"In the coming decades, humanity will likely create a powerful artificial intelligence. The Singularity Institute for Artificial Intelligence (SIAI) exists to confront this urgent challenge, both the opportunity and the risk."
7 similarly structured recent interviews with leading thinkers about (enthusiasts for?) artificial intelligence have been published on the SIAI web site. Each is available as a video, downloadable video or audio, and, most helpfully, as a transcript. Interviewees range from confident to quite cautious about the imminence of the "singularity" that will result from the creation of a smarter-than-human artificial intelligence, with Google's Peter Norvig at the cautious end of the spectrum. Scan reading the transcripts gives you a good sense of the spread of opinion. If this kind of thing interests you, then this 15 page summary [1.3 MB PDF] of the issues surrounding the singularity, from which the extract below is taken, is worth reading.
"The Singularity is the technological creation of smarter-than-human intelligence. Several technologies are often mentioned as heading in this direction: Artificial Intelligence, direct brain-computer interfaces, biological augmentation of the brain, genetic engineering, and ultra-high-resolution scans of the brain followed by computer emulation. Some of these technologies seem likely to arrive much earlier than the others, but there are nonetheless several independent technologies all heading in the direction of the Singularity – several different technologies which, if they reached a threshold level of sophistication, would enable the creation of smarter-than-human intelligence. A future that contains smarter-than-human minds is genuinely different in a way that goes beyond the usual visions of a future filled with bigger and better gadgets. Vernor Vinge originally coined the term “Singularity” in observing that, just as our model of physics breaks down when it tries to model the singularity at the center of a black hole, our model of the world breaks down when it tries to model a future that contains entities smarter than human."