The most recent top 500 list of the world's most powerful computers shows no major changes. World's most powerful computer in Jun 2019
A couple of years ago Oak Ridge National Lab assembled Summit, an IBM system using 2.4 million cores rated at 149 Petaflops. It burns 11.4 MWatts of power. As of today this is the output of a very small power plant. In 1913 the most powerful plant in the world produced 108 MW. So Summit only requires 1/10th of the output of the best power generation technology of the early 20th century.
The stagnant growth of the most powerful system has ended. We are seeing growth, but much slower than the heyday of the early 21st century. Extrapolating the date of a human equivalent system, 1-100 exaflops, shows we could be 15 years or more away from creating a truly sentient machine.
149 petaflops is probably 1% of what is needed to achieve sentience. Are we still headed towards a day when we create a new independent intelligence which requires an entire nuclear power plant to sustain it?
Of course the only way to achieve sentience is to write the programs for it, and then give that collection of AI programs 100% of the platform. But it is highly unlikely that any of these supercomputers will be dedicated to running a single set of programs for the sole purpose of creating a thinking machine. The cost of creating a sentient machine is the dominant limiting factor in the evolution of machine intelligence. The only way it is going to happen is if a corporation or philanthropist dedicated a couple of billions of dollars to build, release, and sustain such a system.
Ray Kurzweil continues to make predictions of the Singularity almost void of financial analysis. So my question for Ray is: who will make the financial commitment to build and sustain a dedicated AI by 2029 with sentience as probably the only output of that system?