Ray Kurzweil, a leading American inventor and futurist, said that computers and robots would not only be more intelligent than their makers but would be able to understand human behaviour better than we do.
He predicts that by 2029 computers will be able to understand what we say, hold conversations and learn from experience. They will be able to tell jokes and even flirt.
Mr Kurzweil, whose inventions have included scanners, synthesiser keyboards and speech-recognition systems, is known for his bold predictions about technology.
In 1990 he forecast that within a decade a computer would defeat the best human chess player; seven years later the grand master Garry Kasparov was beaten by the computer “Deep Blue”. Mr Kurzweil also forecast the wide use of the internet.
He is known for advocating the idea of “singularity” – a point where human biology and technology will meld into one.