January 05, 2010

Reviewing Kurzweil Predictions from 1999 for 2009

Michael Anissimov notes that Ray Kurzweil had several predictions from 1999 for 2009 and those predictions are in general wrong.

UPDATE: Wikipedia has a more comprehensive list of Ray Kurzweil predictions. Many of those predictions were mostly correct and Ray's trend tracking and projections are more accurate than most projections.

1. Personal computers with high resolution interface embedded in clothing and jewelry, networked in Body LAN’s.

2. The majority of text is created using continuous speech recognition (CSR) software.

3. Computer displays built into eyeglasses project the images directly onto the user’s retinas.

4. In terms of circuitry, three-dimensional chips are commonly used.

5. Translating Telephone technology is commonly used for many language pairs.

6. Warfare is dominated by unmanned intelligent airborne devices. Many of these flying weapons are the size of small birds, or smaller.

7. Intelligent roads are in use, primarily for long-distance travel. Once your car’s computer guidance system locks onto the control sensors on one of these highways, you can sit back and relax

UPDATE: Here is an online review by Ray Kurzweil from the end of 2008 where Ray gives his own spin on his old predictions

I agree with the idea of accountability of predictions. Here is an analysis of specifically where things stand as regards to each of the predictions, so as to retroactively write what a correct prediction would be and rewrite better predictions and determine What will or will not happen/ why or why not and when and how.






1. Personal computers with high resolution interface embedded in clothing and jewelry, networked in Body LAN’s.

This prediction has problems with the personal computer definition and high defintion display aspect. The way it is phrased then it looks like it has be some kind of OLED flex display and a modular computer device. Even when we can do both, then would the interfaces and interaction be to wear the display and the devices ?

This should be possible in 5-8 years if the OLED roadmap is correct. Wearable electronics exist now. My sister has a memory card earring. Roadblocks - Fundamentally not very useful design for a wearable high def display, perhaps has some fad potential. The high def display is showing something to other people. Picoprojectors are about half the volume of an iphone. A high res version of that makes sense and could shrink and be made wearable. A thick bracelet/watchband attachment would work now. Issue is to get the power usage down and battery or other power up or wireless power.

Easily carried - belt clips etc… make sense. As part of clothing ? antennas that need to be big and flat and solar cells etc… yes. but some devices makes no sense in that configuration.

2. The majority of text is created using continuous speech recognition (CSR) software.

This needs the human inputted text caveat. Don’t think it ever happens. the Majority of spoken words could be recorded and CSRd for easier search but typing can be more straightforward for most purposes. I do not see that much value in automatic dictation. The technical inconveniences and inaccuracies should be overcome and it will be done more but I do not see behavior changing that much for using it. Reading lips and subvocalizations would be better so that an alternate form of quiet entry could be used when a keypad is not good for the form factor.

The new Google Nexus One phone lets you talk to fill in search boxes. So speech recog is getting bigger and bigger but the "majority of text"? What generates the majority of text now ? Probably not human input. So if we are only talking human generated text then maybe at some date in the future.

3. Computer displays built into eyeglasses project the images directly onto the user’s retinas.

Computer displays on eyeglasses exist, but are rare. Mostly a few military users.

Again not as useful as some would think. Even if this was a currently available option, seems like a niche product. Overlaying virtual reality via smart display contact lenses etc… Needs more reasons/applications to drive adoption.

4. In terms of circuitry, three-dimensional chips are commonly used.

3D chips are around the question is what is meant by “common”

The first 3-D integrated DRAM memories being shipped (2009): we (Memory Applications, Packaging & Integration Trends 2009 report) estimate that about 20,000 wafers of DRAM memory will be shipped with 3D TSV by the end of 2009, with production moving forward to higher volumes in 2010. By 2013, we expect that telecom and computing industries will drive more than 70% of the volume for 3-D TSV integrated memories.

Silicon through Vias started to emerge in 2007

There is stacked DRAM (3d)

Stacked flash and other stacked cmos is on the way

ADVANCED PACKAGING: 3D IC, WLP & TSV : 3D TSV Interconnects - Devices & Systems 2008 Report : the Equipment Market for 3D-TSV manufacturing tools will rapidly expand above $1 billion by 2013.

The semiconductor market is over $200 billion worldwide.

Gartner expects revenue in the global DRAM industry to increase by 25% next year to US$29.1 billion. Citigroup estimates global memory-chip capital spending will more than double next year to about $14.8 billion as companies upgrade their technology at existing manufacturing facilities. The $1 billion equipment market for 3D-TSV in 2013 might be 5% of a $20 billion semiconductor memory equipment market.

5. Translating Telephone technology is commonly used for many language pairs.

Translating Telephone technology is commonly used for many language pairs.

How often would I need to talk to someone when we did not already speak the same language ? How did I get their phone number ? How often are human translators used ? There are the devices for helping soldiers get out foreign phrases in war zones.


6. Warfare is dominated by unmanned intelligent airborne devices. Many of these flying weapons are the size of small birds, or smaller.

The airforce has completed weaponizing the WASP UAV. It is the size of a falcon. Article from Wired is on my site. so bird size UAVs yes. “Dominate warefare” prediction standard, well that standard could take decades to shift from AK47s and bombs

Pakistan operations are using a lot of UAVs.

WW2 dominated by tank combat and propellor planes and aircraft carriers

Vietnam by helicopters, B52s, and bombs

Iraq War 2 was starting to go towards special forces and lighter warfare under Rumsfeld but that was discredited. Now the trend is to MRAPs. There is UAV and UGV supplementation.

The culture in the Airforce, Army, Marines and Navy and procurement skews toward traditional systems. the active wars and financial drain is putting most funds to resupplying bombs, bullets, making more body armor and MRAP variants. Slightly lighter MRAPs for afghan mountains. Long term procurement contracts still have new fighters and big ships etc…

Hopefully the US and other militaries will not have the reason to actually get efficient. Things stay mainly economic competition instead of shooting wars.

7. Intelligent roads are in use, primarily for long-distance travel. Once your car’s computer guidance system locks onto the control sensors on one of these highways, you can sit back and relax

Some automatic parking, roadtrains - follow a skilled driver with smart control is being developed in Europe and if things go smooth could be deployed in 2020 timeframe. Making highways smart is a lot of infrastructure refresh and will take a lot of testing and development to make sure it works. Years of operation of a smart test section of highway. Then small scale trials. Need to make sure it is foolproof or the lawsuits … Some semi-smart roads would be useful and less challenging. Do not see any deployments of sensors and devices for driver and car assistance. careful and phased deployments need to happen. Masdar City will have automatically driven pods. (about 2015 for a whole city.) More use of robotic vehicles in very large warehouses and factories. there are large controlled grounds where robotic driving can occur first with less challenging conditions. Airports for towing planes. Robotic driving should be done but my hurry up plans and the plans that I see will take many years/decades before any national scale deployments. Phasing in to city centers makes more sense.

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