Author 400692

Ray
Kurzweil, fully Raymond "Ray" Kurzweil
1948

American Author, Computer Scientist, Inventor, Futurist, Co-Founder of Singularity University and Director of Engineering at Google, Recipient of the MIT-Lemelson Prize, National Medal of Technology, 19 Honorary Doctorate Degrees and Inducted into National Inventor's Hall of Fame,Principal Developer of the first omni-font optical character recognition, the first print-to-speech reading machine for the blind, the first CCD flat-bed scanner, 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

Author Quotes

Question: James Lovelock, the ecologist behind the Gaia hypothesis, came out a couple of years ago with a prediction that more than 6 billion people are going to perish by the end of this century, mostly because of climate change. Do you see the GNR technologies coming on line to mitigate that kind of a catastrophe? RAY KURZWEIL: Absolutely. Those projections are based on linear thinking, as if nothing?s going to happen over the next 50 or 100 years. It?s ridiculous. For example, we?re applying nanotechnology to solar panels. The cost per watt of solar energy is coming down dramatically. As a result, the amount of solar energy is growing exponentially. It?s doubling every two years, reliably, for the last 20 years. People ask, ?Is there really enough solar energy to meet all of our energy needs?? It?s actually 10,000 times more than we need. And yes you lose some with cloud cover and so forth, but we only have to capture one part in 10,000. If you put efficient solar collection panels on a small percentage of the deserts in the world, you would meet 100% of our energy needs. And there?s also the same kind of progress being made on energy storage to deal with the intermittency of solar. There are only eight doublings to go before solar meets100% of our energy needs. We?re awash in sunlight and these new technologies will enable us to capture that in a clean and renewable fashion. And then, geothermal ? you have the potential for incredible amounts of energy.

The key issue as to whether or not a non-biological entity deserves rights really comes down to whether or not it's conscious.... Does it have feelings?

They key idea underlying the impending Singularity is that the pace of change of our human-created technology is accelerating and its powers are expanding at exponential pace.

We have the means right now to live long enough to live forever. Existing knowledge can be aggressively applied to dramatically slow down aging processes so we can still be in vital health when the more radical life extending therapies from biotechnology and nanotechnology become available. But most baby boomers won't make it because they are unaware of the accelerating aging process in their bodies and the opportunity to intervene.

You have to be an optimist to be an inventor or entrepreneur. I?m not oblivious to the dangers, but I?m optimistic that we?ll make it through without destroying civilization.

Recall the metaphor I used in chapter 4 relating the random movements of molecules in a gas to the random movements of evolutionary change. Molecules in a gas move randomly with no apparent sense of direction. Despite this, virtually every molecule in a gas in a beaker, given sufficient time, will leave the beaker. I noted that this provides a perspective on an important question concerning the evolution of intelligence. Like molecules in a gas, evolutionary changes also move every which way with no apparent direction. Yet we nonetheless see a movement toward greater complexity and greater intelligence, indeed to evolution?s supreme achievement of evolving a neocortex capable of hierarchical thinking. So we are able to gain an insight into how an apparently purposeless and directionless process can achieve an apparently purposeful result in one field (biological evolution) by looking at another field (thermodynamics).

The need to congregate workers in offices will gradually diminish.

This device [smartphone] is a billion times more valuable per constant dollar than the computer I used as a student at MIT in the late ?60s. In 25 years, it will be the size of a blood cell. And it will be a billion times more powerful.

We will be able to selectively erase pieces of our memory.

You have to take a hierarchical approach [to natural language processing] just like human language - you have to build it that way. We learn things layer by layer and we have to educate our synthetic neocortexes too.

Research has shown that people actually begin to subjectively identify with their avatar. But in the future it's not going to be a little picture in a virtual environment you're looking at. It will feel like this is your body and you're in that environment and your body is the virtual body and it can be as realistic as real reality. So we'll be routinely able to change our bodies very quickly as well as our environments. If we had radical life extension only we would get profoundly bored and we would run out of thing to do and new ideas. In addition to radical life extension we're going to have radical life expansion. We're going to have million of virtual environments to explore that we're going to literally expand our brains - right now we only have 300 million patterns organized in a grand hierarchy that we create ourselves. But we could make that 300 billion or 300 trillion. The last time we expanded it with the frontal cortex we created language and art and science. Just think of the qualitative leaps we can't even imagine today when we expand our near cortex again.

The pattern recognition theory of mind that I articulate in this book is based on a different fundamental unit: not the neuron itself, but rather an assembly of neurons, which I estimate to number around a hundred. The wiring and synaptic strengths within each unit are relatively stable and determined genetically?that is the organization within each pattern recognition module is determined by genetic design. Learning takes place in the creation of connections between these units, not within them, and probably in the synaptic strengths of the inter-unit connections.

This is another of these myopic views: that we?re running out of energy, that we?re running out of food and water. That?s nonsense: we could have 10,000 times more energy than we need from the sun, all of it free, if only we could convert it, and our ability to do that is increasing as we approach the point where we can apply nanotechnology to solar panels. Same with water: 98 percent of the world?s water is salinated or dirty, but we?re increasingly capable of cleaning it thanks to emerging technologies.

We will be extending the human life expectancy; in fact, we have done that already. Human life expectancy was 37 years in 1800, 48 in 1900; it?s now pushing 80. But this is going to go into high gear now that health and medicine has changed. It used to be hit or miss. We?d just find things ? medicine was just a kind of an organized set of ideas that we discovered accidentally. We now have the actual means of understanding the software of life and reprogramming it; we can turn genes off without any interference, we can add new genes, whole new organs with stem cell therapy. The point is that medicine is now an information technology ? it?s going to double in power every year. These technologies will be a million times more powerful for the same cost in 20 years. However, the same technologies that are going to extend life and nudge up the biological population are also going to expand the resources. We just talked about energy, because we are running out of it, but actually we are awash in energy. We are awash in water ? pun intended. Just 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.

RUS: I think when most people think of utopia, they probably just think about everybody being happy and feeling good. RAY KURWEIL: I really don?t think that?s the goal. I think the goal has been demonstrated by the multi-billion-year history of biological evolution and the multi-thousand-year history of technological evolution. The goal is to be creative and create entities of beauty, of insight, that solve problems. I mean, for myself as an inventor, that?s what makes me happy. But it?s not a state that you would seek to be in at all times, because it?s fleeting. It?s momentary. To sit around being happy all the time is not the goal. In fact, that?s kind of a downside. Because if we were to just stimulate our pleasure centers and sit around in a morphine high at all times ? that?s been recognized as a downside and it ultimately leads to a profound unhappiness. We can identify things that make us unhappy. If we have diseases that rob our faculties or cause physical or emotional pain ? that makes us unhappy and prevents us from having these moments of connection with another person, or a connection with an idea, then we should solve that. But happiness is not the right goal. I think it represents the cutting edge of the evolutionary condition to seek greater horizons and to always want to transcend whatever our limitations are at the time. And so it?s not our nature just to sit back and be happy.

The purposeful destruction of information is the essence of intelligent work.

This is what I call a deathist statement, part of a millennium-old rationalization of death as a good thing. It once seemed to make sense, because up until very recently you could not make a plausibly sound argument where life could be indefinitely extended. So religion, which emerged in prescientific times, did the next best thing, which is to say, ?Oh, that tragic thing? That?s really a good thing.? We rationalized that because we did have to accept it. But in my mind death is a tragedy.

We'll be able to have very intelligent, little robots with computers going inside our bloodstream, keeping us healthy from inside, destroying cancer at the level of one cell.

Science fiction is the great opportunity to speculate on what could happen. It does give me, as a futurist, scenarios.

The reality is, these technologies are readily adopted once they come out.

Time would become meaningless if there were too much of it.

We'll be in augmented reality at all times.

One of my primary theses is that information technologies grow exponentially in capability and power and bandwidth and so on. If you buy an iPhone today, it?s twice as good as two years ago for half that cost. That is happening with solar energy ? it is doubling every two years. And it didn?t start two years ago, it started 20 years ago. Every two years we have twice as much solar energy in the world.

Scientists working on the next generation are invariably struggling with that next set of challenges, so if someone describes what the technology will look like in 10 generations, their eyes glaze over. One of the pioneers of integrated circuits was describing to me recently the struggles to go from 10 micron (10,000-nanometer) feature sizes to five-micron (5,000 nanometers) features over 30 years ago. They were cautiously confident of this goal, but when people predicted that someday we would actually have circuitry with feature sizes under one micron (1,000 nanometers), most of the scientists struggling to get to five microns thought that was too wild to contemplate. Objections were made on the fragility of circuitry at that level of precision, thermal effects, and so on. Well, today, Intel is starting to use chips with 22-nanometer gate lengths. We saw the same pessimism with the genome project. Halfway through the 15-year project, only 1 percent of the genome had been collected, and critics were proposing basic limits on how quickly the genome could be sequenced without destroying the delicate genetic structures. But the exponential growth in both capacity and price performance continued (both roughly doubling every year), and the project was finished seven years later. The project to reverse-engineer the human brain is making similar progress. It is only recently, for example, that we have reached a threshold with noninvasive scanning techniques that we can see individual interneuronal connections forming and firing in real time.

The same technologies that are going to increase human longevity are also going to expand the resources and ultimately make them very inexpensive.

Author Picture
First Name
Ray
Last Name
Kurzweil, fully Raymond "Ray" Kurzweil
Birth Date
1948
Bio

American Author, Computer Scientist, Inventor, Futurist, Co-Founder of Singularity University and Director of Engineering at Google, Recipient of the MIT-Lemelson Prize, National Medal of Technology, 19 Honorary Doctorate Degrees and Inducted into National Inventor's Hall of Fame,Principal Developer of the first omni-font optical character recognition, the first print-to-speech reading machine for the blind, the first CCD flat-bed scanner, 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