10 Questions for Ray Kurzweil

What Would You Ask Ray Kurzweil

For those of you who already know who Kurzweil is and what this is about, Bart of Rhetoric and Rockets and I have the opportunity to do an email interview with him and write an article right here on ScienceCheerleader.com.

If you have a question you’re dying to ask about The Singularity, send it in and we will include it in the list for consideration. We’ll keep his open until Monday 2/16 midnight ET.

For those of you who have no idea who Ray Kurzweil is or what this is about, kindly continue reading below. RK’s most famous book, “The Singularity is Near,” talks about a fundamental transformation that is occurring in the world’s technology–not just computers, but also nanotechnology (manufacturing things at the atomic level) and biotechnology (changing the human genome to overcome illness, disease, or defects).

RK proceeds from the idea that computers have been making massive improvements in processing speed and capability every couple years. The basic theory governing this advance is Moore’s Law, which states that the number of transistors on an integrated circuit has been increasing by an order of magnitude once every two years. This is how you get computers with ten times the speed for the same amount of money. RK says that this ability to compute is allowing us to also better understand everything faster, from the human genome to climate modeling to the human bloodstream. Eventually, around 2045 or so, the world’s computers will achieve a point where they become not only superfast, but superintelligent–faster than us and smarter. This condition, called the Singularity, will enable us to do anything from extending life more or less indefinitely, accurately predict the weather a year out, or “upload” the contents of our minds into the internet–allowing our souls to more or less become “ghosts in the machine.”

Kurzweil has even partnered with NASA and Peter Diamandis of the X Prize Foundation to create a “Singularity University” to help technical, business, and political leaders understand and cope with the changes the Singularity will bring. There are more links below. I’m sure all sorts of questions can come to mind. We’ve got ours, what are yours?

http://sciencecheerleader.com/2008/11/the_next_big_future/

http://singularity.com/
http://singularityu.org/
http://bartacus.blogspot.com/2007/11/review-of-singularity-is-near-review-is.html
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Technological_singularity

 

  • Jon

    Singularity University is clearly aimed at helping to shape the Singularity and hasten its arrival. Do exponential trends really need help and, if so, can we really expect to shape them?

  • Jon

    Singularity University is clearly aimed at helping to shape the Singularity and hasten its arrival. Do exponential trends really need help and, if so, can we really expect to shape them?

  • 1) What is/will be the relationship between ethics and The Singularity? The rapid growth of science/knowledge leads to many advancements via engineering, but how can/will ethics be applied when mankind can no longer keep pace. Or will this be a problem?

    2) What to do about scientific literacy so that everyone can understand, to at least a basic level, the rapidly advancing technology?

  • 1) What is/will be the relationship between ethics and The Singularity? The rapid growth of science/knowledge leads to many advancements via engineering, but how can/will ethics be applied when mankind can no longer keep pace. Or will this be a problem?

    2) What to do about scientific literacy so that everyone can understand, to at least a basic level, the rapidly advancing technology?

  • Corey

    Given the slow and erratic progress in AI over the past 40 years, what makes Kurzweil so confident that machines will become intelligent (in the commonly understood sense) in the next 40?

    Or perhaps I should ask the flip side of the question: Suppose that things continue in much the way they are now, with increasingly powerful and miniaturized wireless devices making information available wherever we want it. Does that count as a “singularity”? It is easy for me to imagine, for instance, a brain implant that allows me to conduct Google searches purely by the power of thought–but that merging of biological and digital intelligence seems distinctly different from what Kurzweil means by singularity.

  • Corey

    Given the slow and erratic progress in AI over the past 40 years, what makes Kurzweil so confident that machines will become intelligent (in the commonly understood sense) in the next 40?

    Or perhaps I should ask the flip side of the question: Suppose that things continue in much the way they are now, with increasingly powerful and miniaturized wireless devices making information available wherever we want it. Does that count as a “singularity”? It is easy for me to imagine, for instance, a brain implant that allows me to conduct Google searches purely by the power of thought–but that merging of biological and digital intelligence seems distinctly different from what Kurzweil means by singularity.

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  • Rob

    I want to know what people interested in longevity think about the effects of donating plasma. 800ml out of the blood per donation – how does that effect the body?

  • Rob

    I want to know what people interested in longevity think about the effects of donating plasma. 800ml out of the blood per donation – how does that effect the body?