Friday, February 20, 2009

Man + Machine

Rolling Stone just put out an article in their latest issue on a man named Ray Kurzweil called "When Man and Machine Merge." Kurzweil is a technological prophet. He has some radical futuristic ideas that I needed to expose here because I'm trying to wrap my head around it.

First, here is what he is credited for doing: He taught machines to classify and learn data. He created the first program where computers began to read text (scanning). He also created the first program to translate text into speech. Kurzweil also created a synthesizer that revolutionized the music industry, working specifically with Stevie Wonder. He has also worked with figuring out artificial intelligence but has been in and out of the White House, eventually receiving the highest honor, the National Medal of Technology.

Now, he's making some outlandish predictions that are causing a little bit of a stir.

Here is what he believes is going to happen:

"In our lifetime, Kurzweil believes, machines will not only surpass humans in intelligence--they will irrevocably alter what it means to be human. Cell-size photos will zap disease from our bloodstream. Superintelligent nanotechnology, operating on a molecular scale, will scrub pollution from our atmosphere. Our minds, our skills, our memories, our very consciousness will be backed up on computers--allowing us, in essence, to live forever, all our data saved by supersmart machines."

In others words, "By 2045, computers will surpass us in intelligence, the universe itself will become conscious, and humans will live forever."


Kurzweil's father has also been dead for a few years now. He is scientifically preserving his body because he believes he can bring him back to life with his technology. He supplies himself with pills to make him as young as possible. He wants to live long enough to see these changes, and he wants to live long enough so he can sustain his life forever. He really does believe that he can live forever, and he is working his hardest to do so.

This all does seem a bit radical. That's why I'm posting on it. I want to see how other people react to this sort of thing.

I think his accomplishments give him some credit. This opinion isn't just coming from some Joe down the street. I think that's why it makes me raise an eyebrow. I wonder how true some of this stuff MIGHT be, not all the way. Sometimes predictions can even be fabrics of the truth to come, but who knows? I just don't see how machines could really be more capable of thought, something so special and significant of the human mind. The human mind is a work of God. (And I'm not all that religious). How could something manmade trump a natural wonder of the world, human beings?

It's just a bizarre idea I'm throwing out there. The idea that we might become obsolete is kind of weird too. That's just strange.

Anyway, the article was pretty interesting if you want to read it. I didn't put down everything here, just the major points. Do with it what you will.

So what do you think of Kurzweil's predicitions?

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