Ray Kurzweil on Ethics & Natural Language Processing

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Ray-Kurzweil on DEMO 2012 stage (19)There was an odd but interesting combination of fireside chats at DEMOFall this year: Ray Kurzweil and Ev Williams both took the stage over the course of the 2.5 day event in Santa Clara, CA.

Kurzweil, known for his work in voice recognition, natural language processing, singularity and future predictions, I’m always curious to hear what he’s going to share, especially when he moves onto the brain.

Says Ray in a response to the question of why natural language processing has taken so long to advance”

 “You have to take a hierarchial approach just like human language – you have to build it that way.”

“We learn things layer by layer and we have to educate our synthetic neocortexes too.”

When you start to dive deep into a discussion about synthetic neocortexes, where do you go from there, particularly when the majority of the audience are Web 2.0 and mobile geeks not scientists or researchers.

Venture Beat’s Matt Marshall interviewed Ray, his next to last stage interview before leaving the DEMO Conferences as producer.

Matt asked about ethics, which was a perfect segway into artificial intelligence. You can’t have a discussion with Ray without artificial intelligence coming up at least once.

 Ray-Kurzweil on DEMO 2012 stage (20)

“Technology has always been a double edged sword,” says Ray. “Just like fire has been used for good and evil, AI can be as dangerous as fire when put in the wrong hands.” He reminded the audience that AI is already widely distributed however and that it’s not just being used in a dark lab in some government building.

And, look how far we’ve come. A kid in Africa now has access to more knowledge and information than the President of the United States did 20 years ago. If that’s not an example of exponential growth, I don’t know what is…

See below for the interview on video.  He talks about mapping the human brain, the continuing evolution of technology and continued rise of artificial intelligence.