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TUESDAY DECEMBER 21,  2010

                                                GUEST:

                                              (Originally aired: 02-01-99)

                                       RAY  KURZWEIL

                 

    

                 Author, Entrepreneur, Scientist, Futurist

                                            

                  Author: "The Age of Spiritual Machines -

               When Computers Exceed Human Intelligence"

                 

     Co-creator of the Film: "The Singularity if Near - The Movie"

     To be Premièred in New York  Thursday June 24, 2010

                                   www.kurzweilai.net

                       The Singularity Is Near: The Movie

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  The program can be viewed in its entirety by clicking the you tube link below:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=97c2ezJ_1U8 - RAY KURZWEIL

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More about: RAY KURZWEIL (To be added)

Ray Kurzweil the Cybernetic Inventor, Entrepreneur and Futurist Phiosopher talks about his book "The Age of Spiritual Machines" almost on the day it was released in January of 1999. He recounts his earler publication "The Age of Intelligent Machines" and offers many illuminating projections of likly futre Cyberentic developments.

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The Singularity Is Near: The Movie does exactly what Ray Kurzweil set out to do. It's a movie version of the book, with two running through lines. In documentary style, we have Ray discussing his ideas about the Singularity, with commentators variously supporting or refuting or worrying about his ideas. With Bill McKibben in the role of the friendly flat out opponent; Bill Joy playing the reasonable but worried man; and Mitch Kapor doubting the technological possibilities -- they are all worked into the weave to (at least) let us know that not everybody believes that a) The Singularity is Coming and b) It's going to work out well. K. Eric Drexler, MIT roboticist Cynthia Breazeal, desktop manufacturing guru Neil Gershenfeld and many many more are woven in to support the idea -- and the more hopeful potentials -- of accelerating change leading to radical alterations in life (itself).

The value added here for those h+ types already familiar with this discourse includes the clarity and concise expression of the ideas presented in Ray's doorstopper sized book, and lots of very groovy, trippy, and playful graphics (including an apparent parody of the opening of Fringe.)

And then there's the integration of a fictional narrative into the whole thing.

The story revolves around Ramona, Kurzweil's alter ego and virtual/AI persona. This is the same Ramona who is interviewed throughout The Singularity Is Near book, where her role is to tell us what life is like at various points in time in the future. To some extent, she plays that same role here, but she also supplies some drama. And while the acting here will not win any academy awards, Ramona is put into several perilous situations and -- one of them, at least -- is rather affecting. (I'm not going to give anything away, except to say that there's a courtroom scene, and you'll find yourself rooting for her.) There are some funny elements too, including a very direct nod at The Matrix.

Ultimately, like the book, The Singularity Is Near: The Movie is an advocacy/teaching film. I wouldn't count on cinema critics to find in it a glorious work of art. But it's a total blast to sit through (even with Tony Robbins and Alan Dershowitz) and it's definitely going to get around and blow minds, spark debate, thought and study. Singularitarians will want to show this to friends and family, and even for those who don't believe in the singularity but support transhumanist ideas, there's a whole lot about nanotech, biotech and AI to tweak interest and excitement.

I can't wait to see the final version.

 

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Ray Kurzweil

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

 
Ray Kurzweil

Ray Kurzweil
Born February 12, 1948 (1948-02-12) (age 62)
Queens, New York,
United States
Occupation Author, entrepreneur, scientist and futurist
Spouse(s) Sonya R. Kurzweil
Children Ethan, Amy

Raymond "Ray" Kurzweil (pronounced /ˈkɜrzwaɪl/ KERZ-wyel; born February 12, 1948) is an American inventor and futurist. He is involved in fields as diverse as optical character recognition (OCR), text-to-speech synthesis, speech recognition technology, and electronic keyboard instruments. He is the author of several books on health, artificial intelligence (AI), transhumanism, the technological singularity, and futurism.

Contents

[hide]

[edit] Life, inventions, and business career

[edit] Early life

Ray Kurzweil grew up in the New York City borough of Queens. He was born to secular Jewish parents who had escaped Austria just before the onset of World War II, and he was exposed via Unitarian Universalism to a diversity of religious faiths during his upbringing. His father was a musician and composer and his mother was a visual artist. His uncle, an engineer at Bell Labs, taught young Ray the basics of computer science.[1] In his youth, he was an avid reader of science fiction literature. In 1963, at age fifteen, he wrote his first computer program. Designed to process statistical data, the program was used by researchers at IBM.[2] Later in high school he created a sophisticated pattern-recognition software program that analyzed the works of classical composers, and then synthesized its own songs in similar styles. The capabilities of this invention were so impressive that, in 1965, he was invited to appear on the CBS television program I've Got a Secret, where he performed a piano piece that was composed by a computer he also had built.[3] Later that year, he won first prize in the International Science Fair for the invention,[4] and he was also recognized by the Westinghouse Talent Search and was personally congratulated by President Lyndon B. Johnson during a White House ceremony.

[edit] Mid-life

In 1968, during his sophomore year at MIT, Kurzweil started a company that used a computer program to match high school students with colleges. The program, called the Select College Consulting Program, was designed by him and compared thousands of different criteria about each college with questionnaire answers submitted by each student applicant. When he was 20, he sold the company to Harcourt, Brace & World for $100,000 (roughly $500,000 in 2006 dollars) plus royalties.[5] He earned a BS in Computer Science and Literature in 1970 from MIT.

In 1974, Kurzweil started the company Kurzweil Computer Products, Inc. and led development of the first omni-font optical character recognition system—a computer program capable of recognizing text written in any normal font. Before that time, scanners had only been able to read text written in a few fonts. He decided that the best application of this technology would be to create a reading machine, which would allow blind people to understand written text by having a computer read it to them aloud. However, this device required the invention of two enabling technologies—the CCD flatbed scanner and the text-to-speech synthesizer. Under his direction, development of these technologies was completed,[citation needed] and on January 13, 1976, the finished product was unveiled during a news conference headed by him and the leaders of the National Federation of the Blind. Called the Kurzweil Reading Machine, the device covered an entire tabletop. It gained him mainstream recognition: on the day of the machine's unveiling, Walter Cronkite used the machine to give his signature soundoff, "And that's the way it is, January 13, 1976." While listening to The Today Show, musician Stevie Wonder heard a demonstration of the device and purchased the first production version of the Kurzweil Reading Machine, beginning a lifelong friendship between himself and Kurzweil.

According to former Kurzweil Computer Products employees, the Kurzweil Reading Machine's designer was engineer Richard Brown, a KCP employee at the time[citation needed].

Kurzweil's next major business venture began in 1978, when Kurzweil Computer Products began selling a commercial version of the optical character recognition computer program. LexisNexis was one of the first customers, and bought the program to upload paper legal and news documents onto its nascent online databases.

Two years later, Kurzweil sold his company to Xerox, which had an interest in further commercializing paper-to-computer text conversion. Kurzweil Computer Products became a subsidiary of Xerox formerly known as Scansoft and now as Nuance Communications, and he functioned as a consultant for the former until 1995.

Kurzweil's next business venture was in the realm of electronic music technology. After a 1982 meeting with Stevie Wonder, in which the latter lamented the divide in capabilities and qualities between electronic synthesizers and traditional musical instruments, Kurzweil was inspired to create a new generation of music synthesizers capable of accurately duplicating the sounds of real instruments. Kurzweil Music Systems was founded in the same year, and in 1984, the Kurzweil K250 was unveiled. The machine was capable of imitating a number of instruments, and in tests musicians were unable to discern the difference between the Kurzweil K250 on piano mode from a normal grand piano.[6] The recording and mixing abilities of the machine, coupled with its abilities to imitate different instruments made it possible for a single user to compose and play an entire orchestral piece.

Kurzweil Music Systems was sold to Korean musical instrument manufacturer Young Chang in 1990. As with Xerox, Kurzweil remained as a consultant for several years.

[edit] Later life

Concurrent with Kurzweil Music Systems, Kurzweil created the company Kurzweil Applied Intelligence (KAI) to develop computer speech recognition systems for commercial use. The first product, which debuted in 1987, was the world's first large-vocabulary speech recognition program, allowing human users to dictate to their computers via microphone and then have the device transcribe their speech into written text. Later, the company combined the speech recognition technology with medical expert systems to create the Kurzweil VoiceMed (today called Clinical Reporter) line of products, which allow doctors to write medical reports by speaking instead of writing. KAI exists today as Nuance Communications.

Kurzweil started Kurzweil Educational Systems in 1996 to develop new pattern-recognition-based computer technologies to help people with disabilities such as blindness, dyslexia and ADD in school. Products include the Kurzweil 1000 text-to-speech converter software program, which enables a computer to read electronic and scanned text aloud to blind or visually-impaired users, and the Kurzweil 3000 program, which is a multifaceted electronic learning system that helps with reading, writing, and study skills.

Raymond Kurzweil at the Singularity Summit at Stanford in 2006

During the 1990s Kurzweil founded the Medical Learning Company.[7] The company's products included an interactive computer education program for doctors and a computer-simulated patient. Around the same time, Kurzweil started KurzweilCyberArt.com—a website featuring computer programs to assist the creative art process. The site used to offer free downloads of a program called AARON—a visual art synthesizer developed by Harold Cohen—and of "Kurzweil's Cybernetic Poet", which automatically creates poetry. During this period he also started KurzweilAI.net, a website devoted towards showcasing news of scientific developments, publicizing the ideas of high-tech thinkers and critics alike, and promoting futurist-related discussion among the general population through the Mind-X forum.

In 1999, Kurzweil created a hedge fund called "FatKat" (Financial Accelerating Transactions from Kurzweil Adaptive Technologies) http://www.fatkat.com, which began trading in 2006. He has stated that the ultimate aim is to improve the performance of FatKat's A.I. investment software program, enhancing its ability to recognize patterns in "currency fluctuations and stock-ownership trends."[8] He predicted in his 1999 book, The Age of Spiritual Machines, that computers will one day prove superior to the best human financial minds at making profitable investment decisions. In 2001, Canadian rock band Our Lady Peace released an album, titled Spiritual Machines, based on Kurzweil's book. Kurzweil's voice was featured in the album, reading excerpts from his book.

In June 2005, Kurzweil introduced the "Kurzweil-National Federation of the Blind Reader" (K-NFB Reader)—a pocket-sized device consisting of a digital camera and computer unit. Like the Kurzweil Reading Machine of almost 30 years before, the K-NFB Reader is designed to aid blind people by reading written text aloud. The newer machine is portable and scans text through digital camera images, while the older machine is large and scans text through flatbed scanning.

Kurzweil is currently making a movie due for release in 2010 called The Singularity is Near: A True Story About the Future[9] based, in part, on his 2005 book The Singularity Is Near. Part fiction, part non-fiction, he interviews 20 big thinkers like Marvin Minsky, plus there is a B-line narrative story that illustrates some of the ideas, where a computer avatar (Ramona) saves the world from self-replicating microscopic robots.

In addition to Kurzweil's movie, an independent, feature-length documentary was made about Kurzweil, his life, and his ideas called Transcendent Man. Filmmakers Barry and Felicia Ptolemy followed Kurzweil, documenting his global speaking tour. Premiered in 2009 at the Tribeca Film Festival,[9] Transcendent Man documents Kurzweil'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. The Ptolemys documented Kurzweil's stated goal of bringing back his late father using AI. The film also features critics who argue against Kurzweil's predictions.

Kurzweil said during a 2006 C-SPAN2 interview that he was working on a new book that focused on the inner workings of the human brain and how this could be applied to building AI.

While being interviewed for a February 2009 issue of Rolling Stone magazine, Kurzweil expressed a desire to construct a genetic copy of his late father, Fredric Kurzweil, from DNA within his grave site. This feat would be achieved by deploying various nanorobots to send samples of DNA back from the grave, constructing a clone of Fredric and retrieving memories and recollections—from Ray's mind—of his father.[10]

[edit] Books

Kurzweil's first book, The Age of Intelligent Machines, was published in 1990. The nonfiction work discusses the history of computer AI and also makes forecasts regarding likely future developments. Other experts in the field of AI contribute heavily to the work in the form of essays. The Association of American Publishers' awarded it the status of Most Outstanding Computer Science Book of 1990.[11]

Next, Kurzweil published a book on nutrition in 1993 called The 10% Solution for a Healthy Life. The book's main idea is that high levels of fat intake are the cause of many health disorders common in the U.S., and thus that cutting fat consumption down to 10% of the total calories consumed would be optimal for most people.

In 1998, Kurzweil published The Age of Spiritual Machines, which focuses heavily on further elucidating his theories regarding the future of technology, which themselves stem from his analysis of long-term trends in biological and technological evolution. Much focus goes into examining the likely course of AI development, along with the future of computer architecture.

Kurzweil's next book published in 2004, returned to the subject of human health and nutrition. Fantastic Voyage: Live Long Enough to Live Forever was co-authored by Kurzweil and Terry Grossman, a medical doctor and specialist in alternative medicine.

The Singularity Is Near was published in 2005. The book is currently being made into a movie starring Pauley Perrette (NCIS), and scheduled for 2010 release.[12][13]

In February 2007, Ptolemaic Productions acquired the rights to The Singularity is Near, The Age of Spiritual Machines and Fantastic Voyage including the rights to Kurzweil's life and ideas for the film Transcendent Man. The feature length documentary was directed by Barry Ptolemy.

Kurzweil's newest book, Transcend: Nine Steps to Living Well Forever,[14] a follow-up on Fantastic Voyage, was released on April 28, 2009.

The book he's currently working on is called "How The Mind Works and How To Build One".[15]

[edit] Recognition and awards

Kurzweil has been called the successor and "rightful heir to Thomas Edison", and was also referred to by Forbes as "the ultimate thinking machine."[16][17][18]

Kurzweil has received these awards, among others:

  • First place in the 1965 International Science Fair[4] for inventing the classical music synthesizing computer.
  • The 1978 Grace Murray Hopper Award from the Association for Computing Machinery. The award is given annually to one "outstanding young computer professional" and is accompanied by a $35,000 prize.[19] Kurzweil won it for his invention of the Kurzweil Reading Machine.[20]
  • The 1990 "Engineer of the Year" award from Design News.[21]
  • The 1994 Dickson Prize in Science. One is awarded every year by Carnegie Mellon University to individuals who have "notably advanced the field of science." Both a medal and a $50,000 prize are presented to winners.[22]
  • The 1998 "Inventor of the Year" award from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.[23]
  • The 1999 National Medal of Technology.[24] This is the highest award the President of the United States can bestow upon individuals and groups for pioneering new technologies, and the President dispenses the award at his discretion.[25] Bill Clinton presented Kurzweil with the National Medal of Technology during a White House ceremony in recognition of Kurzweil's development of computer-based technologies to help the disabled.
  • The 2000 Telluride Tech Festival Award of Technology.[26] Two other individuals also received the same honor that year. The award is presented yearly to people who "exemplify the life, times and standard of contribution of Tesla, Westinghouse and Nunn."
  • The 2001 Lemelson-MIT Prize for a lifetime of developing technologies to help the disabled and to enrich the arts.[27] Only one is meted out each year to highly successful, mid-career inventors. A $500,000 award accompanies the prize.[28]
  • Kurzweil was inducted into the National Inventors Hall of Fame in 2002 for inventing the Kurzweil Reading Machine.[29] The organization "honors the women and men responsible for the great technological advances that make human, social and economic progress possible."[30] Fifteen other people were inducted into the Hall of Fame the same year.[31]
  • The Arthur C. Clarke Lifetime Achievement Award on April 20, 2009 for lifetime achievement as an inventor and futurist in computer-based technologies.[32]
  • Kurzweil claims to have received seventeen honorary degrees from as many institutions, although independent articles that verify such a claim do not exist:
Type of degree College Year awarded
Honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters[33] Hofstra University 1982
Honorary Doctorate of Music[33] Berklee College of Music 1987
Honorary Doctorate of Science[33] Northeastern University 1988
Honorary Doctorate of Science[33] Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute 1988
Honorary Doctorate of Engineering[33] Merrimack College 1989
Honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters[33] Misericordia University 1989
Honorary Doctorate of Science[33] New Jersey Institute of Technology 1990
Honorary Doctorate of Science[33] Queens College, City University of New York 1991
Honorary Doctorate of Science[33] Dominican College 1993
Honorary Doctorate in Science and Humanities[33] Michigan State University 2000
Honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters[33][34] Landmark College 2002
Honorary Doctorate of Science[33] Worcester Polytechnic Institute 2005
Honorary Doctorate of Science[33] DePaul University 2006
Honorary Doctorate of Science[33] Bloomfield College 2007
Honorary Doctorate of Science[35] McGill University 2008
Honorary Doctorate of Science[36] Clarkson University 2009
Honorary Doctorate of Science[37] New York Institute of Technology 2010

[edit] Involvement with futurism and transhumanism

After several years of closely tracking trends in the computer and machine industries, Kurzweil came to a realization: the innovation rate of computer technology was increasing not linearly but rather exponentially. With this, Kurzweil formed a method of predicting the course of technological development. As a computer scientist, Kurzweil also understood that there was no technical reason that this type of performance growth could not continue well into the 21st century.

Since growth in so many fields of science and technology depends upon computing power, such improvements translate into improvements to human knowledge and to non-computer sciences like nanotechnology, biotechnology, and materials science. Considering the ongoing exponential growth in computer capabilities, this means many new technologies will become available long before the majority of people—who intuitively think linearly about technological progress—expect. This core idea is expressed by Kurzweil's "Law of Accelerating Returns".

Kurzweil projects that between now and 2050 medical advances will allow people to radically extend their lifespans while preserving and even improving quality of life as they age. The aging process could at first be slowed, then halted, and then reversed as newer and better medical technologies became available. Kurzweil argues that much of this will be due to advances in medical nanotechnology, which will allow microscopic machines to travel through one's body and repair all types of damage at the cellular level. Equally consequential developments will occur within the realm of computers as they become increasingly powerful, numerous and cheap between now and 2050. Kurzweil predicts that a computer will pass the Turing test by 2029, by demonstrating to have a mind indistinguishable from a human's in terms of knowledge, emotion and self-awareness. He predicts that the first AI will be a computer simulation of a human brain which will be created thanks to hyperaccurate brainscanning done by advanced medical nanomachines inserted into a real human brain. Kurzweil suggests that AIs will inevitably become far smarter and more powerful than unenhanced humans. He also believes that AIs will exhibit moral thinking and will respect humans as their ancestors. According to his predictions, the line between humans and machines will blur as machines attain human-level intelligence and humans start upgrading themselves with cybernetic implants. These implants will greatly enhance human cognitive and physical abilities, and allow direct interface between humans and machines.

Kurzweil's standing as a leading futurist and Transhumanist has gained him positions of prominence within pertinent organizations:

In February 2009, Kurzweil, in cooperation with Google and the NASA Ames Research Center, announced the creation of Singularity University. The University's self-described mission is to "assemble, educate and inspire a cadre of leaders who strive to understand and facilitate the development of exponentially advancing technologies and apply, focus and guide these tools to address humanity’s grand challenges".[41] Using Kurzweil's Singularity concept as a foundation, the University, whose initial class of 40 Fellows began their nine-week graduate program in June, 2009, provides students the skills and tools to guide the process of the Singularity "for the benefit of humanity and its environment". Singularity U encompasses cross-disciplinary studies in ten different scientific and future-oriented tracks, taught by industry experts.

[edit] Stand on nanotechnology

Kurzweil is on the Army Science Advisory Board, has testified before Congress on the subject of nanotechnology, and sees considerable potential in the science to solve significant global problems such as poverty, disease, and climate change, viz. Nanotech Could Give Global Warming a Big Chill (July, 2006).[42]

He predicts nanobots will be used to maintain the human body and to extend the human lifespan.[3][43]

Kurzweil has stressed the extreme potential dangers of nanotechnology,[3] but argues that in practice, progress cannot be stopped, and any attempt to do so will retard the progress of defensive and beneficial technologies more than the malevolent ones, increasing the danger. He says that the proper place of regulation is to make sure progress proceeds safely and quickly. He applies this reasoning to biotechnology, artificial intelligence, and technology in general.[citation needed]

[edit] The Law of Accelerating Returns

In his controversial 2001 essay, "The Law of Accelerating Returns", Kurzweil proposes an extension of Moore's law that forms the basis of the concept of "Technological Singularity".[44]

[edit] Predictions

[edit] The Age of Intelligent Machines

Arguably, Kurzweil gained a large amount of credibility as a futurist from his first book The Age of Intelligent Machines. It was written from 1986 to 1989 and published in 1990. Building on Ithiel de Sola Pool's "Technologies of Freedom" (1983), Kurzweil forecast the demise of the Soviet Union due to new technologies such as cellular phones and fax machines disempowering authoritarian governments by removing state control over the flow of information. In the book Kurzweil also extrapolated preexisting trends in the improvement of computer chess software performance to predict correctly that computers would beat the best human players by 1998, and most likely in that year. In fact, the event occurred in May 1997 when chess World Champion Garry Kasparov was defeated by IBM's Deep Blue computer in a well-publicized chess tournament. Perhaps most significantly, Kurzweil foresaw the explosive growth in worldwide Internet use that began in the 1990s. At the time of the publication of The Age of Intelligent Machines, there were only 2.6 million Internet users in the world,[45] and the medium was unreliable, difficult to use, and deficient in content, making Kurzweil's realization of its future potential especially prescient, given the technology's limits at that time. He also stated that the Internet would explode not only in the number of users but in content as well, eventually granting users access "to international networks of libraries, data bases, and information services". Additionally, Kurzweil correctly foresaw that the preferred mode of Internet access would inevitably be through wireless systems, and he was also correct to estimate that the latter would become practical for widespread use in the early 21st century.

Kurzweil also accurately forecast that, by the end of the 1990s, many documents would exist solely in computers and on the Internet, and that they would commonly be embedded with sounds, animations, and videos that would inhibit their transfer to paper format. Moreover, he foresaw that cellular phones would grow in popularity while shrinking in size for the foreseeable future.

[edit] The Age of Spiritual Machines

In 1999, Kurzweil published a second book titled The Age of Spiritual Machines, which goes into more depth explaining his futurist ideas. The third and final section of the book is devoted to elucidating the specific course of technological advancements Kurzweil predicts the world will experience over the next century. Titled "To Face the Future", the section is divided into four chapters respectively named "2009", "2019", "2029", and "2099". In each chapter, Kurzweil makes predictions about what life and technology will be like in that year.

While the veracity of Kurzweil's predictions beyond 2009 cannot yet be determined, many of the ideas of the "2009" chapter have been scrutinized. To begin, Kurzweil's claims that 2009 would be a year of continued transition as purely electronic computer memory continued to replace older rotating memory seems to be disproved by continued rapid growth in hard-disk capacity and unit sales,[46] while high-capacity flash drives have yet to catch on in high-volume applications. Nonetheless, solid state storage is the preferred means of storage in low-volume applications such as MP3 players, handheld gaming systems, cellular phones and digital cameras. Many companies produce a 256 GB solid state drive for use in laptops and desktops, but these drives will cost over $600, making storage on them cost roughly five times the price of comparable hard-disk storage. On the other hand, Kurzweil correctly foresaw the growing ubiquity of wireless Internet access and cordless computer peripherals. Perhaps of more importance, Kurzweil presaged the explosive growth in peer-to-peer filesharing and the emergence of the Internet as a major medium for commerce and for accessing media such as movies, television programs, newspaper and magazine text, and music. He also claimed that three-dimensional computer chips would be in common use by 2009 (though older, "2-D" chips would still predominate). But although IBM has recently developed the necessary chip-stacking technology and announced plans to begin using three-dimensional chips in its supercomputers and for wireless communication applications, chip stacking remains a low-volume technology in 2009.[47]

[edit] The Singularity is Near

While this book focuses on the future of technology and the human race as did The Age of Intelligent Machines and The Age of Spiritual Machines, Kurzweil makes very few concrete, short-term predictions in The Singularity is Near, though longer-term visions are present in abundance. He recently discussed the singularity with Vice Magazine[48] and was filmed for a documentary on the magazine online network VBS.tv.[49]

[edit] Solar Power and Grand Challenges of the 21st Century

In 2010, Ray Kurzweil said in an expert panel in the National Academy of Engineering that solar power will scale up to produce all the energy needs of Earth's people in 20 years. [50]

[edit] Work on nutrition, health, and lifestyle

Kurzweil admits that he cared little for his health until age 35, when he was diagnosed with a glucose intolerance, an early form of type II diabetes (a major risk factor for heart disease). Kurzweil then found a doctor that shares his non-conventional beliefs to develop an extreme regimen involving hundreds of pills, chemical i.v. treatments, red wine and various other methods to attempt to live longer.

Kurzweil believes that the radical technological advances made throughout the 21st century will ultimately culminate with the discovery of means to reverse the aging process, cure any disease, and repair presently unrepairable injuries. Kurzweil has thus focused himself towards following a lifestyle intended to heighten his odds of living to see the day when science can make him immortal. Kurzweil calls this the "Bridge to a Bridge to a Bridge" strategy: The first bridge to longer life is Kurzweil's regimen, whereas the second- and third bridges are based on advanced biotechnologies and nanotechnologies, respectively, that have not yet been invented. Kurzweil believes they will allow for progressively longer human lifespans to the point of immortality and that successfully implementing the first "bridge" now allows one to reach the second in the future, which then allows one to reach the third.

Some elements of Kurzweil's lifestyle are conventional. He exercises frequently, does not eat to excess, and does not abuse recreational drugs. Many others, however, are controversial and may be explained by his obsession with living as long as possible. Kurzweil ingests "250 supplements, eight to 10 glasses of alkaline water and 10 cups of green tea" every day and drinks several glasses of red wine a week in an effort to "reprogram" his biochemistry.[51] Lately, he has cut down the number of supplement pills to 150.[52]

Although not supported by science,[53] Kurzweil and many others believe that consuming large amounts of water is necessary for flushing toxins out of the body, and that alkaline water allows the body to preserve important enzymes used for neutralizing acidic metabolic wastes. For this reason, Kurzweil abhors soft drinks and coffee, which are both acidic. Kurzweil believes that acidic drinks drain detoxifying enzyme reserves. Kurzweil has taken criticism from nutritionists and scientists for his advocacy of alkaline water's alleged health benefits and other unconventional beliefs, and he responded to this over the Internet.[54] Green tea and red wine contain antioxidants that neutralize free radicals. Kurzweil also consumes red wine because it contains the compound resveratrol, which may help to fight heart disease according to some evidence, but it is also a potentiator of breast carcinomas which may prove to out-weigh any suggested benefit.[55] Kurzweil also takes pills containing high concentrations of the chemical because the amount in red wine is extremely inconsistent.

On weekends, Kurzweil also undergoes intravenous transfusions of chemical cocktails at a clinic which he believes will reprogram his biochemistry. He routinely measures the chemical composition of his own bodily fluids, undergoes preemptive medical tests for many diseases and disorders, and keeps detailed records about the content of all the meals he eats. On that last note, Kurzweil only eats organic foods with low glycemic loads and claims it has been years since he last consumed anything containing sugar. Kurzweil considers foods rich in sugars and carbohydrates to be unhealthy since they spike the levels of glucose and insulin in the bloodstream, leading to health problems in the long term. He instead eats mainly vegetables, lean meats, tofu, and low glycemic load carbohydrates, and only uses extra virgin olive oil for cooking. Kurzweil also diligently eats foods rich with Omega-3 fatty acids (including small, wild salmon).

Moreover, Kurzweil makes it a priority to get sufficient sleep for physical and psychological health, and he maintains low stress levels in part by meditating and getting massages weekly. He exercises daily with walking, bike-riding and using workout machines, but advises against high-impact forms of exercise. Kurzweil claims that his rigorous efforts have yielded positive results, pointing to his vitamin-selling business partner who claims his "biological age" is more than a decade younger than his chronological age. In fact, Kurzweil claims that his personal health regimen has actually slowed down his rate of aging. He also advocates maintaining a slightly below-average body weight on the grounds that it imparts some of the life-extension benefits of full caloric restriction.

Kurzweil joined the Alcor Life Extension Foundation, a cryonics company. In the event of his death, Kurzweil's body will be chemically preserved, frozen in liquid nitrogen, and stored at an Alcor facility in the hope that future medical technology will be able to revive him.

Kurzweil has authored three books on the subjects of nutrition, health and immortality: The 10% Solution for a Healthy Life, Fantastic Voyage: Live Long Enough to Live Forever and TRANSCEND: Nine Steps to Living Well Forever. In all, he recommends that other people emulate his health practices to the best of their abilities.

Kurzweil and his current "anti-aging" doctor, Terry Grossman, MD., now have two websites promoting their first[56] and second book,[57] and sells their "longevity products", many of which can be found on medical scam warning sites.[58]

[edit] Stance on religion

Though Kurzweil's parents were Jewish, they raised him as a Unitarian and exposed him to many different faiths during his youth. Kurzweil gave a 2007 keynote speech to the United Church of Christ in Hartford, Connecticut, alongside Barack Obama, who was then a Presidential candidate. In The Singularity is Near he expresses a need for a new religion based on the principle of mutual respect between sentient life forms, and on the principle of respecting knowledge. This religion would not have a leader, instead being purely personal to adherents.

[edit] Criticism

Even beyond philosophical arguments over whether a machine can "think" (see Philosophy of artificial intelligence), Kurzweil's ideas have generated much criticism within the scientific community and in the media. Mitch Kapor, the founder of Lotus Development Corporation, has called the notion of a technological singularity "intelligent design for the IQ 140 people...This proposition that we're heading to this point at which everything is going to be just unimaginably different—it's fundamentally, in my view, driven by a religious impulse. And all of the frantic arm-waving can't obscure that fact for me."[59]

VR pioneer Jaron Lanier has been one of the strongest critics of Kurzweil’s ideas, describing them as “cybernetic totalism” (totalitarianism), and has outlined his views on the culture surrounding Kurzweil’s predictions in an essay for Edge.org entitled One Half of a Manifesto.[60]

Pulitzer Prize winner Douglas Hofstadter, author of Gödel, Escher, Bach, has said of Kurzweil's and Hans Moravec's books: "It’s as if you took a lot of very good food and some dog excrement and blended it all up so that you can't possibly figure out what's good or bad. It's an intimate mixture of rubbish and good ideas, and it's very hard to disentangle the two, because these are smart people; they're not stupid."[61]

Although the idea of a technological singularity is a popular concept in science fiction, some authors such as Neal Stephenson[62] and Bruce Sterling have voiced scepticism about its real-world plausibility. Sterling expressed his views on the singularity scenario in a talk at the Long Now Foundation entitled The Singularity: Your Future as a Black Hole.[63][64] Other prominent AI thinkers and computer scientists such as Daniel Dennett,[65] Rodney Brooks,[66] and David Gelernter[67] have also criticized Kurzweil’s projections.

Bill Joy, cofounder of Sun Microsystems, agrees with Kurzweil's timeline of future progress, but thinks that technologies such as AI, nanotechnology and advanced biotechnology will create a dystopian world.[68]

Daniel Lyons, writing in Newsweek, criticized Kurzweil for some of his predictions which turned out to be wrong; such as the economy continuing to boom from the 1998 dot-com through 2009, a US company having a market capitalization of more than $1 trillion, a supercomputer achieving 20 petaflops, speech recognition being in widespread use and cars that would drive themselves using sensors installed in highways; all by 2009.[69] To the charge that 20 petaflop supercomputer was not produced in the time he predicted, Kurzweil responded that he considers Google a giant supercomputer, and that it is capable of 20 petaflops.[69]

Biologist P.Z. Myers has criticized Kurzweil's predictions as being based on "New Age spiritualism" rather than science and says that Kurzweil does not understand basic biology.[70] Myers also says that Kurzweil picks and chooses events that appear to demonstrate his claim of exponential technological increase leading up to a singularity, and ignores events that do not.[71]

[edit] See also

[edit] References

  1. ^ Inventor of the Week
  2. ^ KurzweilAI.net
  3. ^ a b c In Depth: Ray Kurzweil. Book TV. 2006-11-05. http://www.booktv.org/Program/7515/In+Depth+Ray+Kurzweil.aspx. Retrieved 2010-05-18. 
  4. ^ a b "Alumni Honors". Society for Science and the Public. http://www.societyforscience.org/Page.aspx?pid=261. Retrieved 2010-05-18. 
  5. ^ http://www.kurzweiltech.com/raybio.html
  6. ^ links.jstor.org
  7. ^ See details at: http://investing.businessweek.com/businessweek/research/stocks/private/person.asp?personId=542059.
  8. ^ "The smartest (or the nuttiest) futurist on Earth". CNN. May 2, 2007. http://money.cnn.com/magazines/fortune/fortune_archive/2007/05/14/100008848/. Retrieved May 22, 2010. 
  9. ^ a b Raymond Kurzweil at the Internet Movie Database
  10. ^ KUSHNER, David (February 19, 2009), "When Man & Machine Merge", Rolling Stone, http://www.rollingstone.com/news/story/25939914/when_man__machine_merge 
  11. ^ Era of smart people is dawning
  12. ^ "Coming Soon to a Theater Near You: The Singularity". http://www.wired.com/entertainment/hollywood/news/2007/11/kurzweil_qa. Retrieved 2008-01-12. 
  13. ^ Singularity The Movie release date
  14. ^ "Transcend: Nine Steps to Living Well Forever". http://www.rayandterry.com/transcend/. 
  15. ^ "Interview H+ Magazine Winter 2009". http://www.hplusmagazine.com/articles/ai/ray-kurzweil-h-interview. 
  16. ^ http://www.kurzweiltech.com/rayspeakerbio.html
  17. ^ Survival of the Machines
  18. ^ Renowned Futurist Ray Kurzweil to Keynote the 2008 Game Developers Conference
  19. ^ ACM Awards: Grace Murray Hopper Award
  20. ^ ACM: Fellows Award / Raymond Kurzweil
  21. ^ Engineer of the Year Hall of Fame, 6/12/2007
  22. ^ Dickson Prize
  23. ^ Corporation names new members
  24. ^ National Medal of Technology Recipients, Technology Administration
  25. ^ The National Medal of Technology
  26. ^ Telluride Tech Festival
  27. ^ Winners' Circle: Raymond Kurzweil
  28. ^ Lemelson-MIT Prize
  29. ^ Ray Kurzweil Inventor Profile
  30. ^ Hall of Fame Overview
  31. ^ Hall of Fame 2002
  32. ^ Ray Kurzweil receives Arthur C. Clarke Lifetime Achievement Award
  33. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n http://www.kurzweiltech.com/raycv.html
  34. ^ http://www.planetpatent.com/Articles/RayKurzweilLandmarkInventions.htm
  35. ^ http://www.mcgill.ca/newsroom/news/item/?item_id=100220
  36. ^ http://www.clarkson.edu/news/view.php?id=2249
  37. ^ http://www.nyit.edu/index.php/commencement/images_viewer/nyit_commencement_2010_raymond_kurweil/
  38. ^ singinst.org
  39. ^ lifeboat.com
  40. ^ sfgate.com
  41. ^ http://singularityu.org/about/faq/
  42. ^ Nanotech Could Give Global Warming a Big Chill (July, 2006)
  43. ^ "Machines 'to match man by 2029'". BBC News. 2008-02-16. http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/americas/7248875.stm. Retrieved 2008-02-17. 
  44. ^ "The Law of Accelerating Returns"
  45. ^ Fleeing the dot.com era: decline in Internet usage
  46. ^ Uncertain times for local chipmakers
  47. ^ IBM Extends Moore's Law to the Third Dimension
  48. ^ RAY KURZWEIL- That Singularity Guy Vice magazine. April 2009
  49. ^ Youtube video :The Singularity of Ray Kurzweil
  50. ^ http://www.livescience.com/environment/080219-kurzweil-solar.html
  51. ^ Wired News: " Never Say Die: Live Forever"
  52. ^ Glenn Beck Interview with Ray Kurzweil
  53. ^ Five Myths About Water
  54. ^ Ray Kurweil Discusses Alkaline and Ionized Water
  55. ^ Quackwatch.org article about resveratrol
  56. ^ Fantasic Voyage
  57. ^ Ray and Terry's
  58. ^ Quackwatch.org's list of supplements, etc.
  59. ^ O'Keefe, Brian (2007-05-02). "The smartest (or the nuttiest) futurist on Earth". Fortune. http://money.cnn.com/magazines/fortune/fortune_archive/2007/05/14/100008848/. Retrieved 2008-08-28. 
  60. ^ Lanier, Jaron. "One Half of a Manifesto". Edge.org. http://www.edge.org/3rd_culture/lanier/lanier_p1.html. Retrieved 2008-08-28. 
  61. ^ Ross, Greg. "An interview with Douglas R. Hofstadter". American Scientist. http://www.americanscientist.org/bookshelf/pub/douglas-r-hofstadter. Retrieved 2008-08-28. 
  62. ^ Miller, Robin (2004-10-20). "Neal Stephenson Responds With Wit and Humor". Slashdot. http://interviews.slashdot.org/article.pl?sid=04/10/20/1518217. Retrieved 2008-08-28. "My thoughts are more in line with those of Jaron Lanier, who points out that while hardware might be getting faster all the time, software is shit (I am paraphrasing his argument). And without software to do something useful with all that hardware, the hardware's nothing more than a really complicated space heater." 
  63. ^ Brand, Stewart (2004-06-14). "Bruce Sterling - "The Singularity: Your Future as a Black Hole"". The Long Now Foundation. http://blog.longnow.org/2004/06/14/bruce-sterling-the-singularity-your-future-as-a-black-hole/. Retrieved 2009-06-08. 
  64. ^ Sterling, Bruce. "The Singularity: Your Future as a Black Hole" (MP3). http://media.longnow.org/seminars/salt-0200406-sterling/salt-0200406-sterling.mp3. "It’s an end-of-history notion, and like most end-of-history notions, it is showing its age." 
  65. ^ Dennett, Daniel. "The Reality Club: One Half Of A Manifesto". Edge.org. http://www.edge.org/discourse/jaron_manifesto.html#dennett. ""I'm glad that Lanier entertains the hunch that Dawkins and I (and Hofstadter and others) 'see some flaw in logic that insulates [our] thinking from the eschatalogical implications' drawn by Kurzweil and Moravec. He’s right. I, for one, do see such a flaw, and I expect Dawkins and Hofstadter would say the same."" 
  66. ^ Brooks, Rodney. "The Reality Club: One Half Of A Manifesto". Edge.org. http://www.edge.org/discourse/jaron_manifesto.html#brooks. "I do not at all agree with Moravec and Kurzweil's predictions for an eschatological cataclysm, just in time for their own memories and thoughts and person hood to be preserved before they might otherwise die." 
  67. ^ Transcript of debate over feasibility of near-term AI (moderated by Rodney Brooks): "Gelernter, Kurzweil debate machine consciousness". KurzweilAI.net. http://www.edge.org/discourse/jaron_manifesto.html#brooks. 
  68. ^ Joy, Bill (April 2000). "Why the future doesn't need us". Wired. http://www.wired.com/wired/archive/8.04/joy_pr.html. Retrieved 2008-09-21. "...it was only in the autumn of 1998 that I became anxiously aware of how great are the dangers facing us in the 21st century. I can date the onset of my unease to the day I met Ray Kurzweil..." 
  69. ^ a b Lyons, Daniel (May 2009). "I, Robot". Newsweek. http://www.newsweek.com/id/197812/page/2. Retrieved 2009-05-22. "During the height of the dotcom boom in 1998, Kurzweil predicted that the economy would keep on booming right through 2009 (and on to 2019, for that matter) and that one U.S. company (he didn't say which) would have a market capitalization of more than $1 trillion. Not even close. Kurzweil also predict-ed that by 2009 a top supercomputer would be capable of performing 20 quadrillion operations per second (20 petaflops in computer jargon), the same as the human brain. In fact, the top supercomputer just broke the one-petaflop mark—though Kurzweil says he considers all of Google to be a giant supercomputer and that it is, indeed, capable of performing 20 petaflops. Kurzweil also predicted that by now our cars would be able to drive themselves by communicating with intelligent sensors embedded in highways, and that speech recognition would be in widespread use." 
  70. ^ Lyons, Daniel (May 2009). "I, Robot". Newsweek. http://www.newsweek.com/id/197812. Retrieved 2009-07-24. "Still, a lot of people think Kurzweil is completely bonkers and/or full of a certain messy byproduct of ordinary biological functions. They include P. Z. Myers, a biologist at the University of Minnesota, Morris, who has used his blog to poke fun at Kurzweil and other armchair futurists who, according to Myers, rely on junk science and don't understand basic biology. "I am completely baffled by Kurzweil's popularity, and in particular the respect he gets in some circles, since his claims simply do not hold up to even casually critical examination," writes Myers. He says Kurzweil's Singularity theories are closer to a deluded religious movement than they are to science. "It's a New Age spiritualism—that's all it is," Myers says. "Even geeks want to find God somewhere, and Kurzweil provides it for them."" 
  71. ^ Myers, Paul Zachary (February 2009). "Singularly silly singularity". http://scienceblogs.com/pharyngula/2009/02/singularly_silly_singularity.php. Retrieved 2009-07-24. 

[edit] External links

 

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