Computers and robots will be more intelligent than humans and will be able to learn from experience, crack jokes and even flirt, within 15 years, Google's top expert in artificial intelligence predicts. AP File Photo
Computers and robots will be more intelligent than humans and will be able to learn from experience, crack jokes and even flirt, within 15 years, Google's top expert in artificial intelligence predicts.
Ray Kurzweil, Google's director of engineering, has predicted that by 2029, computers will be cleverer than humans and will be able to understand what we say and tell stories.
Kurzweil, who invented devices such as flatbed scanners, computer programmes that could recognise a typeface, and text-to-speech synthesisers, is known for making bold predictions.
In 1990 Kurzweil predicted that a computer would defeat a world chess champion by 1998 (in 1997, IBM's Deep Blue defeated Garry Kasparov), and he also predicted the future prominence of Internet.
Kurzweil, 66, is recognised by technologists for popularising the idea of "the singularity" - the moment in the future when men and machines will supposedly converge.
For years Kurzweil has been saying that the Turing test - the moment at which a computer will exhibit intelligent behaviour equivalent to that of a human - will be passed in 2029.
"Today, I'm pretty much at the median of what artificial intelligence (AI) experts think and the public is kind of with them," he told 'The Observer'.
"The public has seen things like Siri [the iPhone's voice-recognition technology], where you talk to a computer.
They've seen the Google self-driving cars. My views are not radical anymore," he added.
Google hired Kurzweil at the end of 2012 to work on the company's next breakthrough: an artificially intelligent search engine that knows us better than we know ourselves.
Kurzweil said he is helping to bring natural language understanding to Google.
"My project is ultimately to base search on really understanding what the language means," he said.
"When you write an article, you're not creating an interesting collection of words. You have something to say and Google is devoted to intelligently organising and processing the world's information.
"The message in your article is information, and the computers are not picking up on that. So we would want them to read everything on the web and every page of every book, then
be able to engage in intelligent dialogue with the user to be able to answer their questions," he added.