Kurzweil's View in Brief, in His Own Words

There is little to disagree with in Ray Kurzweil's futurism when presented in this brief way, though here he glosses over the difference between medicine that reduces mortality in the young, the cause of most historical increases in life expectancy, and medicine that reduces mortality in the old, which is still a comparatively recent development. That aside, I think most of the disagreement tends to be over details and timelines. Our future is one of great longevity and transcendence of many present limits on the human condition, largely enabled by the merging of technology and biology at the nanoscale, and later by the wholesale replacement of biology with more robust entirely artificial systems. We will be able to replicate the processes of intelligence in machinery, and that capability will be applied in ways that not all of us will want to embrace. This vision doesn't seem terribly controversial in these very early stages of the process, in which there are many ongoing examples of work on rejuvenation therapies, bioartificial tissues, gene editing, and deciphering the physical basis of the brain.

Our immediate reaction to death is that it's a tragedy. And that's really the correct reaction. We have rationalized it, saying, oh, that tragic thing that's looming, that's actually a good thing. But now we can actually seriously talk about a scenario where we will be able to extend our longevity indefinitely.

This little computer is billions of times more powerful per dollar than the computer I used when I was an undergraduate. We will do that again in the next 25 years. And we will have computers the size of blood cells, little robotic devices that can go through our bloodstream, its capability thousands or millions-fold by connecting to the cloud. That's a 2030s scenario.

We have been expanding our life expectancy for thousands of years. It was 19 1,000 years ago, 37 in 1800. We're going to get to a point 10, 15 years from now where we're adding more time than is going by to our remaining life expectancy. People say, oh, I don't want to live past 90, but, you know, I talk to 90-year-olds, and they definitely want to live to 91 and to 100. People sometimes say that death gives meaning to life because it makes time short, but, actually, death is a great robber of meaning, of relationships, of knowledge.

We're going to be able to overcome disease and aging. Most of our thinking will be nonbiological. That will be backed up, so part of it gets wipes away, you can recreate it. And we will be able to extend our lives indefinitely. I would rather use that word than forever.

Link: http://www.pbs.org/newshour/bb/inventor-ray-kurzweil-sees-immortality-in-our-future/


Post a comment; thoughtful, considered opinions are valued. New comments can be edited for a few minutes following submission. Comments incorporating ad hominem attacks, advertising, and other forms of inappropriate behavior are likely to be deleted.

Note that there is a comment feed for those who like to keep up with conversations.