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

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.

To appreciate its apparent complication, it is useful to zoom in on its image (which you can access via the links in this endnote).

We're democratizing the tools of creativity.

One problem with a lot of science fiction ? and this is particularly true of movies ? is they take one change, like the human-level cyborgs in the movie AI, and they put it in a world that is otherwise unchanged. So in AI, the coffee maker is the same and the cars are the same. There?s no virtual reality, but you had human-level cyborgs. Part of the reason for that is the limitation of the form. To try to present a world in which everything is quite different would take the whole movie, and people wouldn?t be able to follow it very easily. It?s certainly a challenge to do that. I am in touch with some movie makers who want to try to do that.

So that?s really the purpose of reverse engineering the human brain. But there are other benefits. We?ll get more insight into ourselves. We?ll have better means for fixing the brain. Right now, we have vague psychiatric models as to what?s going on in the brain of someone with bipolar disease or schizophrenia. We?ll not only understand human function, we?ll understand human dysfunction. We?ll have better means of fixing those problems. And moreover we?ll ?fix? the limitation that we all have in thinking in a very small, slow, fairly-messily organized substrate. Of course, we have to be careful. What might seem like just a messy arbitrary complexity that evolution put in may in fact be part of some real principle that we don?t understand at first.

The Singularity denotes an event that will take place in the material world, the inevitable next step in the evolutionary process that started with biological evolution and has extended through human-directed technological evolution. however, it is precisely in the world of matter and energy that we encounter transcendence, a principal connotation of what people refer to as spirituality.

To transcend means to ?go beyond,? but this need not compel us to an ornate dualist view that regards transcendent levels of reality (e.g., the spiritual level) to be not of this world. We can ?go beyond? the ?ordinary? powers of the material world through the power of patterns. Rather than a materialist, I would prefer to consider myself a ?patternist.? It?s through the emergent powers of the pattern that we transcend.

We're going to become increasingly non-biological to the point where the non-biological part dominates and the biological part is not important any more. In fact the non-biological part - the machine part - will be so powerful it can completely model and understand the biological part. So even if that biological part went away it wouldn't make any difference. We'll also have non-biological bodies - we can create bodies with nanotechnology, we can create virtual bodies and virtual reality in which the virtual reality will be as realistic as the actual reality. The virtual bodies will be as detailed and convincing as real bodies. We do need a body, our intelligence is directed towards a body but it doesn't have to be this frail, biological body that is subject to all kinds of failure modes. But I think we'll have a choice of bodies, we'll certainly be routinely changing our parent body through virtual reality and today you can have a different body in something like Second Life, but it's just a picture on the screen.

Our brains will extend to the cloud, which will allow us to learn new things at any age.

Society will reach a state of "technological singularity" in 2045 where technology enables superhuman machine intelligences to emerge and people and machines become deeply integrated.

The software programs that make our body run ? were evolved in very different times. We?d like to actually change those programs. One little software program, called the fat insulin receptor gene, basically says, ?Hold onto every calorie, because the next hunting season may not work out so well.? That was in the interests of the species tens of thousands of years ago. We?d like to turn that program off.

Today, nobody worries too much about causing pain and suffering to their computer software. But we will get to a point where the emotional reactions of virtual beings will be convincing, unlike the characters in the computer games today. And that will become a real issue. That?s the whole thesis of my movie, The Singularity is Near. But it really comes down to the fact that it?s not a scientific issue, which is to say there?s still a role for philosophy. How do we even know that we?re not conscious under anesthesia? We don?t remember anything, but memory is not the same thing as consciousness.

What we found was that rather than being haphazardly arranged or independent pathways, we find that all of the pathways of the brain taken together fit together in a single exceedingly simple structure. They basically look like a cube. They basically run in three perpendicular directions, and in each one of those three directions the pathways are highly parallel to each other and arranged in arrays. So, instead of independent spaghettis, we see that the connectivity of the brain is, in a sense, a single coherent structure.

Our immediate reaction to hearing someone has died is that it's not a good thing. We're sad. We consider it a tragedy. So for thousands of years, we did the next best thing which is to rationalize. 'Oh that tragic thing? That's really a good thing.' One of the major goals of religion is to come up with some story that says death is really a good thing. It's not. It's a tragedy. And people think we're talking about a 95-year-old living for hundreds of years. But that's not what we're talking about. We're talking radical life extension, radical life enhancement.

Some scientists say, ?Well, it?s not a scientific issue, therefore it?s not a real issue. Therefore consciousness is just an illusion and we should not waste time on it.? But we shouldn?t be too quick to throw it overboard because our whole moral system and ethical system is based on consciousness. If I cause suffering to some other conscious human, that?s considered immoral and probably a crime. On the other hand, if I destroy some property, it?s probably okay if it?s my property. If it?s your property, it?s probably not okay. But that?s not because I?m causing pain and suffering to the property. I?m causing pain and suffering to the owner of the property. And there?s recognition that animals are probably conscious and that animal cruelty is not okay. But it?s okay to cause pain and suffering to the avatar in your computer, at least today. That may not be the case 20 years from now.

The story of evolution unfolds with increasing levels of abstraction.

Today, solar is still more expensive than fossil fuels, and in most situations it still needs subsidies or special circumstances, but the costs are coming down rapidly ? we are only a few years away from parity. And then it?s going to keep coming down, and people will be gravitating towards solar, even if they don?t care at all about the environment, because of the economics. So right now it?s at half a percent of the world?s energy. People tend to dismiss technologies when they are half a percent of the solution. But doubling every two years means it?s only eight more doublings before it meets a hundred percent of the world?s energy needs. So that?s 16 years. We will increase our use of electricity during that period, so add another couple of doublings: In 20 years we?ll be meeting all of our energy needs with solar, based on this trend which has already been under way for 20 years.

What we spend our time on is probably the most important decision we make.

Our intuition about the future is linear. But the reality of information technology is exponential, and that makes a profound difference. If I take 30 steps linearly, I get to 30. If I take 30 steps exponentially, I get to a billion.

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