Yesterday at NYU‘s Jurow Lecture Hall, Paul Horn spoke to an audience of students and faculty about “The Co-Evolution of Humans and Machines.” Horn, former Senior VP and executive director of research of IBM, is NYU’s senior vice provost for research. Horn contributed and oversaw the development of the world’s first copper chip, strained silicon, and BlueGene, the world’s fastest supercomputer. Horn discussed the fact and fiction of singularity through discussing human and technological evolution. Horn said, “We are at the verge of an intelligence explosion, and often humans get left in the dust.”
The discussion began with the biological evolution of humans and its exponential growth. His theme throughout was aimed at the complexity of evolution in both humans and machines. “We are on the verge of being in a time when there are machines that will have intelligence which is greater than that of all humans. When I say intelligence, I am talking about all intelligent activity. Machines that can truly supersede humans in all intellectual activity.”
Horn sited Ray Kurweil, who is known for laying the foundation for singularity. The culmination of Horn’s lecture came when he discussed the intersection of human and machine intelligence. To support this argument, Horn calculated the storage and power of the human brain and compared it to that of a super computer. He concluded that there will be an intersection between human and machine intelligence in the “not so distant future.” Horn’s final argument touched on the convergence of technology worldwide. He noted, “Technology is how human minds open up and explore the space of possibilities…Technology is rapidly accelerating evolution, but by how much? How fast will it occur?” Horn suggests that the optimist in him believes that humans and machines are on a path of similar evolution.