- Feb 22, 2008
Why transcend our biology? Ray Kurzweil’s questionable future forecast
“By 2029 we’ll have intelligent nanobots go into our brains… to make us smarter”, said Ray Kurzweil. The inventor and futurist is a pioneer in the fields of artificial intelligence, futurism and more. The engineer believes machines and humans will eventually merge through devices implanted in the body to boost intelligence and health. (BBC-News).
Mr. Kurzweil is one of 18 influential thinkers chosen to identify the great technological challenges facing humanity in the 21st century by the US National Academy of Engineering. The experts include Google founder Larry Page and genome pioneer Dr. Craig Venter.
“I have consistently predicted that by 2029 we will be able to create machines that pass the Turing test”, says Kurzweil. “The result will be a formidable combination, uniting the subtlety and suppleness of human intelligence with the ways in which machines are already superior – for example, in their ability to download knowledge at electronic speeds… But this will not be an alien invasion of intelligent machines: rather, we will merge with the tools we are creating.”
Friends, Romans, Brothers and Sisters of the Free Spirit, are you sure, this is what we really want? Is this the quality of life we’re aiming at?
In 1990, when people around the globe were hyped by Virtual Reality and the idea of doing anything to anyone and pursuing all kinds of dreams to come true in cyberspace. I read and wrote lots of articles on this sexy topic, in all kinds of media, and – believe me, it was not (only) a yellow press topic. As an apologist of words, language and communications I was fascinated by the matter and all imaginable new future opportunities of How Real is Real? and all kinds of virtual realities.
And the fascination about reality to me seemingly couldn’t exist amongst animate beings – without communication. Every communication has a content and relationship aspect such that the latter classifies the former and is therefore a metacommunication. Thus “Mister Communication” Paul Watzlawick. This means that all communication includes, apart from the plain meaning of words, more information – information on how the talker wants to be understood and how he himself sees his relation to the receiver of information.
Wow. Hi, semantics. Let’s return to Mister Kurzweil. He names the (wish of) “merging with the tools we are creating”. The historically old concept of a homunculus (Latin for “little man”; the diminutive of homo, “man”) is often used to illustrate the functioning of a system. In the scientific sense of an unknowable prime actor, it can be viewed as an entity or agent. The homunculus-motive has often been revisited within (not only classic) literature particularly to demonstrate the ambivalence of modern techniques.
There is an independent, feature-length documentary being made about Ray Kurzweil, his life, and his ideas called Transcendent Man. Filmmakers Barry and Felicia Ptolemy follow the inventor and futurist around the globe documenting his world-wide speaking tour. Scheduled for release in 2009, Transcendent Man, documents Ray’s quest to reveal mankind’s ultimate destiny and explores many of the ideas found in his New York Times bestselling book, The Singularity is Near, including his concept of exponential growth, radical life expansion, and how we will transcend our biology.
So, what the hell is all this transcending about? What is this universal social-web-fever all about? Is it about communication? Is it about transcending one’s own insufficiency? Is it about desire? Still fascinated and curious what’s going to happen: