I've been thinking about pattern recognition for 50 years.  I don't know that I'm personally a particularly good pattern recognizer, but I have studied how the process works. 

The neocortex is actually a metaphor machine.  Each one of these pattern recognizers has a pattern but it can actually apply it successfully to patterns it's never seen before if they are similar and have certain invariant features.  Invariant features is a key here, and there are mathematical ways of doing that.

I've been in working in this field for decades and I believe now we have powerful enough computers that can actually start to compete with the human brain in terms of the number of levels of hierarchy.  And I'm not actually predicting that until 2029 that we will match human intelligence, but computers will nonetheless do things that humans can't do.

Watson – if it read one page, wouldn't be as strong as you or I, but it was able to read hundreds of millions of pages and its ability to read each page is going to increase.  So that's where we're headed. 

By 2029, they will match human intelligence.  And then apply the tremendous scale of all the billions of pages, millions of books that are out there and understand it and be able to have total recall of it.

But then a comment on that is it's not an alien invasion of these intelligent machines to displace us.  We will use them to make ourselves smarter, which is what we do today. 

In Their Own Words is recorded in Big Think's studio.

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