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Ray Kurzweil: genius or naive optimist?

  1. Aug 4, 2007 #1
    I recently finished reading the book "The singularity is near" by Ray Kurzweil, in which he tries to predict the development of technology over the next decades and the impact this development will have on society. Based on the accelerating nature of technological evolution, Kurzwail claims that over the next decades rapid progress in fields such as nano-technology, genetics and artificial intelligence, will help us attain immortality and lead to the state of technological singularity, characterized by infinite intelligence.

    Obviously what I just wrote does not make justice to the whole idea of the book, but I would like to ask those of you who are already familiar with Kurzweil's thoughts about these matters: do you believe that he is a genius or naive optimist (or, possibly, something in between)?

  2. jcsd
  3. Aug 4, 2007 #2


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    I think that he is a good business man, who gets people to buy his books, what more can you ask from him.
  4. Aug 4, 2007 #3
    he shows the data and makes the most reasonable predictions based on it- no more and no less- his incredible contributions to society through his philanthropy and invention speak to his genius- not the obvious conclusions of accelerating change
  5. Aug 5, 2007 #4

    Ivan Seeking

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    I don't know about Kurzweil in particular, but the impact of the coming singularity has been discussed for decades now. And in part we see the effects already. For example, for my work, I can now get information as fast as I can enter the key words in a Google search. In the past, these searches would often take many hours, or even days at the library, and/or many $1 per minute long-distance phone calls to manufacturers. What many people take for granted today was considered science fiction not that long ago.

    For anyone who saw the movie AI, what is the difference between Google [or Wiki] and Dr. Know?

    I don't know if we will ever see immortality [well, I sure won't], but based on claims made by some of the people doing the work, I can see 400 year lifespans being possible, and perhaps within decades. I think it was about a decade ago now that we first saw the life expectancy of certain worms increased by up to six fold. And if you can manage to live another 300+ years, who knows what might be possible before the clock runs out. Of course, if people stop dying, you may wish you were dead. :biggrin: That is, it would certainly pose some new problems for humanity.
    Last edited: Aug 5, 2007
  6. Aug 5, 2007 #5
    I think that he uses an overly-simplified exponential extrapolation.
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