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Artifical Intelligence

The future is… fast

Michio Kaku’s vision for the world of 2050, shared at a Visa event in Dubai last week, includes telepathy and transport transformed, writes ARTHUR GOLDSTUCK.

The world is so transfixed by daily developments in artificial intelligence (AI), little attention is being paid to the myriad technologies that are likely to come next. One person who thinks of nothing else is futurologist Michio Kaku, a professor of theoretical physics at the City College of New York.

Last week, in a keynote address at a conference hosted by Visa in Dubai, targeted at Central and Eastern Europe, Middle East, and Africa (CEMEA), he leaped forward a quarter century, to the world of 2050.

He told the Visa CEMEA Security Summit that, by then, quantum computers will have rendered the very latest digital computers of the 2020s obsolete.

“We will look at the digital computer of today as an antique, replaced by the quantum computer, the same way that we look at the abacus today. We’re now talking about the fact that the computer on your desk, your computer at home, could become junk in five to 10 years.

“We’re talking about the coming of quantum computers: ‘This is a quantum computer.’ It’s the sentence could change world history. The nation which corners the market on quantum computers can dominate the world economy. And there’s a race to see who can build the first workable all-purpose quantum computers.”

He cautioned that the quantum computer itself was not the full story: it would need to be supported by an array of cooling pipes, as such powerful computers have to be cooled down to near absolute zero “to let the magic happen”. Once that becomes feasible, it could eventually dominate the world economy.

“That’s why Google, IBM, Microsoft, all of them, are jumping on the bandwagon.”

Kaku even anticipates a form of telepathy, in which the brain’s electrical signals are converted into messages between people.

“The future of the Internet will be ‘brain-net’. We will communicate with all human knowledge on the internet, mentally; creating new worlds with the power of the human mind.

“Today we’re entering the era of artificial intelligence. We’re talking about new worlds, new occupations, human knowledge digitised so that you have it just for the asking. And this means that every part of our life will be changed, including art. Artists will eventually be able to create images by thinking about them. We can already do this.

“You won’t have these clunky glasses. In the future, you will blink and access all human knowledge. In other words, your contact lens will be connected to the internet, your contact lens will recognise people’s faces, they will always identify who you’re talking to. They will speak any language: you can communicate with other people in any language via your contact lens.”

Combined with the current revolution in AI, this means that everyday activity, ranging from transport to payments, will be transformed.

“Artificial intelligence will be everywhere, and nowhere. You will talk to things and things will talk back to you. Your car will be intelligent. You simply call for your car, your car picks you up, it’s driving itself. You may even argue with your car, because you think you have a better route than the route chosen by your automobile.

“Aeroplanes will be intelligent. For 50 years, air travel hasn’t changed that much hasn’t changed at all. Why? Well, one reason is the Concorde, which was a supersonic transport, exploded. Supersonic transports became obsolete. Nobody wanted a sonic boom overhead.

“But that’s before the computer revolution. Now we can model supersonic air flow. And by modelling that we can reduce the power of a sonic boom. So now all the major manufacturers are looking at models for the next generation of aircraft. Think about it, breakfast in New York, lunch in Tokyo, and then dinner in New York again.”

* Arthur Goldstuck is founder of World Wide Worx, editor-in-chief of Follow him on Twitter and Instagram on @art2gee.

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