How fast is technology changing? According to many experts, faster than the majority of us think or are prepared for. According to one futurist, Ray Kurzweil, “we will have both the hardware and the software to achieve human level artificial intelligence with the broad suppleness of human intelligence including our emotional intelligence by 2029.” If that sounds like something from a scary movie (“Terminator” may come to mind), Mr. Kurzweil says not to worry, such super machines will also have morals and respect us as their creators (the people in scary movies rarely think that anything bad will happen to them either). He also believes that humans themselves will be smarter, healthier, and more capable in the near future by merging with our technology. For example, tiny robots implanted in our brains will work directly with our neurons to make us smarter (this may call to mind some other movies).  Unfortunately, the recognition of subtle patterns posed formidable problems for computers. The difficulty was an exponential growth of the recognition search path. The problems in the diagnosis of diseases was typical. Normally, many shared symptoms were presented by a multitude of diseases. For example, pain, or fever could be indicated for many diseases. Each symptom pointed to several diseases. The problem was to recognize a single pattern among many overlapping patterns. When searching for the target disease, the first selected ailment with the first presented symptom could lack the second symptom. This meant back and forth searches, which expanded exponentially as the database of diseases increased in size. That made the process absurdly long drawn – theoretically, even years of search, for extensive databases. So, in spite of their incredible speed, rapid pattern recognition on computers could never be imagined.

Will such a technological revolution take place? Some would argue that it is inevitable, or that it is already happening. It is hard to deny the tremendous changes that most of us have seen in our own lifetimes. Even people in their twenties probably remember a time before cell phones and the internet. Seventy years ago there was no television, much less satellites and cable. People listened to phonographs or the radio, if they had electricity. Many people in rural areas didn’t. A little over a hundred years ago there were no cars. If you wanted to go to town, you saddled up your horse, or hitched him to a wagon.

All this is said tongue-in-cheek, of course, we would find a way to survive, but we would have to relearn how to do things the hard way. We’d have to re-learn how to talk to people face to face along with a whole host of other things we’ve lost touch with in this technological age.

Artificial intelligence does probably need a failsafe of some kind for safety purposes, but it is not a moral issue. We may be able to create artificial intelligence, but we have yet to create an artificial soul, spirit, emotions, love…. Artificial intelligence does not think as we do. It does not feel, even if it can be made to seem as if it does. Saying the right words does not emotion make. Of course, if you’ve ever purchased a computer, you know how fast technology changes. It seems that it’s out of date as soon as you get it home.

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