Monday, February 18, 2008

Technological advances are bringing man and machine much closer together

There seems to be a recent convergence of information about man and machines coming together.

I first read this interesting BBC article about Ray Kurzweil, the grandfather of optical character recognition as well as oft-cited inventor and futurist, predicting that
machines will match man by 2029.

In the article, Kurzweil predicts that machines will reach artificial intelligence on the same level as humans just over 20 years from now. He believes that humans will have tiny robots implanted into their brains to achieve higher levels of intelligence.

From the article:
“The engineer believes machines and humans will eventually merge through devices implanted in the body to boost intelligence and health.”
Kurzweil stated, "We're already a human machine civilisation; we use our technology to expand our physical and mental horizons and this will be a further extension of that."

That was interesting enough, but then this morning, I was watching one of the morning news programs and they had an expert discuss how the innovations that Kurzweil spoke of might come about. He cited three specific projects that are not new, but are definitely continuing, and showing great promise to fulfill Kurzweil’s predictions.

* The bionic eye project at Stanford University.
In this meeting of the minds,
Ophthalmologists and physicists teamed up to create artificial vision.
The work appears promising, using cameras to send visual images to the brain with clarity that was Sufficient enough so that patients have the potential to see with a visual acuity of 20/80.

* Matt Nagel, a man who is quadraplegic and had an electronic array implanted into his brain so that he could
execute motor functions by thought process alone.

* Duke researchers who had a
monkey move a robot 7,000 miles away,
purely by mental commands.

Then, to complete my convergence trifecta of news about man and machines, I found a news alert this morning telling how the
Duke project has a future application in war situations.

Bob Dylan sang so many years ago, “The times, they are a-changing.” With the advances scientists are making in technology, it appears that so are we.

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