Ray Kurzweil on Turing Tests, Brain Extenders, and AI Ethics

Ray Kurzweil, who currently runs a group at Google writing automatic responses to your emails in cooperation with the Gmail team, recently talked with WIRED Editor-in-Chief Nicholas Thompson at the Council on Foreign Relations. Here’s an edited transcript of that conversation.

Nicholas Thompson: Let’s begin with you explaining the law of accelerating returns, which is one of the fundamental ideas underpinning your writing and your work.

Ray Kurzweil: Halfway through the Human Genome Project, 1 percent of the genome had been collected after seven years. So mainstream critics said, “I told you this wasn’t gonna work. You’re at seven years, 1 percent; it’s going to take 700 years just like we said.” My reaction at the time was: “Wow we finished 1 percent? We’re almost done.” Because 1 percent is only seven doublings from 100 percent. It had been doubling every year. Indeed, that continued. The project was finished seven years later. That’s continued since the end of the genome project—that first genome cost a billion dollars and we’re now down to $1,000.

Full Script: Wired Magazine

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