In May 1997 Deep Blue, the chess-playing IBM computer, beat world chess champion Gary Kasparov in something of a technology freak show. This was a major first-time victory for machines. Shortly after this, Ray Kurzweil wrote a book titled The Age of Spiritual Machines, When Computers Exceed Human Intelligence. In this he suggested that the equivalent of a 1000-dollar personal computer would attain the processing power of the human brain by the year 2019 (1999: 278). In 2029 such a computer would possess the power of 1000 human brains. More staggering even than this was Kurzweil’s observation that in 100 years, a ‘penny’ would buy you a computer that would possess a billion times the ‘brain’ power of all the humans on earth (p. 105). Of course by then the computers might be buying us — if they bother. Or, as Kurzweil writes, at the very least, there will be ‘no clear distinction between humans and computers’ (p. 280) and no one will be buying anything. Kurzweil does not, however, consider the fact that intelligence (and certainly consciousness) may not be the same as computational ‘power’.
KeywordsCoherence Nomad Univer Photography Alan
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