GDC KEYNOTE: Futurist Kurzweil predicts coming hardware capabilities

“Developers need to prepare for exponential tech growth”

During his keynote at the Game Developers Conference 2008, ‘futurist’ and inventor Ray Kurzweil has recommended game developers prepare for technology to grow exponentially, not linearly.

A large part of the talk was dedicated to noticing exponential growth in all sorts of different domains, from transistor prices and e-commerce revenues to the growth of the Internet and even the cost of sequencing DNA.

"Even if you look at several different lists of subjective turning points in the history of Earth, they all fit an exponential curve. This kind of clean data looks like it’s the output for some clean function, but it’s actually the combination of the intellects of hundreds of thousands of distinct people."

"People think progression is linear because, at the beginning, linear and exponential growth look the same but they rapidly diverge," he continued. "This applies to game technology too, seeing as it’s only slightly behind supercomputer power. If you’re planning a project that will take over six months, you need to take this dramatic pace into account."

Kurzweil, whose background was originally in artificial intelligence – a field that he lamented was as inaccurately monickered as the ‘games’ industry – also took time to talk about the ‘uncanny valley’, saying that the intelligence behind characters was still so poor that our industry hasn’t even entered the valley yet.

"Language is the key thing, I think," he said. "Turing correctly identified that and based his intelligence test entirely on language. But given that I’ve said the growth is exponential, by the time we’re actually in the valley we won’t be there for long."

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