Kurzweil responds to Newsweek

A recent Newsweek article on Kurzweil seems to have been something of a hack job, judging from this reply:

… For example, of the many accurate predictions for the year 2009 that I wrote in my book The Age of Spiritual Machines, written in the late 1990s, only three are listed in the sidebar “Kurzweil’s Crystal Ball” while a larger number are listed as “false.” Of these “false” predictions, a number are in fact true, and others are only a few years away. For example, “Computers will be commonly embedded in clothing and jewelry” is listed as false. When I wrote this prediction, portable computers were large heavy devices carried under your arm. Today they are indeed embedded in shirt pockets, jacket pockets, and hung from belt loops. Colorful iPod nano models are worn on blouses as jewelry pins, health monitors are woven into undergarments, there are now computers in hearing aids, and there are many other examples.

“Most portable computers will not have keyboards” is listed as “False.” When I wrote this, every portable computer had an (alphanumeric) keyboard. Today the majority of portable computers such as MP3 players, cameras, phones, game players and many other varieties do not have keyboards. The full quote of my prediction makes it clear that I am referring to computerized devices that “make phone calls, access the web, monitor body functions, provide directions, and provide a variety of other services.”

“The deaf will commonly use portable speech-to-text machines to ‘hear’ what others are saying” is not true today, but sophisticated voice-recognition software that works on anyone’s voice is in wide use (using my own technologies) and speech recognition suitable for use by the deaf are technically feasible now and expected on the market in the near future.

Lyons cites my prediction that “by 2009 a top supercomputer would be capable of performing 20 petaflops (quadrillion operations per second)” and dismisses my contention that this and a couple of other predictions are “off by a few years” saying they are “not just a little bit wrong, but wildly, laughably wrong.” Yet IBM’s 20 petaflop Sequoia supercomputer is already under construction and IBM has announced that it will begin operation in 2012.

Lyons dismisses my accurate prediction (written in the mid to late 1980s) of a world web of computing and communications ubiquitously tying together people with each other and with vast information resources. …

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