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March 3rd, 2008
Ray Kurzweil thinks the future of our society hinges on video games.
The 60-year-old futurist, best knows for his hypothesis of technological singularity, told a crowd of 2,000 video game developers last week at the Game Developers Conference in San Francisco that he thinks games are on the cutting edge.
"Games are a harbinger of everything," said Mr. Kurzweil min his keynote address. "In twenty years, games will have taken over the world and everything will be virtual reality."
By 2010, Kurzweil said, computers will begin to disappear. "They will disappear into our clothing and bodies," he explained. Big screens will be replaced with personal monitors built into eyeglasses and even contact lenses. He expects "full-immersion" games early in the next decade which will take place in true virtual reality. The problem, said Kurzweil, is that we need to figure out how to make sure people in virtual worlds don't forget that they are also interacting with the real world, something that is already a problem with some Wii games. We'll have to "enforce reality," maybe "by having a window to the real world in the virtual reality world."
A more eloquent solution to that problem will come about by 2029, said Kurzweil, when nanotechnology will be able to shut down the signals our brain receives from the real environment to enable us to respond only to signals from the virtual reality of our choice. This will be possible because of what Kurzweil called "an intimate merger." Computers will have human-level intelligence and the reverse engineering of the human brain will be complete. Game characters, said Kurzweil, will benefit from our having "complete models of all regions of the human brain and the means to simulate human intelligence."
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