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Why 2020 is a rare window in time that’s hard to see beyond

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A trip from the mall to another time in 1985’s Back to the Future.

Universal Pictures

This story is part of CNET at 25, celebrating a quarter century of industry tech and our role in telling you its story.

In 1995, I was in high school in Colorado, reading a via my family’s dialup AOL account and an ancient desktop PC clone running on a 486 processor. , I can now read, hear and

In another 25 years, if the predictions of some of Silicon Valley’s smartest people come true, we may have the latest CNET news and reviews transmitted directly into our brains, skipping screens altogether. Or we may test the in an immersive VR environment set up by . Or those immersive experiences may become the products themselves, as some of us chose to completely disconnect our consciousness from our biological bodies to live forever as software. 

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Ray Kurzweil is ready to join the Borg.

Singularity Videos/YouTube screenshot by CNET

That last vision comes from the mind of Google’s chief futurist and noted author Ray Kurzweil, who has been predicting for many years now that we’ll reach a technological singularity by the year 2045, when CNET will hopefully be turning 50. 

The singularity is a concept that Kurzweil has popularized over the past couple of decades; the basic idea is that computers and artificial intelligence will become so powerful and so smart that they’ll be able to begin improving themselves without the help of humans. Kurzweil says it then becomes difficult to predict what happens next. 

“By 2045, we’ll have expanded the intelligence of our human machine civilization by a billionfold,” he said in the below Big Think interview from 2009. “That will be singularity, and we borrow this metaphor from physics to talk about an event horizon: It’s hard to see beyond.”