Sunday, November 26, 2006

Ray Kurzweil Predicts

Kurzweil predicts human immortality by way of nanomedicine. "Nanobots" in our bloodstreams will repair cellular and tissue damage as fast as it occurs. Affordable computers will be a thousand times more powerful than a human brain . . . Kurzweil clearly believes in "singularity now!"

According to Kurzweil, here's what we can expect in the not-so-distant future:

—Doctors will be doing a backup of our memories by the late 2030s;

—By the late 2020s, doctors will be sending intelligent bots, or nanobots, into our bloodstreams to keep us healthy, and into our brains to keep us young;

—In 15 years, human longevity will be greatly extended. By the 2020s, we'll be adding a year of longevity or more for every year that passes;

—In the same timeframe, we'll routinely be in virtual reality environments. Instead of making a cell call, we could "meet" someone in a virtual world and take a walk on a virtual beach and chat. Business meetings and conference calls will be held in calming or inspiring virtual locations;

—When you're walking down the street and see someone you've met before, background information about that person will pop up on your glasses or in the periphery of your vision;

—Instead of spending hours in front of a desktop machine, computers will be more ingrained in our environment. For instance, computer monitors could be replaced by projections onto our retinas or on a virtual screen hovering in the air;

—Scientists will be able to rejuvenate all of someone's body tissues and organs by transforming their skin cells into youthful versions of other cell types;

—Need a little boost? Kurzweil says scientists will be able to regrow our own cells, tissues, and even whole organs, and then introduce them into our bodies, all without surgery. As part of what he calls the "emerging field of rejuvenation medicine," new tissue and organs will be built out of cells that have been made younger;

—Got heart trouble? No problem, says Kurzweil. "We'll be able to create new heart cells from your skin cells and introduce them into your system through the bloodstream. Over time, your heart cells get replaced with these new cells, and the result is a rejuvenated, young heart with your own DNA";

Kurzweil as author, is an example of an uber-synthesist. He sifts through mountains of information to find technology trends. He predicts the future, without bothering to have tongue in cheek.

His biological predictions may even be timid, but Kurzweil's predictions of nanotech healers and machine super-cognition may be more than a little optimistic--from his point of view.

Humans are certainly not ready for super-intelligence, and computers have no point of reference. Human intelligence is based on emotions, which are based on biological drives. Computers have nothing similar to build on, other than a need for electricity, more memory, and faster processors. As soon as computers begin to understand the need for speed and power, we may all be in trouble. Computers are not bound by billions of years of kludgy evolution--they can evolve exponentially.

So it comes down to: how soon can engineers/scientists build emotions and drives into computers--computers with actuators and power to act in the physical world? Because that is when Kurzweilian things start happening. Only computers can program massively parallel computers. They simply need a good reason to do so.
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