Ray Kurzweil and Neil Gershenfeld: Two Paths to the Singularity

Why both scientists believe we are on the event horizon of a technological singularity

3 min read

This is part of IEEE Spectrum's SPECIAL REPORT: THE SINGULARITY

MIT professor Neil Gershenfeld and technology futurist Ray Kurzweil have long worked at the leading edges of physical science and computer science. Today, in their own ways, both believe that we are on the event horizon of a technological singularity. But they arrived at this conclusion from two very different directions, discovered one child prodigy who has both of these luminaries as mentors.

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The Future of Deep Learning Is Photonic

Computing with light could slash the energy needs of neural networks

10 min read
Image of a computer rendering.

This computer rendering depicts the pattern on a photonic chip that the author and his colleagues have devised for performing neural-network calculations using light.

Alexander Sludds
DarkBlue1

Think of the many tasks to which computers are being applied that in the not-so-distant past required human intuition. Computers routinely identify objects in images, transcribe speech, translate between languages, diagnose medical conditions, play complex games, and drive cars.

The technique that has empowered these stunning developments is called deep learning, a term that refers to mathematical models known as artificial neural networks. Deep learning is a subfield of machine learning, a branch of computer science based on fitting complex models to data.

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