The Ultimate Thinking Machine

ultimate thinking machine
Raymond “Ray” Kurzweil; (born February 12, 1948) is an American author, computer scientist, inventor and futurist. Kurzweil received the 1999 National Medal of Technology and Innovation, the United States’ highest honor in technology, from President Clinton in a White House ceremony. He was the recipient of the $500,000 Lemelson-MIT Prize for 2001, the world’s largest for innovation. And in 2002 he was inducted into the National Inventors Hall of Fame, established by the U.S. Patent Office. He has received twenty honorary doctorates, and honors from three U.S. presidents.

[box type=”note”]For the past several decades, Kurzweil’s most effective and common approach to doing creative work has been conducted during his lucid dreamlike state which immediately precedes his awakening state. He claims to have constructed inventions, solved difficult problems, such as algorithmic, business strategy, organizational, and interpersonal problems, and written speeches in this state.[/box]

Kurzweil has been described as a “restless genius” by The Wall Street Journal and “the ultimate thinking machine” by Forbes. PBS included Kurzweil as one of 16 “revolutionaries who made America” along with other inventors of the past two centuries. Inc. magazine ranked him #8 among the “most fascinating” entrepreneurs in the United States and called him “Edison’s rightful heir”.

Kurzweil – the thinking machine quote;

“I realize that most inventions fail not because the R&D department can’t get them to work, but because the timing is wrong‍—‌not all of the enabling factors are at play where they are needed. Inventing is a lot like surfing: you have to anticipate and catch the wave at just the right moment.”

Kurzweil has authored seven books, five of which have been national bestsellers. The Age of Spiritual Machines has been translated into 9 languages and was the #1 best-selling book on Amazon in science. Kurzweil’s book The Singularity Is Near was a The New York Times bestseller, and has been the #1 book on Amazon in both science and philosophy. Kurzweil speaks widely to audiences public and private and regularly delivers keynote speeches at industry conferences like DEMO, SXSW and TED. He maintains the news website KurzweilAI.net, which has over three million readers annually.

Future predictions by the Ultimate Thinking Machine Ray Kurzweil

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 part of the book is devoted to predictions over the coming century, from 2009 through 2099. In The Singularity Is Near he makes fewer concrete short-term predictions, but includes many longer-term visions.

He states that with radical life extension will come radical life enhancement. He says he is confident that within 10 years we will have the option to spend some of our time in 3D virtual environments that appear just as real as real reality, but these will not yet be made possible via direct interaction with our nervous system. “If you look at video games and how we went from pong to the virtual reality we have available today, it is highly likely that immortality in essence will be possible.” He claims to know that 20 to 25 years from now, we will have millions of blood-cell sized devices, known as nanobots, inside our bodies fighting against diseases, improving our memory, and cognitive abilities.

Kurzweil claims to know that a machine will pass the Turing test by 2029, and that around 2045, “the pace of change will be so astonishingly quick that we won’t be able to keep up, unless we enhance our own intelligence by merging with the intelligent machines we are creating”. Shortly after, Kurzweil claims to know that humans will be a hybrid of biological and non-biological intelligence that becomes increasingly dominated by its non-biological component. He stresses that “AI is not an intelligent invasion from Mars. These are brain extenders that we have created to expand our own mental reach. They are part of our civilization. They are part of who we are.

So over the next few decades our human-machine civilization will become increasingly dominated by its non-biological component. In Transcendent Man Kurzweil states “We humans are going to start linking with each other and become a metaconnection we will all be connected and all be omnipresent, plugged into this global network that is connected to billions of people, and filled with data.” Kurzweil states in a press conference that we are the only species that goes beyond our limitations- “we didn’t stay in the caves, we didn’t stay on the planet, and we’re not going to stay with the limitations of our biology”. In his singularity based documentary he is quoted saying “I think people are fooling themselves when they say they have accepted death”.

In 2008, 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. According to Kurzweil, we only need to capture 1 part in 10,000 of the energy from the Sun that hits Earth’s surface to meet all of humanity’s energy needs.

Photo credit: Thomas Hawk via Visual hunt / CC BY-NC

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