Computing power is something that always has and always will increase exponentially. Even going back in time as little as twenty years, people would find the technology and capabilities of computers today to be simply staggering. And, of course, only the most perceptive of people could have predicted the direction of computing back when a single computer took up an entire room, and could only be entrusted to complete incredibly basic tasks.
Thus, we can certainly expect that decades down the line that computers will be able to do things that are scarcely imaginable today. While we don't yet know what these things are, some experts and soothsayers are always happy to throw their hat in the ring to predict the nature of computing development. This has actually been achieved with some accuracy in the past, and thus it is interesting and informative to look at what experts are saying today.
The news that scientists in laboratories all over the world are attempting to create, and even testing, a new kind of mega-powerful computer has lead to such predictions being made by technology experts. Such a machine would apparently be capable of cracking any code or solving any mathematics problem, while IBM are already predicting that such a machine will be able to hold as much information as there are atoms in the universe.
Only this week the the American author and futurist Ray Kurzweil has been talking about his intention to attempt to stay alive forever using nanobots. Kurzweil believes that the human race is on the verge of a grand transformation in the field of medicine, and that in the future it will be possible for super-intelligent and microscopic robots to be inserted into human-beings and that they will literally kill diseases and heal the body.
When one talks of such vast computing power and immense artificial intelligence being literally inserted into the human body, it is naturally redolent of some of the most powerful and alarmist science-fiction dystopia. One can't help recalling the 'Terminator' universe, in which a super-intelligent and self-aware computer system wipes out virtually the entire human race.
Yet it seems increasingly likely that such mammoth AI and technology will be a plausible reality in the near future. Kurzweil's signature book - 'The Singularity is Near' - investigates a world in which computing power and artificial intelligence have far exceeded that of human intellect, and examines the consequences of such a paradigm shift in technology. Kurzweil concludes that in the future not only will machine intelligence vastly exceed all human intelligence combined, but also that in the future people will increasingly augment their minds and bodies with genetic alterations, nanotechnology, and artificial intelligence.
Such a concept is often referred to as 'trans-humanism' and isn't one that particularly appeals to the majority of human-beings today. But we've seen with many other forms of technology that they are often embraced sooner or later, and once people see the potential benefits of such tech, it might surprise us all how quickly and enthusiastically they are adopted and embraced. The potential for someone to be left behind in a society in which many human-beings can directly access monstrous computing power will be extremely high.
Thus, we should familiarise ourselves with this technology and its potential impact and consequences today. We might not like it, but it's here to stay.