I read the Singularity is near a few years ago and thought it was really mind provoking. In this book Kurzweil argues two main things (or at least mine major takeways):
a) development of tech is exponential and thus we cant really imagine what is just around the corner
b) the natural next step of human development is the convergence between man and machine.
Now, most people I speak to about this subject are pretty skeptical. Either they dont believe that the technology will develop that quickly – or they dont believe that people will adapt and feel confetable with such a close relationship with non organic enhancements to the body. What I dont think they notice is how quickly this new form of interaction between man and computer is happing. Just over the last two years a few core product developments has made me think that Kurzweil vision will happen.
It started with the fingerprint scanner on laptops. Little notice did it get, but it was really the first step in reinventing interfacing with computers for the mass market. Via the fingerprint, a user could communicate their identity quicker than via keyboard and mouse. It was easy and convenient and most users found it quite intuitive. Since then several of the airports I fly to now offers eye scans as a quick way to make sure that you are allowed in the country. It makes my life easier and so I and many others do it. Next step in the consumer segment was the iPhone, that educated the mass market that touching your phone, tapping pictures and turning it around to see a picture differnetly format was really much more intuative. What is really happening is that the computer is adapting to humas. Its the art of warpping technology around human behavior and interaction.
In the meantime the military is already flying planes and doing operations with robotic arms 1000s of miles away from where the human are controlling these. Security companies are operating ‘biochips‘ into the body of their employees and the always clever people at MIT are taking mobile computing and user interfaces to the next level. (this video of what MIT is up to is a must see: http://www.ted.com/talks/view/id/481 )
So, for me at least, its clear that the path to a much closer relationship between technology and users have already begun. While I understand that people get concerned about the concept, I think steps mentioned above shows that its actually not that scary and makes our life easier, safer and more enjoyable.