The future cometh: Science, technology and humanity at Singularity Summit 2011

December 1, 2011

In his post-presentation press conference, Kurzweil was asked about the role of our evolutionarily-determined biological drives — and thereby motivation and emotion — as minds merge with machines and AI equals or surpasses human levels. Kurzweil noted that we have a remarkable ability to sublimate our drives, and we do so largely into innovation.

Since he sees the purpose of technology as the transcendence of our biological limitations, one interpretation of his response is that he might well define human-like AI as being motivated by the goal of achieving unfettered, ever-accelerating innovation — and that achieving that goal will generate a positive AE (artificial emotional) state.

Whether or not that’s the case, in an Australian Broadcasting Corporation interview earlier this year, Kurzweil has predicted that AI will achieve human-level emotional thought by roughly 2030:

“That’s really the big frontier right now is for computers, in general, to master human emotions. Emotion is not some sideshow to human intelligence. It’s actually the most complicated intelligent thing we do, being funny, getting the joke, expressing a loving sentiment. That’s the cutting edge of human intelligence.

“If we were to say intelligence is only logical intelligence, computers are already smarter than us. I believe it’s going to be about over the next 20 years where we close that gap in terms of human superiority today in emotional intelligence.

“Today computers can understand human emotions in certain situations. Watson, the IBM computer that won Jeopardy, did have to understand some things about human emotion to master the language in that game, but they’re not yet at human levels. They’re getting there.”  […]