Are we heading towards the Singularity?

Imagine what will happen if we robots can process information, store data and transfer the same at a pace at which humans do, will they not be as good as humans? Just to let you know we will touch on one aspect in this article (Quantum Computing) which takes care of processing information, however there is tremendous progress already made to store information like our DNA and also transmit the same like our nervous system does.

Even the smartest creatures on Earth, our journey from the analogue to the digital world has been at a tremendous pace in the past decades.

There was a time, a few decades ago, when the invention of the electronic calculator marked a major breakthrough in the world of technology. The transformational advancements of processing information since then have been remarkable. Undoubtedly, we have come a long way with smartphones, wearable and smart devices, shifting from ‘press the keys’ to ‘touch, swipe and speak’.

With Artificial Intelligence (AI), Virtual Reality (VR), Internet of Things (IoT) and Metaverse being technological realities today, we are also heading towards a new era of data & computation called quantum computing.

Now, What’s That?

Well, quantum computing is a futuristic technology which employs the power of quantum mechanics for solving extremely complex problems that are beyond the capacity of classical computers. To define it simply, this computer-based technology functions around the principles of quantum theory where behaviors of matter and energy are studied on the atomic and subatomic levels.

Supercomputers designed on quantum theory consume comparatively less energy while operating at an exponentially higher speed.

  • Few years back, the quantum computer of Google, Sycamore, took less than 4 minutes for a calculation that the most powerful computer in the world would take 10,000 years.
  • Also, Google’s computer is around 158 million times ahead of the world’s fastest supercomputer in terms of speed.

This quantum computer implements the laws of quantum mechanism for such complex calculation which are far beyond human comprehension.

Tech titans envision that humans will be accelerated into the future by quantum computing through its impact on data analytics and artificial intelligence. Its massive speed and power shall help us crack even the complex challenges that we, human beings, face.

In the Next Decades, What If I Say That Robots Can Become a Challenge to the Humans?

If that’s going to happen, it would be for AI and quantum technology. Scientists have already started to research on bridging the two avenues – quantum physics having its strong algorithms and artificial intelligence coupled with autonomous machines. They are investigating the ways to use quantum technology for the advantage of learning robots. So far, the results show that robots can decide faster.

#Case Study:

A team of experimental physicists led by Philip Walther from The University of Vienna collaborated with theorists from the German Aerospace Center, the Austrian Academy of Sciences and the University of Innsbruck. Together, for the first time, they succeeded in proving the increase in actual learning time of a robot. Their experiment included the use of fundamental particles of light, single photons and integrated photonic quantum processor. The researchers implemented learning tasks by using this processor as a robot. The result showed a significant reduction in the learning time, compared to the ‘no quantum physics’ cases.

Hence, artificial intelligence devices that are integrated with quantum computing are capable of self-correction and learning through experience, much like humans.

Sounds interesting? Let me make it more intriguing for you.

As the speed of quantum computing is significantly higher than the traditional machines, this could result in quantum robots if rapid responses are recorded. Such robots are envisioned to be highly advanced and way more sophisticated, with unparalleled capabilities of multitasking. Not just that, but they will also be able to fully examine and adapt to various environments for survival, becoming independently more creative and data processing at a greater speed.

Scientists also believe that the concept of technological singularity will be possible, which means machines will be more progressive and smarter than humans.

Upcoming: Robots with Human Intelligence

Yes! You read that right.

Plans are already on to build robots that would share similar values ​​as well as rights like us. They will have the ability to understand the world like humans, have the same feelings as well as emotional spectrum. Such human-like technology will profoundly change our relationship with technology and the world around us.

What next?

Remember the movie titled ‘Transcendence’? The protagonist uploads his consciousness into quantum computer and outsmarts death! Well, what you might have thought to be unrealistic then may not be so today. Popular predictions say that humans will soon become transhumans through the concept of virtual or digital immortality. We already have a quantum computer among us, although not a consumer product, but commercially available.

How would this technology make it happen?

Well, going back to its definition again, quantum computers use quantum bits or qubits. These tiny physical objects help them cope with highly complex problems and extremely large volumes of data in less than a second. Hence, storing a human’s memories and personality would be an effortless job for the quantum computers.

Recent breakthroughs show that narrow AI can perform certain tasks much better than humans. It won’t be surprising to say that artificial intelligence will emulate the human skill, ie responding to various tasks, and thereby, put our race at a challenge in the future.

Coming back to digital immortality, it is a theoretical concept of transferring and storing an individual’s consciousness into a robot, a virtual body or a computer. The required technology with appropriate hardware for this transfer is expected to arrive soon in this decade, although several milestones are needed to be achieved yet.

Digital Immortality: How far are we?

Once a person’s consciousness is uploaded, it can be stored in two different ways:

  • By transferring the data to a cloud-service:

From there, it can easily interact with the physical as well as the virtual worlds. The fascinating result would be that the person’s consciousness will remain alive in a virtual space for thousands and thousands of years to come. That’s not all. He can also travel to various virtual worlds and download content for an enriched experience. Being still alive, he can work with his own digital clones to accomplish essential jobs in real life faster.

  • By having entirely new bodies:

Quite a far future though, the second instance says human beings will possibly grow or build completely new bodies. While models may vary with the type of technology used, the least expensive one could be machine-like or robotic in appearance.

Fast forwarding many decades from today, we might have these machines as highly expensive synthetic bodies similar to the real human bodies using several hi-tech features to enhance their mental and physical capabilities. Moving thousands of years further, the world might have so advanced synthetic bodies that their capabilities would probably exceed our wildest imaginations today. If necessary, new versions of these bodies can also come up.

According to the predictions of renowned futurist, Ray Kurzweil, uploading the human mind would be possible in the next quarter century, although perfection might need a lot of time.

In a major breakthrough in research a year ago, one of the most complex organs, eyes of mice, were reprogrammed in a lab. If a human goes blind when older, he/she never recovers the vision. Hence, the experiment was done on one-year old mice using gene therapy where their retinas were turned to be young again. Three out of the four reprogramming factors were implemented. Scientists successfully reversed aging in their retinas taking those backwards to around two months old in age. The mice could clearly see everything again much, like they saw when young. Additionally, the system can be turned on and off whenever required. Scientists confirmed that this can be done with any tissue to reverse aging, not going back too far though.

Probably, the concept of death will disappear in a century or so owing to the dynamic evolution of technology. Humans will just be moving from one body to another, with their memory and consciousness stored in the form of data.

To say so, it’s just the beginning for us to understand what possibilities artificial intelligence has. Every new and successful experiment, thus, adds to the development of the scope of quantum computing. IBM believes that quantum computing will become the mainstream technology in probably the next 5 years. At this point, can we look back to our mythology and sum up that our culture has been talking about it since eons?

Food for thought:

In simple terms, ‘History’ for which we don’t have documented proof is called ‘Mythology’. Do you think we will need to document or even speak 100 years from now? We have already moved from paper documents to speaking in a mic and recording the artifacts, why is it not possible to just transfer thoughts from one person (robot) to another without any speech or text?