The idea of superintelligent machines may sound like the plot of a sci-fi movie, but many experts say that the idea isn't far-fetched.
Some even think the singularity -- the point at which artificial intelligence can match, and then overtake, human smarts -- might happen in just 16 years, Discovery News reported.
But nearly every computer scientist will have a different prediction for when and how the singularity will happen.
Some believe in a utopian future, in which humans can transcend their physical limitations with the aid of machines.
But others think humans will eventually relinquish most of their abilities and gradually become absorbed into artificial intelligence (AI)-based organisms, much like the energy making machinery in our own cells.
In his book 'The Singularity is Near: When Humans Transcend Biology' (Viking, 2005), futurist Ray Kurzweil predicted that computers will be as smart as humans by 2029, and that by 2045, "computers will be billions of times more powerful than unaided human intelligence," Kurzweil wrote in an email to LiveScience.
"My estimates have not changed, but the consensus view of AI scientists has been changing to be much closer to my view," Kurzweil wrote.
Bill Hibbard, a computer scientist at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, doesn't make quite as bold a prediction, but he's nevertheless confident AI will have human-level intelligence some time in the 21st century.
While AI can trounce the best chess or Jeopardy player and do other specialized tasks, it's still light-years behind the average 7-year-old in terms of common sense, vision, language and intuition about how the physical world works, Ernest Davis, a computer scientist at New York University said.