February 22, 2008

“Blood-Cell Sized” Devices Will Create Virtual Reality by 2033

Renowned futurist Ray Kurzweil predicted this week that computers the size of human blood cells will create fully immersive virtual realities by 2033.   The development of such microscopic computers will be made possible by growth in processing power and the shrinking of technology over time.  

"We will see a billion-fold increase in the price-performance of computers in the next 25 years," he said in a BBC News report.

"Virtual will compete with reality," he told the Game Developers Conference this week in San Francisco.

Mr. Kurzweil said looking at how technology had developed over the last 50 years makes it possible to accurately predict the growth and change in computing power.   

"Today you can put a pea-sized computer inside your brain, if you have Parkinson's disease and want to replace the biological neurons that were destroyed by the disease," he explained.

Mr. Kurzweil said a billion-fold increase in computing performance and capability over the next 25 years coupled with the 100,000 fold shrinking in the size, would lead to the development of "blood cell-size devices... that can go inside our bodies and keep us healthy and inside our brain and expand our intelligence".

He added that these new computers would be able to "produce full immersion virtual reality from inside the nervous system".

Mr. Kurzweil, who invented the flat bed scanner and text-to-speech synthesis, urged the games industry to begin considering future development of computing now.

"The games industry fits in well with the acceleration of progress; in no other industry do you feel that more than games," he told the audience.

"Play is how we principally learn and principally create," he said.

"Games are the cutting edge of what is happening - we are going to spend more of our time in virtual reality environments"¦"¦fully emergent games is really where we want to go. We will do most of our learning through these massively parallel interactions."

Explaining why the virtual world was a misnomer, Mr. Kurzweil said, "In virtual worlds we do real romance, real learning, real business. Virtual reality is real reality."


On the Net:

Ray Kurzweil, Inventor & Futurist

Additional information on this year's Game Developers Conference can be viewed at http://www.gdconf.com/

BBC News