Experts are predicting the coming of something called the technological singularity. In simple terms this refers to two things. First that artificial intelligence that is smarter than humans will be created in the future. And second that this intelligence will sort out problems at a pace that humans cannot.
This change will be so immense, it is being felt by these experts, that humans cannot imagine what the future will be like after the intelligence is created. For example, this intelligence will be able to figure out genetic engineering and solve every problem of disease. Those of us who will be around at this point will be able to live much longer. This intelligence will be able to make itself smarter at a pace that we cannot at the moment imagine.
So when are these developments likely to happen? This is the amazing part. The experts say it will be around 2040, meaning in 24 years. Some think it will happen earlier. Even the experts who are skeptics about the technological singularity do not deny that it will come, they only say it may come slightly later than we imagine.
Already, computers are becoming smarter at a pace which is astonishing. This year, artificial intelligence understood and recreated a Nobel prize winning experiment in under an hour. Also this year, a Google computer beat the human champion of a complex Chinese game called Go. This was not something that was expected because Go has many times more possibilities than chess. It was thought that a machine beating the world champion was far in the future.
There are other changes that arrived this year which were thought to be very far away. For example, self driving cars. The American company Tesla already has this feature on the automobiles it sells in tens of thousands. The car identifies what is around it and can drive at a speed of 100 kmph and also change lanes after sensing what is behind it. A crash in one of these cars killed the driver earlier this year but Tesla says that it has already vastly improved the technology in the last few weeks.
For many of us who are older, these stories about a strange future are not new.