Ray Kurzweil is perhaps not known outside a limited circle but some have started to open up their eyes to who he is. He is a successful information technology pioneer with a series of technological breakthroughs on the merit list, among other things, he developed the first program that can scan text and read it with synthetic speech. 1990 he stated that a computer would defeat the world champion in chess before the decade was over, and got right (IBM's Deep Blue beat Kasparov in 1997). Since then he has presented his technological visions in a number of books. Kurzweil is at the front among those who formulate our contemporary view of artificial intelligence and future technologies.
The book he has written, The Singularity Is Near, is based on the idea that technological development follows an exponential curve that we have only seen the beginning of. Kurzweil presents the following scenario. To simulate all nerve impulses in the human brain a PC have to perform 10^19 calculations per second. With the current pace of development, Kurzweil says such computers could be common around 2020. 2030, a computer's capacity is supposed to meet all living human brains. In 2045, something will happen according to him that is called "the Singularity" - a big bang of artificial intelligence that will surpass everything we could ever imagine.
In, The Singularity Is Near, Kurzweil wants to show that research in computer science, genetics and nanotechnology is approaching the point where the exponential curve bend up and takes off. The next forty years of development in these areas will change the human condition more than it has over the last forty thousand years, he says. For Kurzweil all this is interesting for one reason only: the opportunities it gives us to build on the human body, and the rest of the world, as we want it. Kurzweil hope that genetic engineering will allow us to slow down the aging process and eventually abolish death. Millions of tiny nano-robots will circulate in the blood vessels and clean up cancer cells. And ultimately sees nanotechnology out to give us the ability to manipulate all matter atom by atom and molecule by molecule with the same ease as the pixels in a computer program, so that we can put together anything from a handful of loose atoms, a gold bar or a steak or whatever we are able to wish. Ultimately, we will end up becoming robots.