolidating the necessary resources to expedite a manned mission to Mars, mining asteroids for precious metals, or creating optimized health care.
We are talking about something more than augmenting human abilities with machine efficiency and power. We are talking about creating something that's simply more human: more capable of creativity, of understanding, of love, and of courage.