On a subject so overwhelming it may well be unbelievable!
Picture a warm, witty Woody Allen crossed with Einstein and you have Ray Kurzwei l–otherwise described in a Smith Center press release as “…one of the world’s leading inventors, thinkers, and futurists, with a thirty-year track record of accurate predictions. Called “the restless genius” by The Wall Street Journal and “the ultimate thinking machine” by Forbesmagazine, Kurzweil was selected as one of the top entrepreneurs by Inc. magazine, which described him as the “rightful heir to Thomas Edison.” PBS selected him as one of the “sixteen revolutionaries who made America.”
Kurzweil was the principal inventor of the first CCD flat-bed scanner, the first omni-font optical character recognition, the first print-to-speech reading machine for the blind, the first text-to-speech synthesizer, the first music synthesizer capable of recreating the grand piano and other orchestral instruments, and the first commercially marketed large-vocabulary speech recognition.
Among Kurzweil’s many honors, he is the recipient of the NationalMedal of Technology and was inducted into the National Inventors Hall of Fame. He also holds nineteen honorary Doctorates, and honors from three U.S. presidents.
Ray has written seven books, five of which have been national best-sellers. The Singularity is Near and Ray’s latest book, How to Create a Mind, have been New York Times Bestsellers.
Ray was recently appointed as Director of Engineering at Google.”
As they say, that’s the tip of the iceberg! I prepared for Dr. Kurzweil’s Sunday evening Smith Talk by studying many TED-X, YouTube and scholarly articles that have topics Ray is associated with: Accelerated and Artificial Intelligence, Reverse Engineering of Mind, Singularity, Futurist Forecasts, Biological Enhancement, life Extension (potentially immortal!) and more (quite a lot of time spent for one press ticket).
The best way to serve my readership is with direct quotes from technical journals (references cited so you may go to them) in addition to notes from his lecture. My unscientific musings are at the end. I have inserted (!) where I felt you might want to read again.
Technological Singularity from Wiki:
(“Rapture of the nerds” redirects here(!)(I just had to leave that line intact).
…”technological singularity is the theoretical emergence of superintelligencethrough technological means. Since the capabilities of such intelligence would be difficult for an unaided human mind to comprehend, the technological singularity is seen as an occurrence beyond which events cannot be predicted..this term was coined by mathematician John von Neumann, who in the mid-1950s (!) spoke of “ever accelerating progress of technology and changes in the mode of human life, which gives the appearance of approaching some essential singularity in the history of the race beyond which human affairs, as we know them, could not continue!”
…”Many of the most recognized writers on the singularity, such as Vernor Vinge and Ray Kurzweil, define the concept in terms of the technological creation of superintelligence, and argue that it is difficult or impossible for present-day humans to predict what a post-singularity would be like, due to the difficulty of imagining the intentions (!) and capabilities of superintelligent entities!” (exclamation points mine).
(Ok…I’m a clown… I can’t help but consider the series The Matrix!)
And from Singularity University:
“Singularity University was jointly founded by Dr. Peter H. Diamandis and Dr. Ray Kurzweil. The concept of a new university that could leverage the power of exponential technologies to solve humanity’s grand challenges was proposed by Diamandis to Kurzweil and to International Space University colleagues Dr. Robert D. Richards and Michael Simpson in April 2007. An exploratory meeting was held at NASA Research Park, Moffett Field in November 2007, followed in September 2008 by a Founding meeting also hosted at NASA!”
“…With the support of a broad range of specialists in academia, business and government, Singularity University creates a global network of like-minded entrepreneurs, technologists and young leaders to participate in crafting a road map to guide the evolution of these disruptive (!) technologies. SU helps create solutions and applications of these technologies for the benefit of humanity through its Graduate Studies and Executive Programs. SU is based at the NASA Research Park campus in the heart of Silicon Valley.”
From PBS’ Tania Lombroso
“What Should WE Worry About in 2013″
…” Many worried about the impact of technology on individual minds and human relationships…and a neurobiologist…worries about “the growing gap between the scientific elite and the vast ‘scientifically challenged’ majority.”…”we have no perceptual apparatus, nor circuitry for alarm, that tunes us to the dangers we now face as a species…” (from these rapidly merging super-technologies…)
From, “Big Think: Smarter Faster” (!) “Researchers at European Bioinformatics Institute near Cambridge, UK, have sketched workable plans to encode hard data onto strands of human DNA, rather than use the magnetic tape or hard disks used by computers. “[The system] should, think the researchers, be easily capable of swallowing the roughly 3 zettabytes (a zettabyte is one billion trillion or 10²¹ bytes) of digital data thought presently to exist in the world and still have room for plenty more. It would do so with a density of around 2.2 petabytes (10¹⁵) per gram; enough, in other words, to fit all the world’s digital information into the back of a lorry.”
(Oh good, “no more pencils, no more books, no more teachers’ dirty looks…”)
From Wiki on the relatively rapid disappearance of (the likely more peaceful and cooperative) Neanderthals: ….”Hypotheses on the fate of the Neanderthals include a failure or inability to adapt to climate change, competitive exclusion, or genocideby encroaching anatomically modern humans (AMH), who arrived in Europe long after Neanderthals had settled there…Neanderthal hybridization with early modern human populations is also considered a viable hypothesis, and there is genetic evidence to support the idea that this occurred to some extent…”
(Oh good, Fatal Attraction!)
And finally, I highly suggest you Google-search the 8:20-minute, super-produced “YouTube Anonymous Singularity Project 2013!!!”
From Las Vegas Weekly, Mark Adams’ interview: …”(The brain) … is a very elaborate network. We’re beginning to be able to have interventions that really do treat the brain as a very delicate circuit. We have neural implants…Ultimately we can send computers into the brain without surgery by sending them in through the bloodstream…!”
(Ah, it’s going to be a blood-bot!)
From Playboy Interview by Robert Levine: “…in 25 years we’ll be more nonbiological than biological…how will that change the way we look at what it means to be human?…are you saying love can be reduced to calculations? (note RK doesn’t answer that)…On life extension, “…the third bridge…nanotechnology…go beyond biology altogether…I don’t think we need death to give life (as we know it!) meaning…I believe we will master (these coming realities!) within 15 years!…”
Levine then asks, “what will sex be like in 25 years?”
Ray Kurzweil replies: “…by 2020 we will have perfected virtual reality that can be delivered outside the body…we’ll have images written on our retinas…full immersion…the whole idea of what it means to have a sexual relationship will be different…nanobots shutting down signals from your senses and replacing them with signals from…a virtual environment…you could be someone else…a couple could turn themselves into each other…” !
(Oh good this writer can be a Transformer Cartoon!)
And from PBS Need To Know,
Lauren Feeney: “You have a very optimistic view of the future; eccentric, even. You believe that eventually we’ll be able to live forever, and maybe even bring people back from the dead. How would that growth in population affect the environment?…”
“Kurzweil: We will be extending the human life expectancy… this is going to go into high gear now that health and medicine has changed…We now have the actual means of understanding the software of life and reprogramming it…becoming a million times more powerful for the same cost in 20 years. …(technologies)are also going to expand the resources (like) energy, actually we are awash in energy. We are awash in water…most of it is dirty and polluted. And we know how to convert it, today, but it takes energy, which is why it’s expensive. Once energy is inexpensive, we can create water.
There is a whole set of new food technologies (called) vertical agriculture, where we grow …in computerized factories by artificial intelligence hydroponic plants tended by intelligent robots…”
“Feeney: But there are so many obstacles (political gridlock, consumer apathy…)
Kurzweil: My main thesis, which I call the Law of Accelerating Returns, is not affected by the kind of things you are referring to…”
And so on!
At last night’s talk Ray said his father fled Hitler. Somehow that hit me deeply. I thought of scholarly books I’ve read about illegal, immoral, repugnant, pervasive, on-going secretive, documented and document-destroyed slaughter and torture done to millions of innocent and defenseless people, around the globe, in orphanages, mental institutions, jails, private schools, religious settings, hospitals and the armed forces, as well as on millions of unsuspecting everyday-people in their routine lives, in the name of science research and “evolving the human species” — since well before the apex Hitler-Holocaust. I shuddered at the horrific mind control, brain operations, mutations, drug-induced altered-states, hypnosis, electro-shock, animal-human hybrid surgeries, ice water-timed deaths, starvation for observation, chemical warfare, biological agent testings, and so much more perpetrated by every “distinguished” title you can imagine (all documented), including but not limited to: American Psychiatry, Medicine, U.S. CIA, British Intelligence, Edgewood Arsenal, all branches of Military Intelligence in every major country, heads of “prestigious” universities: Columbia, Harvard, MIT, UCLA, and so many more. And it continues today with what the Justice Department recognizes under the broad title of “Target Individuals” who endure Electronic, Psychotronic, Biological, and other harassments and covert bullying. All very much under the public and judicial radar. Having pondered exterminations, mass-experimentations, man-made world-calamities and invented-diseases and more, and found them mystifying and terrorizing before, I feel a call to Caution and Vigilance regarding these promised-to-come, enhanced, accelerated “methods of (anonymous) testing,” aggressively and relentlessly pursued by ultra-funded, assiduously-secretive, virtually-other-species-
I humbly suggest that “Progress” such as the above-mentioned cannot be offhandedly compared to “fire,” “wheel,” “iron-horse,” or “linear-agriculture!” Those we can choose to embrace or mollify.
What if a near-time comes when we no longer have a choice about becoming Trans-human! What then?
I ponder the fate of the peaceful, cooperative Neanderthal. Acceleratedly.
The Las Vegas Smith Center Audi Speaker Series just added Alan Alda according to a stage announcement prior to Ray Kurzweil’s presentation (date to be announced). See www.thesmithcenter.com.