Michio Kaku Thinks it Will Take 90 years for a Robot to Think like a human
Could a computer the size and capability of IBM's Watson also play chess?
I am sure that it could be programmed to beat Deep Blue at Chess. After all, it is 13 years
later and the technology has moved to the point where a top-end PC can beat any human
Is the human who is chess champion over all other humans also good at playing Jeopardy!?
No, what is your point?
Well, when a computer is only good at doing one thing, you call it Narrow Artificial
Intelligence, but when a human is only good at one thing, you state that she has
Yes, that is correct. We say that mostly because the human can also button her blouse
and walk across the room. Can your Watson do that?
Well, we have computers that drive robots that can walk and talk and other computers
which can play chess and Jeopardy! Basically, all that is needed is to combine these
various computer programs into one computer such as Watson and then provide a full
humanoid robot front end. If the resulting robot can play chess and Jeopardy as well
as fold laundry and play a trumpet, then most humans would start to see a glimpse of
What is that human doing over there?
Let us listen in.
Well, Mildred, I was walking my dog this morning and I saw Mr. Smith talking to Mrs Jones.
Do you suppose that there is something going on between the two of them?
Middred: I don't know, but if there is it would be quite shocking. Did I tell you that my
dog threw up on my carpet this morning?
No, which carpet? Will it cause a stain?
What is that IBM Watson doing right now? Let us ask this computer programmer.
Computer Programmer: Well, we have Watson playing chess against himself and he
is trying to develop new heuristics for noticing which patterns are stronger for which
side given the way that the chess game turns out.
That is great, but can it talk to the neighbor about the dog tossing up?
Let us talk to this human engineer over here and find out what he is doing.
First, we are planning on phase change memory. Picture a grid of wires on a layout of one wire
every 3 nanometers. On a surface which is 2 centimeters by 2 centimeters, we can lay down 6
million wires horizontally and then vapor deposit the phase change material. Then we lay down
another 6 million wires but vertically this time. Now you have an array of phase change devices
which contain 36 quadrillion devices, each of which can store at least 1 bit of information, maybe
up to 16 as we improve our techniques of reading and writing.
How many bytes would such an array contain?
That would be 4.5 terabytes of information if we assume only 1 bit of information per device.
How much information is that?
Consider the printed literature in the Library of Congress; we used to estimate the contents at 4
terabytes back in 1980. Now that they have started to collect digital works on computer
memories, I have lost track.
So, you are saying that a one-layer chip of the type that you are describing will basically hold a
copy of every book that was ever printed anywhere on earth.
Well, you didn't ask me how many layers we will have per chip.
Okay, how many layers do you plan to have per chip by 2016?
By then, we should have at least 16 layers.
Can you expect to have more than one percent of the chips that you produce to be without
defects? Certainly with such a yield, the resultant chips will be quite expensive. What do you
expect the price to be per chip?
Actually we expect over 90% yield on the devices simply because we don't plan on perfection at
all. We will only use the working rows and columns of the array. If 90% of the chips have more
than 90% of the rows and 90% of the columns working, we will consider that the chip works.
So, each chip may only hold 12 times the number of books ever written?
By 2016 we expect to be able to sell each device for $400. Eventually the price will come down,
So, by 2020, each high end laptop could have every scientfic journal article and book ever
printed or electronically distributed.
And all of the music ever recorded as well.
But won't the chip overheat with all of those memory devices?
Certainly not. The devices are passive and do not require any power unless they are being
accessed. We will simply keep the information in ram and write it to the device at a slow enough
rate to prevent overheating. Reading the device takes very little power.
What other use might you have for such a device?
Your Amazon Kindle could come with every book in their library already stored in the device.
That would only take a single layer device which might cost only $5.
That would eliminate the need for 3G connectivity, wouldn't it?
Yes. Every time you would have your Kindle near your home Wi-Fi, it could automatically
download any newly published books that you would be likely to purchase.
I see. Since I can only read so many books anyway, might there be a smorgasborg version
where I subscribe to read every book available on Kindle for let's say $8 per month like my
Sounds likely that you will have such an option by 2020.
Talk to the engineer over there. He is working on organic spintronic devices which should store
even more information.
Since we have proved that reduced instruction set computers can run off of lower
voltages and stay cooler, we must work on creating multi-layer integrated circuits so
that we can take advantage of the third dimension like the human brain does.
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