NewScientist’s interview with Ray Kurzweil

Posted: May 10, 2009 in Technology
Tags: , , , , , , ,

From the interview:

When will the Singularity arrive?

By 2045, give or take. We are already a hybrid of biological and non-biological technology. A handful of people have electronic devices in their brain, for example. The latest generation allows medical software to be downloaded to a computer inside your brain. But if you consider that 25 years from now these technologies will be 100,000 times smaller and a billion times more powerful, you get some idea of what will be feasible. And even though most of us don’t have computers in our bodies, they are already part of who we are.

What about people who don’t want to be “trans-human” and merge with technology?

How many people completely reject all medical and health technology, don’t wear glasses or take any medicine? People say they don’t want to change themselves, but then when they get a disease they will do whatever they can to overcome it. We’re not going to get from here to the world of 2030 or 2040 in one grand leap; we’re going to get there through thousands of little steps. Put these steps together and ultimately the world is a different place.

Can we outrun our current environmental problems to reach 2045?

Yes. The resources are much greater than they appear. We only have to capture 1 part in 10,000 of the sunlight to get all the energy we need. Nanotechnology is being applied to solar energy collection technology and that is scaling up at an exponential rate. Such new technologies are ultimately very inexpensive because they are subject to the law of accelerating returns.

What do you mean by the law of accelerating returns?

The power of ideas to change the world is accelerating and few people grasp the implications of that fully. People don’t think exponentially, yet exponential change applies to anything that involves measuring information content. Take genetic sequencing. When the human genome project was announced in 1990, sceptics said: “No way you’re going to do this in 15 years.” Halfway through the project the sceptics were still going strong, saying you’ve only finished 1 per cent of the project. But that’s actually right on schedule: by the time you get to 1 per cent you’re only seven doublings away.

You have a strong track record with your predictions. Has this exponential thinking helped get the timing right?

In the mid-1980s, I predicted the emergence of the World Wide Web for the mid-1990s. It seemed ridiculous then, when the entire US defence budget could only link up a few thousand scientists. But I saw it doubling every year and it happened right on schedule. It is quite remarkable how predictable these measures of the power of information technology are. Even so, millions of innovators are going to come up with unexpected ideas. Who would have anticipated social networks and blogs? If 10 years ago I had said we’re going to create an encyclopedia and anybody can write and edit it, you’d have thought, my god, it’s going to be full of graffiti and completely worthless. It’s amazing how good it is if we harness the collective wisdom.

These advances all sound very utopian.

They are not utopian because technology is a double-edged sword, it introduces new problems as well. Overall, though, I do believe the benefits outweigh the damage that technology causes. Not everybody agrees.

Okay, we all know I like Ray so for a change I will not scream my head off, becasue I would very much like to see his prediction of the future come true.

I suggest you read alittle more about Rays predictions here.

Original site.

WOG out.

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