When Will AI Start Outfoxing Humans?

The development of artificial intelligence took big steps with Siri and IBM's Watson. And the progression of that technology is set to grow at an even faster rate in the future, says Ray Kurzweil. 

What's the Latest Development?


In a keynote speech at the South by Southwest festival, futurist Ray Kurzweil gave an incredible vision of what is to come. In terms of artificial intelligence, Kurzweil considers IBM's Watson and Siri to be major advances, taking us closer to the day in which humans will recognize machine cognition as being on the same level as our own, and therefore as equally as valuable. Yet to Kurzweil, machines will serve to enhance our lifestyle, not to rub out the characteristics that make us valuable as human beings. 

What's the Big Idea?

With the aid of nanotechnology and ever more sophisticated biotechnology, Kurzweil believes that humans will be able to stave off death for a very long time, if not become immortal. He also addressed concerns over his concept of the singularity, i.e. when AI begins producing more complex AI that is beyond human comprehension. How can we be sure the machines will not turn on us? It will not be Us vs. Them, says Kurzweil, but rather Us vs. Us. Human war already uses versions of AI. We will corrupt the technology, not the other way around. 

Photo credit: shutterstock.com

Plants have awareness and intelligence, argue scientists

Research in plant neurobiology shows that plants have senses, intelligence and emotions.

Getty Images
Surprising Science
  • The field of plant neurobiology studies the complex behavior of plants.
  • Plants were found to have 15-20 senses, including many like humans.
  • Some argue that plants may have awareness and intelligence, while detractors persist.
Keep reading Show less

Vaping changes blood vessels after one use, even without nicotine

E-cigarettes may be safer than traditional cigarettes, but they come with their own risks.


John Keeble
/GETTY
Surprising Science
  • A new study used an MRI machine to examine how vaping e-cigarettes affects users' cardiovascular systems immediately after inhalation.
  • The results showed that vaping causes impaired circulation, stiffer arteries and less oxygen in their blood.
  • The new study adds to a growing body of research showing that e-cigarettes – while likely safer than traditional cigarettes – are far from harmless.
Keep reading Show less

Space is dead: A challenge to the standard model of quantum mechanics

Since the idea of locality is dead, space itself may not be an aloof vacuum: Something welds things together, even at great distances.

Videos
  • Realists believe that there is an exactly understandable way the world is — one that describes processes independent of our intervention. Anti-realists, however, believe realism is too ambitious — too hard. They believe we pragmatically describe our interactions with nature — not truths that are independent of us.
  • In nature, properties of Particle B may be depend on what we choose to measure or manipulate with Particle A, even at great distances.
  • In quantum mechanics, there is no explanation for this. "It just comes out that way," says Smolin. Realists struggle with this because it would imply certain things can travel faster than light, which still seems improbable.
Keep reading Show less