Kaku wrote this in 2003:
Originally Posted by Michio Kaku
Ray Kurzweil’s next book, The Singularity is Near, predicts that possibly within the coming decades, there will be super-intelligence emerging on the planet that will surpass that of humans. What do you think of that idea?
Yes, that sounds interesting. But Moore’s Law will have collapsed by then, so we’ll have a little breather. In 20 years time, the quantum theory takes over, so Moore’s Law collapses and we’ll probably stagnate for a few decades after that. Moore’s Law, which states that computer power doubles every 18 months, will not last forever. The quantum theory giveth, the quantum theory taketh away. The quantum theory makes possible transistors, which can be etched by ultraviolet rays onto smaller and smaller chips of silicon. This process will end in about 15 to 20 years. The senior engineers at Intel now admit for the first time that, yes, they are facing the end.
The thinnest layer on a Pentium chip consists of about 20 atoms. When we start to hit five atoms in the thinnest layer of a Pentium chip, the quantum theory takes over, electrons can now tunnel outside the layer, and the Pentium chip short-circuits. Therefore, within a 15 to 20 year time frame, Moore’s Law could collapse, and Silicon Valley could become a Rust Belt.
This means that we physicists are desperately trying to create the architecture for the post-silicon era. This means using quantum computers, quantum dot computers, optical computers, DNA computers, atomic computers, molecular computers, in order to bridge the gap when Moore’s Law collapses in 15 to 20 years. The wealth of nations depends upon the technology that will replace the power of silicon.
This also means that you cannot project artificial intelligence exponentially into the future. Some people think that Moore’s Law will extend forever; in which case humans will be reduced to zoo animals and our robot creations will throw peanuts at us and make us dance behind bars. Now, that may eventually happen. It is certainly consistent within the laws of physics.
However, the laws of the quantum theory say that we’re going to face a massive problem 15 to 20 years from now. Now, some remedial methods have been proposed; for example, building cubical chips, chips that are stacked on chips to create a 3-dimensional array. However, the problem there is heat production. Tremendous quantities of heat are produced by cubical chips, such that you can fry an egg on top of a cubical chip. Therefore, I firmly believe that we may be able to squeeze a few more years out of Moore’s Law, perhaps designing clever cubical chips that are super-cooled, perhaps using x-rays to etch our chips instead of ultraviolet rays. However, that only delays the inevitable. Sooner or later, the quantum theory kills you. Sooner or later, when we hit five atoms, we don’t know where the electron is anymore, and we have to go to the next generation, which relies on the quantum theory and atoms and molecules.
Therefore, I say that all bets are off in terms of projecting machine intelligence beyond a 20-year time frame. There’s nothing in the laws of physics that says that computers cannot exceed human intelligence. All I raise is that we physicists are desperately trying to patch up Moore’s Law, and at the present time we have to admit that we have no successor to silicon, which means that Moore’s Law will collapse in 15 to 20 years.
Intel already has possible leakage and heat problems with Ivy Bridge and 3D transistors.Edited by Riou - 5/1/12 at 6:56pm