Get ready for a scary new world of life-enriching robot implants

February 16, 2008

The advances are so rapid that one inventor says that humanity will be transformed by 2050. Our correspondent reports from the American Association conference in Boston. Artificial intelligence will match the human intellect within a couple of decades, according to an inventor who predicts a technological revolution in which intelligent “nano-robots” work inside the body to stave off ageing and enhance the capacity of our minds.

Ray Kurzweil, a software engineer and futurologist, said yesterday that technology was advancing so fast that it would transform the way that people lived by the middle of the century, extending life spans, protecting against disease and even improving the biological hardware of the human body and brain. Mr Kurzweil, a member of a panel that published a report yesterday detailing the great engineering challenges of the 21st century, said that the rate at which science and technology moved forward was doubling every two decades. This suggested that there would be 32 times more technical progress over the next half-century than in the last.

The rapid rate of progress would lead to artificial intelligence (AI) surpassing the power of the human mind and to nanotechnology allowing this to be incorporated in machines that could fight disease and reverse the ageing process, he told the American Association for the Advancement of Science conference in Boston. […]