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Kurzweil: Brains will extend to the cloud

Johanna Ambrosio | Oct. 4, 2012
Futurist and computer pioneer Ray Kurzweil says it will be possible to 'repurpose' human brains to learn new things.

Other DEMO news

Of around 90 companies and products launching at DEMO Fall 2012, a good number of these are related to big data, cloud computing, infrastructure and new ways to recruit and hire candidates. Others are social-networking and consumer plays, or other types of corporate tools.

Some of the highlights in various categories include:

Big data

  • Bella Dati: A reporting tool that turns sales, marketing, production or financial data into visualized reports and dashboards. Analyze, share data, or embed it into your apps. Works on a Web browser or mobile device.
  • Talksum Data Stream: For processing data streams in real time. Features include ingest, filtering, monitoring and routing.


  • Opal Brainstorms: Allows employees to offer new ideas, enables collaboration across various regions and business units, and creates a dedicated space to refine, merge and synthesize ideas into "actionable outcomes."
  • Solstice: Multiple people using a range of devices can collaborate and share content on one or more displays. Can move content from one screen to another.
  • Prezentarium: Helps deliver presentations and allows the presenter to interact with members of the audience. People can share feedback and ask questions, and share the presentation via their social networks.
  • Lifebeat: Unified communications that combine under one interface on your smartphone all your communication channels (voice, text, email) with your contacts.
  • Learn27: Allows companies to create a virtual academy and start delivering courses.
  • Allows experts to share expertise and get paid.

To really work like a human brain, artificial intelligence (AI) tools need to be built hierarchically, like a brain. "And then you have to educate the synthetic neocortex" as we do with newborn babies, he explained. That's what Watson's achievement was -- an educated brain extender, up to a point.

As with many other things, AI has the ability to be misused in the wrong hands, Kurzweil acknowledged. "Is fire a good thing? It keeps us warm and cooks our food, but it's also used to burn down our villages.

"If it turns on you, you need to get even smarter AI."

But, he said, "I think we could take comfort with how we've done with software viruses." Although these viruses have become increasingly sophisticated over time, "we have an evolving technological immune system that's kept up with it, more or less. You can have arguments about it, but I think it's working."


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