With the number of his inventions, Ray Kurzweil can be compared to the famous American physicist Thomas Edison. He has been awarded with praises such as “thinking machine” and “fountain of genius.” He became famous for his prophecies, which tend to come true.
THE WORLD IN YOUR POCKET
In the next century we will move forward at a rate not 100 years, but 20,000 years, promised Professor Kurzweil. The speed of progress constantly increases. Incredible advances that have been made in just a few years, are all around us today: nano-scaling, communications, brain research, deciphering genome.
For example, the critics of early genome project believed that research and deciphering of tens of thousands of base pairs of DNA would take 10,000 years. The project was completed in nearly 10 years.
Another example is the explosive growth of the Internet in the mid-1990s. His prediction that there will be communication networks that unite millions of people around the world, suggested in the early 1980s was called crazy. Back then, the project by the Ministry of Defense, which was the prototype of today’s internet, connected only 2,000 people. And today, thanks to the World Wide Web, we are connected to the world without leaving home.
Today we go on the internet from our smartphones and the entire collection of knowledge from previous generations is displayed in the palm of our hand.
In 1937, the principles of the first electronic digital computer were introduced. And the first fully electronic computing device appeared in 1943. Since then, the power of computers increased every three years. Nowadays, it happens every 11 months.
Smartphone that we have in our pocket is billion times more powerful than the computer that we used when studying at the university forty years ago. And in 25 years, it will be a hundred thousand times smaller and billion times more powerful. And it will be integrated into our body. This is not fantasy, but a reality.
Perhaps the most important part of guessing that came to the scientist and with which people are quick to agree, but the consequences of which are very hard to grasp, is the increasing pace of technological progress.
The pace of technological progress is not going to remain at the same level. According to Kurzweil’s calculations, it is accelerated twice every ten years. Centennial progress at the current rate of development, can be achieved in twenty-five years. The next ten years will replace twenty, and the next decade up to forty years. As a result, the XXI century will be equivalent to twenty millennia with the current rate of progress. Thus, achievements of the XXI century in the field of technological progress and significant improvements will be about a thousand times greater than the pace of the twentieth century.
10 YEARS TO IMMORTALITY
Even life expectancy has increased at an accelerating rate. In the XVIII century it has grown every year by a few days, in the XIX century by a few weeks. Presently, it increases by about 120 days per year. And with revolutionary discoveries made at an early stage of genome experiments, including cloning for medical purposes, manufacturing of biotech drugs and other changes, Kurzweil predicts that within ten years we will be adding more to life expectancy each year. The means to overcome the process of aging include high-tech methods, such as nano-medicine, biotechnology and genetic engineering.
For example, the genome deciphering will allow us to update the structure of the genome as frequently as we upgrade the software on our smartphone. We will be able to reprogram itself and thus protect ourselves from diseases. Also, in the first half of the XXI century it is expected to create robot doctors at molecular level, which may “live” inside human body, eliminating all existing damages or preventing them from occurring.
WORKING IN CYBERSPACE
There will also be revolution in the today’s workforce. In the XIX century, the United States had one-third of its population working in the factories, and now it is only three percent. Our future is in creation of the intellectual property.
In addition, we are witnessing a restructuring of jobs around the world. Today, there are no boundaries between countries. In the past, anyone who wanted to work in the state of New York, had to live in the state of New York. And now we can work just as productively in the cyberspace. And the situation when intellectual worker is tied to a specific geographical location, is a thing of the past.