Google and NASA make quantum leap with new computer

May 23, 2013

But one man at Google definitely has a specific vision. As Greg Satell at Forbes wrote, “In many ways, the Google-NASA partnership represents a new Manhattan Project, but instead of the aim being a nuclear explosion, the goal is to simulate the human brain, a feat that Google’s Director of Engineering, Ray Kurzweil, believes will be completed before the end of the next decade.”

Kurzweil is one of the world’s leading experts on artificial intelligence, and with his position at Google, he has a great deal of freedom to direct the company’s $6.7 billion research and development budget towards A.I., and towards calculations and problem-solving that only a machine as sophisticated as a quantum computer could handle.

Kurzweil is the author of seven books, including The Age of Spiritual Machine s and The Singularity Is Near , in which he addresses, among other elements of artificial intelligence, an event called “the singularity.”

“The singularity” is the term for the theoretical emergence of technological superintelligence, when computer intelligence and human intelligence reach equilibrium and become inseparable. Moreover, many believe computer superintelligence would quickly and handily surpass human intelligence.

The scientists and theorists who believe the singularity is coming, Kurzweil being prominent among them, project the event happening within a general range of 2030 to 2070.

There is a lot to be read about the singularity, about quantum computing, and about quantum mechanics for that matter, but for the purposes of this story, the takeaway is this: Google has given an important job with a great deal of responsibility to a man who believes 100% that, within less than a century, machines will have intelligence equal to or greater than that of the most intelligent human being.

Kurzweil will have direct access to the Ames Research Center quantum computer, as well as Google’s deep pockets, in order to explore and develop artificial intelligence. […]