Robots More Intelligent Than Humans In 15 Years Says Google's Ray Kurzweil

Normally predictions of robots becoming sentient beings more intelligent than humans can be dismissed as wishful futurology speak.

But when the person talking is Ray Kurzweil - Google's head of engineering - then it pays to take notice.

Kurzweil says artificial intelligence will surpass human intelligence within as little as 15 years.

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In an interview with the Observer, he said: "The public has seen things like Siri (Apple’s voice recognition software), where you talk to a computer. They’ve seen the Google self-driving cars.

"My views are not radical any more."

Kurzweil, 66, certainly has form - he predicted a computer would soon be able to beat a chess champion eight years before IBM's Deep Blue beat Garry Kasparov.

He also realised the potential of the internet when it was just a few computers linked up between a few academics.

Kurzweil still draws a few glances from some circles - he famously takes a cocktail of 150 pills a day in order to stay alive long enough to see technology develop to the point where it can keep him alive forever.

That aside, Google's acquisition recently of a number of robotics companies, particularly Boston Dynamics, shows the tech giant is taking the issue seriously.

Kurzweil is particularly interested in "bringing natural language understanding to Google".

He said: "And my project is ultimately to base search on really understanding what the language means. When you write an article you're not creating an interesting collection of words.

"You have something to say and Google is devoted to intelligently organising and processing the world's information. The message in your article is information, and the computers are not picking up on that.

"So we would like to actually have the computers read."