Ray Kurzweil’s Immortals

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An Encounter with Tech Visionary Ray Kurzweil and the Disciples of the “Singularity” Movement.

Heike Buchter and Burkhard Strassmann discuss the ideas of controversial tech guru Ray Kurzweil in a feature article in the Zeit‘s “Utopia” special dated March 27, 2013.

“Rise of the Machines” is the theme of the latest and strange event, an event one could also call “Waiting for Ray Kurzweil.” Kurzweil is a man who holds eighteen honorary Ph.Ds from American universities and who found a dozen successful entrepreneurial ventures in his lifetime. Ronald Reagan and Bill Clinton both honored the man who holds countless patents and writes books like other people write postcards. Kurzweil is relentless in the way he proclaims his message that no person has to die and that all of us have eternal life within reach. “And I will be the first one!”

David Huerta has been following Kurzweil for a long time. According to him, “Kurzweil’s ideas were interesting a few years ago, but now they are relevant.” According to Allen Sayter, who flew in on the red-eye from San Francisco, “Kurzweil is the philosopher for all techies.” But everyone here understands the meaning of the word “Singularity”, namely the arrival of the true savior, the long awaited triumph of artificial intelligence over mankind. The Singularity describes the point in time when artificial intelligence takes command over the destiny of the world as we know it.

But before Kurzweil makes his appearance, some interesting and colorful individuals like Jincey Lumpkin take center stage. Jincey is an attorney, columnist for the Huffington Post and self described Chief Sexy Officer for a company called “Juicy Pink Box” that markets lesbian pornography online. According to Ms. Lumpkin, by the year 2047, robots will possess an intelligence similar to humans. And sooner or later, they will become our sexual partners, which is the reason why ethical and legal questions should be discussed, such as whether or not robots could become victims of rape.

Then comes Kurzweil. Armed with his projector and explanatory slides, he explains how the human mind works and how it should be understood, as a hierarchy of patterns and electrical impulses. It should therefore be possible to design artificial mind functions and a supercomputer that would function identically to the switchboard in the head of a human being. This is also the subject of Kurzweil’s latest book, “How to Create a Mind.” The artificial mind will determine the next step in human evolution and recent technological progress confirms this assumption, according to Kurzweil.

Kurzweil’s disciples don’t get the opportunity to address their master directly with their questions. Instead, they are asked to tweet their questions to a moderator who cherry-picks which questions “make it through” to the “prophet.” Among other things, the audience would like to know whether they should enhance their pets via implants. Kurzweil believes this to be a good question, and that some people may opt to do just that.

In the meantime, he sees little problem with lending a helping hand to the human body by consuming 150 to 250 tablets of nutritional supplements each day. Now in his mid sixties, he is no longer a spring chicken, but intends to stay fit until such time when technology will grant him eternal life. He predicts that, as early as in 2024, people will be able to repair their DNA thanks to advanced biotechnology. Later on, nanobots (microscopic robots) will find their way into our bloodstream where they will repair cellular gunk and replace them with new cells. At that time, aging will be history and mankind will become immortal, so the story goes. ETA? Approximately by 2045. Kurzweil will be 97 years old by then…

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April 01, 2013 / by / 0 Comment
ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Dom Einhorn is a proud Alsatian interested in a wide variety of subject matter, from literature and politics to science and sports. He speaks 5 languages fluently and calls both Wyoming and France "home." Dom is also a trivia fanatic and the editor of MastersOfTrivia.com.