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Interviews: Ask Ray Kurzweil About the Future of Mankind and Technology

samzenpus posted about a year ago | from the future-is-now dept.

Science 244

The recipient of nineteen honorary doctorates, and honors from three U.S. presidents, Ray Kurzweil's accolades are almost too many to list. A prolific inventor, Kurzweil created the first CCD flatbed scanner, the first omni-font optical character recognition, the first print-to-speech reading machine for the blind, the first text-to-speech synthesizer, and the first music synthesizer capable of recreating the grand piano and other orchestral instruments. His book, The Singularity Is Near, was a New York Times best seller. and is considered one of the best books about futurism and transhumanism ever written. Mr. Kurzweil was hired by Google in December as Director of Engineering to "work on new projects involving machine learning and language processing." He has agreed to take a short break from creating and predicting the future in order to answer your questions. As usual, you're invited to ask as many questions as you'd like, but please divide them, one question per post.

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244 comments

Your Predictions (4, Interesting)

eldavojohn (898314) | about a year ago | (#42716299)

Editors of Wikipedia have taken enough care to meticulously log your predictions [wikipedia.org]. Are there any that you regret making? Are there any that you think people overlook because now it's painfully obvious but wasn't at the time?

GnomeDevelopers remaping keyShortcuts to OSX style (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42717037)

Apple user with less the 8% computer market share are remapping the keyboard for the other 90%. New keyboard shortcut mappings adopts Apple's OSX style [gnome.org] , yet will trouble user that don't use a mac. Gnome needs to be forked again stop these Apple user from turning Gnome into a carbon copy of OSX.

Re:GnomeDevelopers remaping keyShortcuts to OSX st (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42717089)

um...this applies to Gnome? That is far far far far far far far from being "the other 90%" of computer users.

Your Countdown to the Singularity (4, Interesting)

eldavojohn (898314) | about a year ago | (#42716325)

I have seen the graphic showing your countdown to the singularity [wikipedia.org] and something I've always wondered is how you picked these events and what makes the significant? For example, your list seems to be made of things that would prolong our existence but entries like "Human ancestors walk upright" and "art, early cities" are confusing in that I don't understand how they can be marked as epic achievements. Are you saying that if we had never learned to walk upright we would not have developed intelligence? Are you saying that early cities were somehow superior to ant colonies? Didn't they help spread disease and cause sanitation problems? Can you convince me that this list isn't just arbitrary things that fit into a line?

Re:Your Countdown to the Singularity (4, Funny)

Colonel Korn (1258968) | about a year ago | (#42716517)

I have seen the graphic showing your countdown to the singularity [wikipedia.org] and something I've always wondered is how you picked these events and what makes the significant? For example, your list seems to be made of things that would prolong our existence but entries like "Human ancestors walk upright" and "art, early cities" are confusing in that I don't understand how they can be marked as epic achievements. Are you saying that if we had never learned to walk upright we would not have developed intelligence? Are you saying that early cities were somehow superior to ant colonies? Didn't they help spread disease and cause sanitation problems? Can you convince me that this list isn't just arbitrary things that fit into a line?

They were chosen because they create a line on a log-log plot.

Re:Your Countdown to the Singularity (3, Insightful)

Amorymeltzer (1213818) | about a year ago | (#42716657)

entries like "Human ancestors walk upright" and "art, early cities" are confusing in that I don't understand how they can be marked as epic achievements. Are you saying that if we had never learned to walk upright we would not have developed intelligence?

Walking upright allowed us to freely use our hands. Everything since was really put on hold until that could happen. Our hands are dextrous and capable to a degree of finery not seen elsewhere. That event was huge. Art is a sign of a creative intelligent process, I don't understand why you don't see that as something "epic." Art is an enormous part of what we call "culture" which is an enormous part of what sets us apart from our evolutionary cousins.

Are you saying that early cities were somehow superior to ant colonies? Didn't they help spread disease and cause sanitation problems?

Yes, if only because humans are superior (at least as far as intelligence goes) to ants. There's no point in grouping together the smartest viruses for a few thousand years and hoping to get a laptop, nor would you advise a company to hire only those with room-temperature IQs. Diseases and sanitation problems, sure, but the population has moved past those issues by an order of magnitude or three, at least in many places.

Re:Your Countdown to the Singularity (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42716891)

It's 20 years away.

What kind of inmortality? (4, Interesting)

javilon (99157) | about a year ago | (#42716373)

What do you think will come first, immortality through repair technology like SENS [sens.org], or immortality through mind uploading?

Have Human Enhancement Technologies Slowed Down? (4, Interesting)

eldavojohn (898314) | about a year ago | (#42716379)

I assume that the occurrence of Human Enhancement Technologies (HETs) needs to accelerate for us to hit the singularity in 2045 as you predict. While we cover a lot of them on Slashdot, they either feel like vaporware or just a small improvement on an existing HET. Of the existing technologies [wikipedia.org] in actual use they all seem a decade or more old. So where is the acceleration of HETs and their proliferation? Why am I not seeing more normal humans using HETs or at least more original HET options arising? Can you explain what I'm missing?

Re:Have Human Enhancement Technologies Slowed Down (2)

ColdWetDog (752185) | about a year ago | (#42717491)

Just as a sidelight to your comment that might point towards the answer (and I'm no particular fan of the Singularity thingy) - we ARE seeing a good bit of HET in the guise of 'cheating' in the Olympics. Most of these are pretty crude chemical approaches although gene manipulation therapy is probably the next big step.

These sorts of things are very under the radar, clandestine if not outright illegal.

You may need to see something like William Gibson's Chiba City [wikipedia.org] start along before we see much progress.

Hell, in the US, we're still stuck on putting marijuana in the same category as heroin. You can't expect all that much from this sort of society.

Is Google's goal a singularity? (4, Insightful)

Psyborgue (699890) | about a year ago | (#42716403)

Is creating a singularity a goal (immediate or long term) at Google?

Re:Is Google's goal a singularity? (1)

elucido (870205) | about a year ago | (#42716533)

I think Google may have the goal of creating a Superintelligence which utilizes the internet as a knowledge base and results in an intelligence explosion.

The real question is should Superintellignece be developed first by the private sector (Google) or by the public sector (Government)? Who should get it first and why?

Re:Is Google's goal a singularity? (1)

vlm (69642) | about a year ago | (#42716785)

The real question is should Superintellignece be developed first by the private sector (Google) or by the public sector (Government)? Who should get it first and why?

In our modern crony capitalist system there is no difference at all other than PR. From a PR perspective always remember "privatize the gains, socialize the losses" so if it "works" its GOOG's baby, if it fails, its .gov's baby.

Re:Is Google's goal a singularity? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42716951)

>In our modern crony capitalist system there is no difference at all other than PR. From a PR perspective always remember "privatize the gains,
>socialize the losses" so if it "works" its GOOG's baby, if it fails, its .gov's baby.

Very perceptive.

Re:Is Google's goal a singularity? (2)

the gnat (153162) | about a year ago | (#42716793)

The real question is should Superintellignece be developed first by the private sector (Google) or by the public sector (Government)? Who should get it first and why?

The one without guns and nukes, of course. I'm not a reflexive defender of the private sector versus the government (hell, I'm employed by the government), but I'm hardly so naive as to think that just because the government creates something, it's "mine", any more than it would be if Google created it. If the US government invents superintelligence it will probably just use it to spy on American citizens.

Stupid Sociey (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42716413)

we live in a stupid society, and we should be thinking of how to fix the current problems facing all life because of our stupidity.

Re:Stupid Sociey (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42716497)

we live in a stupid society, and we should be thinking of how to fix the current problems facing all life because of our stupidity.

But...that would imply we're smart enough to know what and how to fix the problems caused by our stupidity; which therefore makes us smart.

......

You listen to talk radio and watch Fox News, don't you.

Re:Stupid Sociey (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42716581)

In general we are stupid, singular we are be much more then we could ever think. We just have to move beyond our past evil nature and move on to the next stage. I am sorry for not being so specific for your tinny mind to comprehend. And I say To Hell with Fox

The singularity has been "near" for decades. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42716427)

How do you defend the fact that the "singularity" has been "near" for decades, yet we never seem to actually achieve it?

The universe doesn't work that way. (0)

invid (163714) | about a year ago | (#42716433)

Technology has fits and starts. The universe is not infinitely malleable. There are constraints to what can be done. Things are going to get messy in ways we can't predict. We are not going to have a "singularity".

Re:The universe doesn't work that way. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42716515)

If you phrase that as a question you might get an answer.

I'll go for it (2)

smitty_one_each (243267) | about a year ago | (#42717013)

What if what seems to be a general technology-driven implosion into a Single World State goes a completely different direction, due to some 'unexpected' encounter with the fundamental irrationality of humans? In short, are there hidden assumptions about the rationality of human nature within this 'Singularity' notion?

Future of education? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42716443)

The old system needs change and least thing we need is a post PHD's

Extraneous human population (5, Interesting)

pkbarbiedoll (851110) | about a year ago | (#42716457)

As technology advances particularly with regard to robotics and AI, we're going to find that a large segment of the human population simply is not needed anymore. In today's political environment I'm simply not seeing the global community embracing strict population control as well as socialism in providing for those who no longer have jobs and are simply using up resources without providing anything in return.

What do you recommend be done with these billions of people in the coming decades?

Re:Extraneous human population (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42716599)

soylent green, dummy

Re:Extraneous human population (5, Insightful)

spire3661 (1038968) | about a year ago | (#42716837)

I fucking hate this. What do you mean 'not needed anymore'. My job is not my purpose in life. I exist to exist, not to work until i die.

Re:Extraneous human population (1)

smitty_one_each (243267) | about a year ago | (#42717123)

You will always have a purpose to soak up EBTs and vote for the Progressive whenever called upon.

MOD PARENT -1 FLAMEBAIT (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42717455)

You will always have a purpose to soak up EBTs and vote for the Progressive whenever called upon.

way to take the GP's comment and twist it into some lame political joke.

Re:Extraneous human population (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42717379)

What we mean is that I don't need you. I would be better off if you were dismantled and your component chemical elements purified and recycled.

Re:Extraneous human population (2)

bill_mcgonigle (4333) | about a year ago | (#42717795)

What do you recommend be done with these billions of people in the coming decades?

Blech. The question assumes that anybody can make an informed decision about what to tell billions of people to do.

Personally, I'm looking forward to ten billion people who have all the food, energy, materials, and information they desire, and can't even begin to imagine the beautiful things that will come of it (other than a gradual reduction of that ten billion over time). The music we'll hear, the stories we'll read, the advances in science and engineering that I'll see some day, and the amazing amazings I can't even guess at!

Climate Change (1)

eldavojohn (898314) | about a year ago | (#42716495)

I've read that you're not worried about climate change [pbs.org] as you believe transhumanism will prevail and we will shed this 'natural' world like a used husk by 2045 [time.com].

So what happens if we don't actually achieve the lofty heights that futurism promises us? What happens if those extrapolations I've seen actually reach a dead end instead of allowing us to last forever and there is no distinction between man and machine? What if we ultimately turn out to be forever mortal individuals and now depend on a decrepit husk we left for ourselves? What then?

Re:Climate Change (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42717111)

>I've read that you're not worried about climate change [pbs.org] as you believe transhumanism will prevail and we will shed this 'natural' world
>like a used husk by 2045 [time.com].

Religious people are a hoot, and Kurzweil is clearly a preacher-man.

Re:Climate Change (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42717813)

I don't think any of us are assuming we can pave the earth because we'll all be robots in 30 years....even if some corporations and governments act like it.

Singular what? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42716501)

Singular what?

On patents (5, Interesting)

godrik (1287354) | about a year ago | (#42716503)

You invented lots of things that proved to be very useful to a wide range of people and industries. While the patent war is going stronger than ever, do you believe that you could have succesfully develop so many ideas in the current legal context?

Ray, Will Superintelligence replace governments? (1)

elucido (870205) | about a year ago | (#42716513)

I know the age of superintelligence is near but our current concept of government is still based around documents like Constitutions which are hundreds of years old. We still rely on humans even though we know that humans are the weakest link in any information security system due to the ease at which they can be corrupted. Superintelligence would not be corruptible if done right, and it would be smarter than us all by magnitudes where it probably would be able to generate or design the best most liberating yet most secure form of government where autonomy is maintained compared to oligarchy where autonomy is typically sacrificed for comfort and security.

Do you see a time when we no longer have to rely on humans to manage a nation, or the planet itself?

Re:Ray, Will Superintelligence replace governments (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42716953)

No. Only Superstupidity can be a subtable replacement for governments

Re:Ray, Will Superintelligence replace governments (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42717009)

A better and more fundamental question would be "will voluntary association ever replace coercion" (with respect to public policy). What does it matter if public policy is decided by human beings, artificial intelligence, or coin flips, if that public policy is founded on and implemented through coercion? The end result is the same: injustice. Same as it is in the animal kingdom.

Will human beings ever rise above the animal kingdom in this respect, or will public policy forever be achieved through violence and/or threat of violence? That is a much more interesting question than how public policy will be determined.

Re:Ray, Will Superintelligence replace governments (1)

elucido (870205) | about a year ago | (#42717393)

A better and more fundamental question would be "will voluntary association ever replace coercion" (with respect to public policy). What does it matter if public policy is decided by human beings, artificial intelligence, or coin flips, if that public policy is founded on and implemented through coercion? The end result is the same: injustice. Same as it is in the animal kingdom.

Will human beings ever rise above the animal kingdom in this respect, or will public policy forever be achieved through violence and/or threat of violence? That is a much more interesting question than how public policy will be determined.

Human beings suck at creating policy because human beings are too emotional to think logically about the long term consequences. We see it all the time with these various laws such as the war on drugs, 3 strikes, or cutting off welfare recipients who fail drug tests. Anyone who does the math and logic and thinks about it without emotion would see these policies would lead to really bad or really costly results. A superintelligence would be at the same time more compassionate than any human could be, more rational, more logical, and as a result would generate the best possible policy.

Policy is like a form of math, it's a type of optimization algorithm. This is something an artificial intelligence would be great at. If you watch the movie Tron Legacy you will see some of the philosophical elements of it there. Superintelligence would be able to design the perfect government or just progressively better governments at a rate which best suits our species and life on earth. It's clear that our social systems and our governments aren't evolving fast enough to deal with our technology or our population growth rate. Something must be done before we destroy the habitat our species depends on.

Will the precog please stand up? (1)

sjbe (173966) | about a year ago | (#42717387)

I know the age of superintelligence is near...

You "know" this? Do you have some powers of pre-cognition you would like to share with the rest of the class?

Re:Ray, Will Superintelligence replace governments (1)

CrimsonAvenger (580665) | about a year ago | (#42717711)

Superintelligence would not be corruptible if done right

Why not?

Or are you making the (possibly) mistaken assumption that any "superintelligence" would be less corruptible?

Keep in mind that a "superintelligence" is likely to have motives you can't even understand, much less evaluate properly.

Or do you mean "superintelligent slave" when you type "superintelligence"? If so, why do you assume that a "superintelligence" will put up with the whims of a bunch of monkeys?

P = NP? (2, Interesting)

Karganeth (1017580) | about a year ago | (#42716535)

I am certain that the algorithms being used today will never result with human level AI. If we want to design strong AI we need to first prove P = NP. This is the missing key to solving our AI problems - it's why there's a huge difference between expectations and the reality of AI. I will spend much of my life trying to prove P = NP, no matter how many tell me it's completely futile. Do you think P = NP?

Re:P = NP? (1)

godrik (1287354) | about a year ago | (#42716607)

Why exactly do you think that we need to solve the P=NP problem in order to have strong AIs?

Re:P = NP? (2)

Karganeth (1017580) | about a year ago | (#42717405)

If P = NP, then the world would be a profoundly different place than we usually assume it to be. There would be no special value in "creative leaps," no fundamental gap between solving a problem and recognizing the solution once it's found. Everyone who could appreciate a symphony would be Mozart; everyone who could follow a step-by-step argument would be Gauss... — Scott Aaronson, MIT

I think that this is a more accurate description of how creativity and intelligence works. People claim they "invented" or "created" a new machine or song, but in reality they just copied it from somewhere else in nature (with or without realizing it).

Immortality (5, Interesting)

Amorymeltzer (1213818) | about a year ago | (#42716551)

It's been said that the first person to live forever has already been born. In what sense is this conceivably true? How would such a medical/technological advance affect society, and how on earth could we avoid something catastrophic from occurring? (If you've ever read the Red Mars trilogy, I think of what happened when the longevity treatment was introduced)

The singularity has come and gone (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42716561)

Why does the development of language not constitute a singularity? It allows us to do everything commonly associated with the technological singularity: compared to the rest of the animal kingdom it has created an intelligence explosion, through education it allows each successive generation of superintelligences (that is, us) to create more and more intelligent beings, on an evolutionary scale it is occurring very quickly, and it has sufficiently occluded our future that it makes people like William Gibson stop writing sci fi. Language has essentially created a second evolutionary process in parallel to the biological one; if 'The Singularity' is going to bring similar advances in the form of a third process, why do you consider it different from the first two?

let me fix this for you (4, Insightful)

stenvar (2789879) | about a year ago | (#42716613)

That should be:

A prolific self-promoter, Kurzweil claims to have created the first CCD flatbed scanner, the first omni-font optical character recognition, the first print-to-speech reading machine for the blind, the first text-to-speech synthesizer, and the first music synthesizer capable of recreating the grand piano and other orchestral instruments

Most of these claims are actually rather dubious.

Re:let me fix this for you (3, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42716819)

Let's see. The first synthesizer able to play sounds of natural instruments... can it be Mellotron (1962), which has sets of magnetic tapes for different sounds? Kurzweil was 14 then. Text--to--speech electronic devices? Some are from early 60s as well. Omni--font OCR? From Wikipedia: Kurzweil is often credited with inventing omnifont OCR, but it was in use by companies, including CompuScan, in the late 1960s and 1970s. Print--to--speech? From Wikipedia: In 1949, RCA engineers worked on the first primitive computer-type OCR to help blind people for the US Veterans Administration, but instead of converting the printed characters to machine language, their device converted it to machine language and then spoke the letters: an early text-to-speech technology..

Re:let me fix this for you (1)

Nerdfest (867930) | about a year ago | (#42717043)

If Iremember correctly, the Mellotron used tapes, so would not really be a 'synthesizer' as such. That may be the distinction ... or TFA could just be wrong.

Re:let me fix this for you (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42716949)

his writings are mostly rubbish also. a lot of other people's work, self-promotion and shilling.

Solar Power - when? (1)

MangoCats (2757129) | about a year ago | (#42716621)

I've heard you mention Solar Power as another exponential improvement technology, do you have any data on when it is expected to drop below traditional power generation fuels (coal, gas, nuclear) in terms of cost per kilowatt hour of delivered power?

Re:Solar Power - when? (1)

vlm (69642) | about a year ago | (#42716915)

You'll need to specify which made up numbers to use. One nice set of imaginary numbers is nationwide delivered residential averages something like 11 cents/kWh (I pay much less, some pay much more, etc) and at least some utility scale projects have come in around 12 cents/kWh.

Or if you want low conventional cost you go to a hydro dam, or if you want high conventional cost you go to Hawaii / Manhattan.

Ditto the solar, if you demand residential figures for a very small system with multiple stages of middlemen I bet you could pay as much as $10/kWh, or if you want to skip some transport and middleman costs the Chinese could probably fling them on the ground for well under the 11 cents above, plus or minus the production loss due to pollution fog.

Furthest future entry in your personal calendar? (3, Interesting)

ewg (158266) | about a year ago | (#42716635)

What's the furthest future entry in your personal calendar?

WILL MAN EVENTUALLY BECOME AS CRAZY AS YOU ?? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42716643)

Because you are one crazy sombitch !!

The Premise of Conflict in All of Earth's History (4, Interesting)

eldavojohn (898314) | about a year ago | (#42716697)

Something that bothers me about the singularity is the complete removal of conflict. Okay, we've cheated death eternally, we are merged with machines, nationality is a distant memory and Earth is completely terraformed to be computing space for our vast artificial intelligences. There will no longer be man vs man or man vs environment. Where is the conflict? What causes us to strive for anything? It sounds like a veritable utopia and I should just kick back and let it happen. How will progress be made without conflict?

Re:The Premise of Conflict in All of Earth's Histo (5, Insightful)

kruach aum (1934852) | about a year ago | (#42716981)

Out of interest? While I won't deny that conflict is a major innovator and force of progress, I'm pretty sure Einstein didn't come up with special relativity because of how much he wanted to embarrass Newton. Rather, he was interested in what simultaneity meant, and then started to think. I'm not sure why things would be different after the Singularity. It could even be argued that conflict is an inhibitor of progress in some cases: Darwin didn't publish his work on evolution for twenty years because of the conflicts he foresaw. It was only his discoverer's pride that stopped Alfred Russell Wallace from getting the scoop.

Re:The Premise of Conflict in All of Earth's Histo (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42717113)

noobs ain't gonna' pwone themselves.

Re:The Premise of Conflict in All of Earth's Histo (1)

G3E9 (2740699) | about a year ago | (#42717149)

The conflict remains between a man and himself; when there is nothing to fight externally, that conflict directs inward. Fighting against yourself will motivate yourself, push yourself beyond what your gut tells you.

Re:The Premise of Conflict in All of Earth's Histo (1)

javilon (99157) | about a year ago | (#42717275)

Well, right now there is an economic war where the middle class all around the world is being obliterated. The likely end result will be a few very powerful and very wealthy entities/individuals owning most of the resources and technology, and competing between them in ways that we won't understand except when they use us.

They have been able to run around democracy and democratic institutions already. Unemployment is growing all around the word, as is social inequalities, the financial / industrial elites openly call the shots now. Manipulating people is extremely easy with the current mass media and people short attention spans.

The natural equilibrium state for this is just one entity calling the shots, the new superpower, and our only hope is that it is benign. The previous superpowers (USA, the British empire before that, the Spanish empire before them) didn't have the means to control all that is important, but with a globalized, homogeneous world and the current understanding of social science and politics and with the current technological means, it will be possible.

The only way around this would be to colonize the moon, or Mars, or somewhere that would allow for a situation where a new power center could have a chance of grow and survive, due to the physical distance.

Re:The Premise of Conflict in All of Earth's Histo (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42717291)

Never underestimate someone deciding their opinions and memes are more important then others. If you want an example of conflict in a singularity, read Charles Stross's Glasshouse. What I got from it was that all it would take is one big conflict, and then the aftershocks would continue forever, as those who had discovered personal power won't die of old age, so Terrorist groups and Factional violence will pop up all over the Human sphere of influence.

As long as the concept of Extremism, Pride, and Will exist, there will always be conflict. Without those, you don't really have sentient life, just a drone.

Re:The Premise of Conflict in All of Earth's Histo (1)

phantomfive (622387) | about a year ago | (#42717397)

You mean like this? [xkcd.com] There is always a new source of conflict. CEOs who have hundreds of millions of dollars still keep working instead of heading to the beach each day with blackjack and hookers. Hand-to-hand combat is mainly a thing of the past, so we created football. We have science contests, piano contests, art contests, etc....

Re:The Premise of Conflict in All of Earth's Histo (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42717449)

Do we need "progress" if we are not in any conflict?

The Age of Immortals (1)

Kotoku (1531373) | about a year ago | (#42716719)

Given your predictions for transformation of humans into enhanced beings and eventually a transhumanist society do you feel there is an age in mind where if you are at or below said age death will be avoidable? If so, are we at that point and will twenty, thirty, or forty year olds today be able to cheat death in increments long enough to sustain them to immortality ?

D-Wave quantum computer (2)

Simon321 (1933722) | about a year ago | (#42716729)

What do you think about the D-Wave quantum computer? Do you think it will be able to display a 'quantum speedup' over conventional computers? If it does, what will the consequences be for your singularity roadmap?

How do you plan to overcome entropy (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42716743)

Also, why do you think our societys use of the electromagnetic spectrum is so great when obviously not much is known about how these frequencies directly interface with the brain and nervous system, given a lack of any theory of quantum gravity or consciousness.

Re:How do you plan to overcome entropy (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42716791)

also why are you a self-promoting hack who whores himself out to the DHS who continues to utterly fuck us out of more and more civil rights as each day passes?

At what point will the human be comfortable... (1)

m_number4 (902127) | about a year ago | (#42716759)

At what future point will the human be comfortable allowing the machine to run the world. How long until we get there? - I'm talking about decisions and tasks that take place in factories and run all the way up to a head of state.

Why just a single singularity? (1)

kruach aum (1934852) | about a year ago | (#42716771)

What is stopping us from having just one singularity? Surely after the Singularity a new 'normal' will establish itself, from which it will then be possible to again give rise to what then would be considered superintelligences. And again, and again, and again, singularity after singularity, until the end of time. Surely it would make more sense to focus on this process of change as a whole rather than individual singularities along the path?

Re:Why just a single singularity? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42717339)

Unless my definition of "singularity" is wrong or outdated, I don't think there can be more than one singularity (hence the name). All that would follow the singularity would be part of the *consequences* of the singularity.

Re:Why just a single singularity? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42717727)

Until there are 6 billion ones, and each has a human body? (apply the same to other species)
And now . . . you get what creation is, singularity -> manyfoldness, and the way back, oscillating.

Alien Singularities (1)

LaggedOnUser (1856626) | about a year ago | (#42716773)

If other alien civilizations exist that have achieved technological singularity, shouldn't they be contacting us? Or shouldn't there be some evidence of their existence? How do you account for their silence?

Re:Alien Singularities (2)

cuncator (906265) | about a year ago | (#42717143)

Probably the best quote I've heard that addresses this is from Calvin and Hobbes: “Sometimes I think the surest sign that intelligent life exists elsewhere in the universe is that none of it has tried to contact us.”

Re:Alien Singularities (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42717329)

Natural Reserves? Prime Directive? Turns out that at a certain point they convert white dwarves and neutron stars into supercomputers, and don't really care about Sol type stars? We don't even know if they exist, let alone why they would do what they do.

Economics and the Singularity (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42716811)

One consistent concern about the singularity is that as technology improves it will erode the value of an individuals labor, while increasing returns to the holders of capital, driving inequality levels higher and higher. Responses generally are either a) the market will address the problem b) the government should forcibly redistribute capital c) Policy should encourage employee stock ownership to share in the benefits of increased returns.

What are your thoughts on inequality and the singularity?

Direct (B)rain (C)omputer (I)nterfaces (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42716835)

Do you believe the development of Direct (B)rain (C)omputer (I)nterfaces necessarily predates the singularity? Human motivation feels important for creating intention, but maybe you have other thoughts.

How many Rays do we need? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42716839)

People like to emulate others, specially those well respected and taken into high regard, like you seem to be. Evident, as it is, that not everybody is called to be a Ray Kurzweil, I would like to ask you a very hard question:

In your opinion, how many more like you do we need to survive?

And by the way, how many like you do you think are actually alive?

Not kidding! (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42716845)

What recreational drugs are you on?

: D

Where is the outlet? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42716861)

Do you have any thoughts about the current state and quality of development of Brain Computer Interfaces?

Are you... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42716871)

a crackhead or a crackpot?

When will you go away? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42716913)

When will you stop spreading this crappy gospel of "The Singularity"? I can go around telling morons my THOUGHTS on the future of technology as well, but I don't, because I have a day job.

Follow up question, How does one make money as a 'futurist'? Do I just have to go around giving speeches to anybody who will listen?

what is the state of your singularity documentary? (1)

peter303 (12292) | about a year ago | (#42717017)

I saw you and your movie in Breckenridge in 2010. Although it was a little too long it did have lots of interesting pieces. Will it see general release sometime?

Why progress? (4, Interesting)

vlm (69642) | about a year ago | (#42717023)

Progress... why? You express it as a function of time. Why not a function of "energy controlled"? So when the EROEI of crude oil and/or coal drops below critical value then progress stops and regress begins, right?

After the Singularity? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42717035)

I have no questions or doubts about anything Mr. Kurzweil has predicted. I want to ask about what happens AFTER biology and technology are one, and we have harnessed sub-atomic particles to do our computing.

Once we all become software, is that the best way for us to travel to other galaxies, or do you think there will be a more efficient way to cover distances that seem impossible to us now?

your father's avatar (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42717049)

Do you actually believe programming a computer full of data about someone is all you need to create a virtual representation of them or do you know this sounds cool and use the idea to get people excited about technology?

"...I can actually make a strong case that it would be more like my father than my father would be, were he to live." - Nightline

please present this case.

Have you ever studied human anatomy/biology past the collegiate freshman level?

world poverty (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42717061)

I believe with all my heart that the human race, at this time, is capable of ending world poverty. Corporations around the world hold trillions of dollars that could be used to end world hunger, create jobs, send men to jupiter. Sadly, these resources are not spent this way. When (if ever) do you believe that poverty will be abolished on earth and do you believe reaching a technological singularity is the key to this?

Programming language(s) of the singularity? (1)

inputdev (1252080) | about a year ago | (#42717085)

Which programming languages will be the most influential for progress towards the singularity? Will there be particularly important methodologies? (i.e. object-oriented, functional, asynchronous, whatever you call Lisp, strongly (or not) typed, etc. )

The third Industrial Revolution impact (5, Interesting)

Sique (173459) | about a year ago | (#42717115)

As mentioned on Slashdot before [slashdot.org], Bob Gordon argues [voxeu.org] that there have been three Industrial Revolutions, the Steam Revolution in the late 18th century, the Electrical and Car Revolution at the turn of the 20th century and the Data Revolution since the 1950ies. Differently than the first two, which yielded immense productivity and wealth increases, the Data Revolution is not living up to its promises yet, though we have many of its aspects already in place, data processing power is at everyone's[*] disposal, a world wide communication network lets you reach a big part of the world population[*] for nearly zero cost, a tremendous source of information is readily available to everyone[*].
[*] everyone either living in the Northwestern hemisphere or being wealthy and influencial enough.
1) Do you agree with Bob Gordon's notion?
2a) If yes, why is that, and will it change in the near future?
2b) If no, where do you see the great increase in productivity and wealth, Bob Gordon is missing?

Known Unknowns OR Unknown Knowns. (1)

deathcloset (626704) | about a year ago | (#42717193)

When predicting, there are always factors of uncertainties OR unknowns. I wonder if you would be willing to recall some of your predictions and give a few examples. What I would like to know is:

What are some things you didn't (or don't) know about but which you could (or can) predict if they would (or will) happen?

What are some things you did (or do) know about but couldn't (or can't) predict if they would (or will) happen?

I guess I've asked two questions actually, but maybe you could have predicted I would do that from the comment subject ;)

Synthetic biology (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42717201)

George Church's book Regenesis has cause a large stir, especially among the scientifically illiterate. Will controversies like the one spawned by Church's tongue-in-cheek proposal to clone a neanderthal create a bubble in public interest in synthetic biology that will burst later? In other words, is synthetic biology turning into a hyped field that will eventually elicit a public backlash? I have a career staked on the outcome of the field of synthetic biology...

Scarcity and capitalism (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42717247)

How do you see capitalist countries solving the unemployment crisis that will come about as a prelude to a lack of scarcity and full automation of necessary systems?

My question (1)

Dexter Herbivore (1322345) | about a year ago | (#42717253)

Ray, what do you foresee as the main short and long term effects of capturing an asteroid and bringing it into Earth orbit? (As currently being discussed on /.)

Self Promoter (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42717287)

I'd echo the sentiments above about him merely being a self-promoter.
Perhaps he "invents" all this stuff in the same sense that SCO "invented" unix.
Try signing up for his Kno reader. I did. Bunches of marketing hype surrounding a trivial piece of shite.

Dangers of Artificial Intelligence (2)

ahbond (768662) | about a year ago | (#42717331)

Is AI more dangerous than nuclear weapons? I'd like to hear your thoughts on how/if this technology should be controlled / monitored.

HBP vs. Google (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42717433)

Would you say that building a Human Brain simulation is approached differently in europe vs. america? Is it so that here in europe we have EU funding for a human brain project where in america you can only research this on private moneys? Would you jump ship from Google and come to europe if HBP is successful?

Human learning, education, cognition (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42717439)

Mr. Kurzweil,

I appreciate all that you've done to advance science and human understanding. I note that your new position with Google is one related to machine learning and language processing; I'd like to ask you, instead, about human teaching and learning.

Much has been made of digital technology and its utility for human learning; search engines provide us with access to vast information resources, and online massive classes are educating millions. These tools have advanced rapidly. Yet classroom education looks much the same as it always has, and many doubt that our current classroom education system is enabling young people to become adult contributors to the workforce and democracy. There are many projections, all intriguing. But I don't know yours.

I wonder about your vision for an improved education system. To keep this question fun and more specific, I'll pose: In 2030, what are the salient instructional interactions in the daily educational experience of a 13 year old (current 8th grader)?

Thanks and all the best,

Dave

Jobs (1)

Andrew Osiris (2826645) | about a year ago | (#42717739)

Computers and robotics are already taking a lot of jobs. How do you forsee society transitioning to a cuture without the need for many workers? In America a lot of people view those who are not gainfully employed as takers. What happens when there are 8 billion people and only 1 billion jobs?
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