When Computers Are Smarter Than Humans

We all know that computers are already smarter than humans in certain areas: chess, Jeopardy. According to Ray Kurzweil, “The Singularity is Near.” He predicts that computers will equal human intelligence around 2020 and the singularity will occur around 2045. This is the point in time when there will be no distinction between human and machine. I believe him. He makes a good case. I also think that it is good that he puts an optimistic slant on his future vision. In a sense we create our own worlds. I chose to believe in love and hope. I chose to be optimistic.

I just got back from a good presentation on Microinteractions by Dan Saffer in downtown Portland. It made me think about the scene when Star Trek goes back into the 20th century. Scotty tries to talk to the computer and the computer does not communicate back. Someone hands Scotty a mouse and Scotty says, “Oh yes, of course.” He then uses the mouse as a microphone and says, “Computer …”

No reply.

Now, I may ask Siri, “Siri, who discovered Penicillin?” She takes me to a web page. Alexander Fleming, of course.


Microinteractions will involve more and more natural language processing. Computers will eventually become much much smarter than humans. However, I’m not quite sure how all of this will unfold. It seems that people are becoming more and more dependent on computers. That phone, tablet, or desktop are all computers that people are staring at. People are walking around in a trance staring at their small computers. They are attached. They fall onto oncoming train tracks, walk into fountain pools while entranced with their small computers.

You put your hand under the faucet and expect the computer to give you a little water…


“I’m sorry, Dave, I’m afraid I can’t do that.”