Singular Prophet

By Mike Hodgkinson
The Sunday Telegraph, September 27, 2009

Edited by Andy Ross

Ray Kurzweil is an inventor. He invented a machine for reading books to the blind, a music synthesizer, and educational software for students with learning difficulties. Since 2005, he has become known as a technology speculator.

Kurzweil, 61, sincerely believes that his own immortality is a realistic proposition. He thinks we will be able to upload the human brain to a computer, capturing "a person's entire personality, memory, skills and history," by 2040. Humans and machines will then merge so effectively that the differences between them will no longer matter. After that, intelligence will start to expand outward into the universe, around about 2045.

The singularity is taken to signify what is unknowable. It suggests that we haven't really got a clue what's going to happen once machines are vastly more "intelligent" than humans. For Kurzweil, it is "a future period during which the pace of technological change will be so rapid, its impact so deep, that human life will be irreversibly transformed".

For Kurzweil, the pace of technology is increasing at an exponential rate, with an exponential growth in the rate of exponential growth. It is this understanding that gives him the confidence to believe that technology will soon surpass the limits of his imagination. He reckons that if he slows down his own ageing process, he'll be around long enough to witness the arrival of technology that will prolong his life forever.

Kevin Kelly calls Kurzweil a "deluded dreamer" who is "performing the services of a prophet".

Humans Immortal by 2040

By Sharon Gaudin
Computerworld, October 1, 2009

Edited by Andy Ross

Ray Kurzweil says that anyone alive in 2040 or so could be close to immortal. Nanobots will flow through human blood streams. A combination of nanotechnology and biotechnology will wipe out cancer, Alzheimer's disease, obesity, and diabetes. Humans will augment their natural cognitive powers and add years to their lives.

People will still be struck by lightning or hit by a bus, but much more trauma will be repairable. If nanobots swim in blood, then wounds could be healed almost instantly. Limbs could be regrown. Backed up memories and personalities could be accessed after a head trauma. Kurzweil says that by 2024 we'll be adding a year to our life expectancy with every year that passes. And in 35 to 40 years, we basically will be immortal.

Kurzweil: "The definition of human is that we are the species that goes beyond our limitations and changes who we are. If that wasn't the case, you and I wouldn't be around because at one point life expectancy was 23. We've extended ourselves in many ways. This is an extension of who we are."