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February 18th, 2008
On Sunday the BBC ran a story entitled "Machines to match Man by 2029", and by Monday nearly a hundred other websites had followed the BBC's lead. But is there any real truth, beyond the hit-attracting headline?
The BBC story centres on the views of Ray Kurzweil, a 60-year-old inventor, theorist and committed futurist. There's no doubting Kurzweil's intellectual pedigree; he's the owner of 14 honorary doctorates and is credited with the invention of several useful devices, from book reader devices for the blind to synthesizers.
However, what really marks Kurweil out as an interesting character are his views on what he calls the ‘singularity'. This idea or concept was first proposed by the science fiction writer Vernor Vinge in 1993, and has been further refined and expounded upon by Kurzweil in his latest book: The Singularity is Near: When Humans Transcend Biology.
At the heart of this theory is the idea that with science and technology - especially nanotechnology - evolving at breakneck speed, man will eventually be able to fuse himself with machines of the future to create a sort of Borg-like, man-robot hybrid that's vastly more intelligent and capable than man alone.
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