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Army science conference speaker forecasts replacement of computers by 2010

By 2010, computers will be replaced by electronics so tiny they can be embedded in clothing or eyeglasses and broadcast on the human retina, a noted inventor predicted at the Army Science Conference.

Dr. Ray Kurzweil, creator of the first synthesizer, inventor of the first commercially marketed large-vocabulary speech recognition machine and winner of the $500,000 Lemelson-MIT Prize for invention and innovation, also foresaw the introduction of realistic 3-D holographic projection and machines that instantly translate the spoken word from one language to another.

His presentation Nov. 29 capped off the first day of the 24th Army-sponsored biennial conference, sponsored by the United States Army, to explore how transformational science is transforming our world and the Soldier fighting force. Senior Army leaders, industry experts and noted academia joined together here to build collaborative relationships and develop the technologies and capabilities that will be the hallmark of the future force.

Technological advance has incredible potential to improve the warfighting effort, Kurzweil said. New virtual technologies will reduce – and in many ways, are already reducing – the time it takes to develop new combat systems, he said.

Miniaturization, or the process of condensing more powerful technologies into smaller packages, will help the Army create more and better unmanned machines that remove Soldiers from dangerous combat situations. Some fighting will be done by remote control, Kurzweil said.

Today we have smart bombs, but tomorrow we may have smart bullets, he added.

Human knowledge of information technology, computer technology and health science is doubling annually, Kurzweil said. In nearly every area, we are experiencing exponential growth in knowledge.

This knowledge does not only have military applications; its possibilities across the spectrum of human existence are astounding, he said.

Kurzweil offered the example of genetics. It took 15 years to sequence the HIV virus, the cause of AIDS, but it took only 31 days to sequence the SARS virus. This knowledge allows scientists to explore gene suppression, a possible key to unlocking a cure for dozens of diseases, he said.

“There are new drugs… kind of like smart weapons, that zero in on specific targets with no side effects,” Kurzweil said.

Another example is the development of instantaneous language translation devices, which Kurzweil predicted will be common on cellular telephones by the end of the decade.

“Within a few years, we will be able to talk to anyone, regardless of language,” he said.

Because of the importance of technology, the threat to the military and economic dominance of the United States lies in the decline of Americans pursuing careers in fields such as engineering and natural science.

Kurzweil admitted while technology will solve many problems we face today, a utopia is not on the horizon. He concedes this development will unlock new problems we do not fully understand today.

Commissioned by Claude M. Bolton, Jr., Assistant Secretary of the Army for Acquisition, Logistics and Technology, the conference has two focuses: to discuss the current state of technology and how it is being used to support the Global War on Terror; and to forecast how emerging technologies will be harnessed in the future.
Thanks to HerbertNerd.


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