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Kurzweil: Humans will be more machine than biological by the 2030s

According to a CNN article, inventor, author and futurist Dr. Raymond Kurzweil, calculates that "humans will become more non-biological than biological" by the 2030s. Are you ready to join the Borg? Resistance if futile!

According to a CNN article, inventor, author and futurist Dr. Raymond Kurzweil, calculates that "humans will become more non-biological than biological" by the 2030s.

Captain Jean-Luc Picard as LocutusIn his book, The Singularity Is Near: When Humans Transcend Biology, Kurzweil predicts a "future period during which the pace of technological change will be so rapid, its impact so deep, that human life will be irreversibly transformed." This Singularity, as Kurzweil calls it, will be "the culmination of the merger of our biological thinking and existence with our technology, resulting in a world that is still human but that transcends our biological roots."

Kurzweil believes we are already in the early stages of this transition and that the pace of the transformation will accelerate exponentially. By 2020, Kurzweil believes we will witness "a second revolution in the area of nanotechnology." By the 2030s, we will be "capable of uploading our minds onto the Internet, living in various virtual worlds and even avoiding aging and evading death." By the 2040s, "non-biological intelligence will be billions of times better than the biological intelligence humans have today, possibly rendering our present brains as obsolete."

While Kurzweil is an undoubted technology optimist, he acknowledges the "grave dangers" new technologies might pose for humankind. "Technology has always been a double-edge sword," Kurzweil told CNN.

I haven't read Kurzweil's book, but I'm not sure I buy all his predictions. A few unforeseen catastrophes could derail his timeline. Furthermore, reviewers on Amazon write that Kurzweil offer detailed technical explanations for his assertions, but fails to examine how our social, political, and religious systems might influence his predictions. I'll have to read Kurzweil's book and see for myself.

As for Kurzweil's predictions, what do you think?

About

Bill Detwiler is Managing Editor of TechRepublic and Tech Pro Research and the host of Cracking Open, CNET and TechRepublic's popular online show. Prior to joining TechRepublic in 2000, Bill was an IT manager, database administrator, and desktop supp...

89 comments
tomc_2k3
tomc_2k3

I think that this is a very interesting discussion. I myself believe that this transformation will happen in the future. However this raises many questions, concerns and many possible rewards. How will this transformation take place, will we still use or human bodies as vessels but instead use technology to further enhance who we are? what we are?. What will the costs be of this transformation, physical, mental, money, identity. What will the dangers of this be, will we as a species become stronger or weaker ? will the human race eventually be nothing but human brains inside mechanical structures. Will there be any control ?

george.jenkins
george.jenkins

LP's gave way to CD's. VHS tapes gave way to DVD's. Road maps gave way to GPS units. Ma Bell gave way to VoIP and digital cell phones. Research libraries are now online in a digital format. Several states are mandating use of "hands-free" cell phone ear pieces reminiscent of Borg. More of us are finding ways to be constantly connected to the Internet for human communication. History is instituting that everything analog can be upgraded/enhanced/replaced by a digital creation. Dr. Kurzweil is on the right path. We use plastic surgery. We use nano-technology. We use bio-technology. We've mapped the human brain. We're teaching computers to think and act like a human. We're creating robots to help with human functions. We clone plants and animals. We manipulate DNA. We gear soldiers with integrated computers to help in combat. We are analog. We can be upgraded. The next step in human evolution is the merge of our analog being with digital enhancements/replacements. No nation, religion, or society will stop this event. If we in America oppose this modification other nations will advance without us. For us to stay abreast with this change, we'll have to change policy. We have accepted Moore's law of doubling processing performance every two years. We will look back and create a similar law for Dr. Kurzweil's insight stating something similar but in reference to the human/computer integration.

bmvanallen2
bmvanallen2

LOL, and we'll all be able to afford it too. I'm not saying it may not eventually happen, but we need to consider in-depth research, FDA approvals, investors, a public need for it all, insurance approval, and the time it takes for any new tech to be integrated into society (think pace makers- It took less than a year to be designed, but took over 10 years for full FDA & insurance co approval & even more time before doctors really started using them- they've only been truly common for less than a decade now!) To think all of that will happen with becoming more than 50% cyborg in just 20 years is a little unrealistic. Just one question, where???s my flying car?

tungstendiadem
tungstendiadem

I am wondering if Dr. Kurzweil is up on his "What's wrong with healthcare IT." I think Dr. Kurzweil's projections are fanciful (though I fancy them). The fact of the matter is that the sort of transformations he's predicting despite the rapid growth of computational power will require a talent pool dedicated to its development and investment beyond current economic capacities. Maybe with two or three quintillion dollars research budget and the freedom to experiment on human beings we might in twenty odd years come to realize a tenth of what Dr. Kurzweil envisions.

FormerDomin8or
FormerDomin8or

There's something wrong with how people think of technology advancement. Yes, over the past 20 years, look how computers and video games have advanced-from blips to 3-d blobs. And yet, if it hasn't taken over our brains yet, why wait another 30 years? I thought "Meet the Robinsons" was far-fetched, but this is ridiculous.

Dr_Zinj
Dr_Zinj

Since I work in the medical feild, I can tell you that first of all, mechanical replacements of body parts are unlikely to be as good as the original biology even within the next 22-25 years. Metal, plastic, composites just don't have the durability of bone, tendons, muscles, etc. Mechanical hearts are only temporary measures. Dialysis is only a temporary measure. We don't even have a good artificial blood and the more we learn, the less likely we can find a substitute for real blood. Artificial joints still aren't lasting a lifetime, and are unlikely to be improved to do so in the next quarter century. Neuron to wire interfaces will certainly not be be as efficient as synapses and a neuron to wire synapses isn't likely in 25 years either. We do not have the power resources to run flesh and mechanical cyborgs for the majority of the population. And we can ill afford mechanical parts currently available. Resources are going to be even more scarce in the near future. So Kurzweil's predictions aren't going to happen as soon, if at all, as he says. Biology is the key. Regeneration, regrowth, repair and reconstruction of existing bodies. Genetic manipulation to correct and improve functionality for future generations. We have many examples of stronger, faster muscles in nature. Many natural examples of animals that can de-toxify themselves, see better and over a greater range. Hear better and over a greater range. Senses that we don't have. We have examples of faster thinking and better memory in our own populations. Heck, even selection of children without defects will go a long way if we can ever overcome the right-to-lifers drive to reduce the human race to an overpopulated pile of starving, twitching imbeciles. Machines are tools to enhance humans capabilties. They are only viable replacements for human capabilites in instances where we have no capability. The more we learn about biology and mechanics, the more we realize that the ultimate machine IS a biological organism.

hbransford
hbransford

"Resistance is futile", "Change is inevitable", "The more things change, the more they stay the same".

melekali
melekali

but it sounds as if he is ignoring much datum, to which you refer in your article and he cannot predict catastrophes that might emaciate his time line to nothing more than a fanciful dream.

htmapes
htmapes

His primary contention is that evolution is logarithmic in time not linear. He makes a very good case for this assertion, and I suggest that you start there instead of with the items that are flogged by the popular press. If you will accept the logarithmic premise, then the next singularity -- single-cell to multi-cell, land-based animals, hominids being some examples of singularities -- should occur within the next thirty years or so. What evolutionary discontinuity could possibly be more likely than human intelligence being replicated or assumed by machines through either complete imitation or merger. The book is a real slog, and will probably not appeal to the blog-attention-span crowd, but it has some rather startling numerical analyses and truly scary ideas.

drl.techrepub
drl.techrepub

As technology races ahead it gets less connected with day to day users. It's like watching an old lava lamp where humanity is the bulb at the bottom and the wax in the lamp all the technology. This guy is talking as if the wax in the lamp is trying to pull the lamp to the top! Of course it's not. The lamp (humanity) drives ideas forward, but when they become too way-out they become detached and float away, only to return again when they cool down and become sensible. There, bet you never thought you'd look at IT in terms of a lava lamp!!! (Showing my age here... Mmmmm jostiks, lava lamps, and ... record players! Woohoo! Where did I leave my flairs?)

RealGem
RealGem

So because we carry and sometimes wear technology, Kurzweil is jumping to the conclusion that it will be embedded? This based on the largely interesting. largely hyped, but largely useless field of nanotech? Ha. That's like saying when our ancestors started wearing cave bear skins, we would become cave bears in a few decades. This might have led to lycanthropic legend, but it certainly didn't come true. Why do people even listen to futurists anyway? By 2040, Kurzweil will probably be dead and some new futurist will get all the attention. I would love to see a website that contains an archive of old predictions, going back 50 years, and comparing them to what actually happened. Remember how we were all supposed to have our own jet packs to get to work? That sort of thing was predicted in the 50s and 60s. I don't know about you, but I'm still using an internal combustion engine.

DeepThoughtsShallowMind
DeepThoughtsShallowMind

I just picked this book up about two weeks ago, I'm a couple chapters into it. So far the theories of Kurzweil (I'm calling them theories, but I believe he sees them as predictions) seem a stretch....but the foundation of his theory is sound - CHANGE IS INEVITABLE. I'm a 'Matrix' movie fanatic, watching those movies and animations were like a religious experience to me....and I believe we are heading into some melded technology driven future, where the lines between man and machine are blurred. The thought of machines creating machines does not concern me as much as evil humans telling the machines to create machines that kill and destroy rather than evolve and learn. But I am also concerned with human created disasters...wars, ethnic cleansing, religious zealots hell bent on making sure they are the only ones left on earth. Where would we be today if Rome was not destroyed, and will we as a human race be able to stave off the next calamity that wipes out hundreds of years of knowledge and experience ? Deep thoughts for a shallow mind ;)

SteveSilverman
SteveSilverman

Kurzweil believes that at some point, the computer will become conscious. He is assuming that consciousness is the product of the brain and if enough power is built into the computer, it will also create consciousness. There is an alternate argument that consciousness creates matter. If so, I don't think the computer will ever take over. Steve

pgit
pgit

Kurzweil is a menace and his ideas are evil. Any of this comes to pass ever (won't be by 2030 tho) and it's all over for humanity. Remember the monsters from the id.

law_n_disorder
law_n_disorder

Don't know what Kurzweil's been smokin, but I want some....

LocoLobo
LocoLobo

People have been saying stuff like that since the 70s. Back then it was "genetic engineering". In a few years they would be able to clone your organs for transplanting. I'll believe it when I see it.

Neon Samurai
Neon Samurai

With the two areas of research progressing currently, I suspect we'll be looking at more blatant bio-enhancements beyond vaccines by the time cybernetic implants become consumer grade products. It becomes the challenge of connecting neuron to wire versus growing specialized or replacement organs without rejection. Cybernetics need extra bits to generate power where genetic implants can live off the existing biopower grid. I speculate as someone who's had a wishlist buy sheet for cybereyes since highschool: - Full time sensory record for searchable review, video capture, audio or still images - lowlight, infrared, flash suppression, tele-optics - HUD for information display fed from various recievers and monitoring probes - cameleon outer display for normal eye apearance, mirrored or flat black what the heck, may as well do both eyes though only one requires it currently. Best include embedded storage and a connection too the datajack behind my left ear. Wireless will be needed for general connectivity but connecting into my implanted network won't be allowed lest marketing get hardcore about spyware. The more I spot advancements in bio or cyber replacements, the more I think it's going to be the bioware that works out first. With the cybereyes being tested currently, shrinking the camera down is not the challenge; it's still wiring it into the optic center and calibrating the computer for the indavidual.

sysop-dr
sysop-dr

Yes the process is already happening. I consider myself Borg because of medical technology being permanently part of my being. I consider the original Borg's to be people with pacemakers. They not only depend on the technology for their very life but they also have to recharge their batteries. I also consider people with 'active' artificial legs and arms as Borg but not those people with prosthetics that are not activated by electronics. Unless it can sense the users signals and then act on them they may as well be a wooden peg leg. I have implants along my spine for pain control. I started blogging about this a while back at a-borgs-blog but it sporadic at best.

CaptBilly1Eye
CaptBilly1Eye

...and here I sit still waiting for my jet pack. seriously... interesting article. food for thought. Now if they'd just come up with a pill that would keep me alive and coherent 'till 2030.

sylvain.drapeau
sylvain.drapeau

(I have to admit I did not read the book either.) The year 2030 is not the futur, it's tomorrow. There's no way we can have that kind of evolution in a so short time. Anyway... let's say we do. Who wants to have is mind hacked or spammed to death on the Internet? And unless you are optimistic enough to think crime will be no more, "mind-hacking" would be a major barrier to "mind-uploading". It could redefine "Identity theft"... SD

digitall1
digitall1

Sorayama has been painting these concepts of genetic and bio-mechanical organic forms that actually come about 20 to 30 years after his paintings. The first organic robotic forms of the mid 1980s culminated in the award winning AIBO (artificial intelligent pet robot) in about 2000. For more detailed information, Sorayama is the subject of many illustrated and scholarly books. AIBO is int he permanent collection of MOMA and the Smithsonian Institute of Tech Museum. www DOT sorayama DOT net

Bill Detwiler
Bill Detwiler

In an IT Dojo blog post, I describe Dr. Raymond Kurzweil's calculation that "humans will become more non-biological than biological" by the 2030s. Original post: http://blogs.techrepublic.com.com/itdojo/?p=150 According to a CNN article, Kurzweil believes we will witness "a second revolution in the area of nanotechnology" by 2020. By the 2030s, we will be "capable of uploading our minds onto the Internet, living in various virtual worlds and even avoiding aging and evading death." By the 2040s, "non-biological intelligence will be billions of times better than the biological intelligence humans have today, possibly rendering our present brains as obsolete." What do you think? Will we eventually become one with our technology?

Dr Dij
Dr Dij

we'll just assimilate them! :) I'm busy eating health foods so I can stay alive till that time when I can upload myself into a cyborg body. (aka Futurama's Kidnappster)

Tony Hopkinson
Tony Hopkinson

go back invisible and whisper in his ear.... Conversely, wait for the auto-biography, and then destroy any dissent.

Tony Hopkinson
Tony Hopkinson

Personally I'd say it was asymptotic. When you factor in Ug looking at the orange flickery thing and his square wheel, you get a better picture. Humanities quest for a machinelike intelligence is that for the perfect slave. The only scary thing about that, is a race dumb enough to think such a thing could exist. All the scary stories revolve around the slaves rebelling throwing off the chains. A perfectly understandable idea from a human point of view, but any intelligence human enough to be like us, would not be machine like and therefore could not be the perfect slave. You want scary, genetic engineering, skynet would be a pic microcontroller inside a couple of weeks.

Tony Hopkinson
Tony Hopkinson

rule of three. There are always at least three consequences for any change. A good one, a bad one and an unexpected one. Evil humans. What like George Bush and Tony Blair you mean? Evil is subjective. How about virtual wars. Both sides go off and play command and conquer V, nobody dies....

Neon Samurai
Neon Samurai

You remind me of my longtime ponderance of bionics vs cybernetics. By definition, bionics mechanically replicate existing human function. The bionic leg used by Terry Fox and later versions used by competitive runners (funky looking sprint foot). The pacemaker which pumps blood replacing the biological pump. Cybernetics electro-mechanically replicate existin function or provide additional function. The eye which replaces lost vision while including additional function like video record and HUD. The replacement kidney that filters toxins with the additional ability to conciously return to sobriety as quickly as it filter the alcahol from your system (or other chemicals dot, dot, dot). The additional implant that can release specific chemicals into the boody for prolonged periods without sleep or inducing the desired simptoms without unwanted affects of recreational chemicals. The implanted storage that suppluments memory with a searchable life database. I don't know that the destinction is really all that important but with the topic being a part of my type of geekdom, I notice it. That does define a lot of people now as bionic-men/women but ironically, defines The Bionic Man as cybernetic under the simplified label "cyborg" or "borg" if your faithful to the Startrek setting. Does all this then mean we call bioware consumers Bionetic since Bionic refers to the lower technology?

jck
jck

Do a Walt Disney and get frozen!! :^0

mamies
mamies

We already use technolgy to help people live a better life these days. A pacemaker is inseted into a human with a dicky heart and this helps them live, people are hooked to dialisis machines to help keep their bodies clean of toxin. Maybe not mind control by 2030 but definately something rather impressive but scary at the same time

CharlieSpencer
CharlieSpencer

Look back 30 years to 1978. Personal computers didn't exist. The Internet was still restricted to a few colleges and DoD labs. Many types of organ transplants were still cutting edge. Look back 100. We were just mastering heavier-than-air flight. It took only 60 years or so to reach the moon. 2030 is over twenty years away, and the pace of technological change only increases. I don't think the timeline for this prediction is off base, but I think the proposed end state is depressing.

alxcsby
alxcsby

I doubt it will be anything so physically drastic as what is being described. I imagine a world not unlike William Gibson's "Neuromancer", which is fairly plausible at this juncture (to the exception of the space travel bit). With regards to the time frame, though, consider 50 years ago, 20 years ago, and today. There are people coming off 18 year prison sentences who have no idea what an MP3 or CD are. The jukebox of the 50's has become the Ipod or Zune of today. The PC has come up from bits and kilobytes to terabytes. Quantum computing is visibly distant with the advent of magnetically freezing light. The computing world grows exponentially: 20 years is plenty.

roberts
roberts

This stuff doesn't come close. Tech can only progress if there is room for it to do so. If you look at the tech in computers and compare it to 20 years ago, it's pretty much the same concepts. They've just found ways to make it more efficient. There haven't been any real new ideas in a very long time and we have about reached the limits on what a microprocessor can do. But let's say for arguments sake that there is a tech revolution. We find the a cheap and easy superconductor that allows infinite progress and infinite enhancements over time. Is the market really out there for this kind of stuff. I mean sure people love gadgets, but is there going to be a mass number of people that are willing to give up warm blankets out of the dryer, hiking, swimming, driving really fast with the radio cranked, real sex and hot chocolate (not at the same time), just so they can float in hyperspace and deal with banner ads, spyware and hello kitty avatars. Also what makes us think that binary and our brain functions are anywhere near compatible? Of course I could be wrong and all this could come to pass. Makes you really think about the Blue Screen of Death in a whole new light.

jedmundson
jedmundson

Apparently Kurzweil hasn't read Heinlein's The Door into Next Summer, Orwell's 1984, or seen any of those 1950's looks into the future films. Even Walt Disney had it wrong with the flying cars (*Where are the flying cars?!*). Be careful when you predict the future.

davionics
davionics

For Mr. Kurzweil to say that we will be "capable of uploading our minds onto the Internet suggests to me that he doesn't really understand what a "mind" is. First, I want to acknowledge Mr. K's remakable contributions to technology, musical instrumentation, access for the blind, and the man/machine interface in general. And I agree that the pace of technology is growing exponentially. However, there are a few problems with his predictions. 1. The short time frame he gives. Even at our current pace I see these kind of sweeping changes taking centuries, not decades. 2. Silicon is running out of steam, performance-wise and we will soon be forced to look for new semiconductor (or other?) computer circuits. This will shave decades off the speed of computer advancement. 3. There is a fundamental flaw in his thinking - which is that computers can 'think' at all. They merely process. The blazing speeds at which they do this can be so impressive that one is tempted to forget that, essentially, they are simply executing one instruction after another after another. So no, computers will never 'obsolete' the human brain/mind. Although I do see a future where the man/machine interface may begin to soften and blur. Another thought: In the 3rd grade I was often told to put my "thinking cap" on. What was it my 3rd grade teacher knew and Mr. K knows that they're not telling us?

mrAverage
mrAverage

It is just basic Physics. 1.For every action there is....1 person sees a bright future, one says the world is ending. 2.4 dimensions +x +y ++++ just in case. Unfortunately, the human equation attemps to re-write natural laws and create adversity so we have something to worry about: End of world, Ghosts, Global warming, Religious superiority. WE NEED A GOOD ALIEN INVASION....... Regardless, I am getting my crystals, my PVC pipe pyramid, digging a bomb shelter, stocking up on artillary, praying to ?????, and planning my pilgramage to Stonehenge, Mecca, Rome, Just in case. aaaaggggghhhhhh...........I'm so confused. Happy Friday or Tuesday, what calendar should we use???? ALIEN INVASION ya that could work.

MadSciGuy
MadSciGuy

If humans are just bags of chemical wetare, then it might be inevitable (or not), but then it won't matter either. The religious - philosophical perspective is that humans transcend their biology anyway by nature, through immortal and non-material souls. The song of John Henry the Steel Driver beaten by a machine marked the end of the Big Muscles era. Then we had Big Blue defeating the best human chess player, and the era of Big Brains as the mark of human superiority was called into question. We can always build more powerful extensions of ourselves, but the created can never be superior to the creator at any level of existence, including human-created technology.

DadsPad
DadsPad

Kurzweil looks only at technolgy, without noticing that great leaps in biology is happening at the same time. And for his predictions to come true, they both must delvelop together. Technology is developing rapidly, so I do not know if his timeline is correct or not. I do believe, however, that we will be interacting more and more with technolgy in the future. As better interfaces between our biology and technical advances are developed it is will be hard to stop. In fact, our work may require it,as well as our everyday life. Look how many people have something plugged into their ears all day now! Uploading all our brain information to a storage area. I doubt it will be on the internet, which will be so changed to be this fast, it will not resemble anything we know now. The human brain is so complicated, I am not sure we will understand enough of it to do this by 2030, but only time will tell. As far as interacting with a virtual world, that is being developed rapidly (games). When it happens, I see it more believable as it is written in Tad Williams' Otherland book series. Bodily functions and necessities are addressed quite nicely. What ever happens, the future is always a surprise. Most of us that have been around for a while witnessed many technical wonders. :)

Tony Hopkinson
Tony Hopkinson

Have you any idea of the bandwidth required. How are uploaded entities going to cope with the sensory deprivation? Legal implications. If you have uploaded a copy and your physical body is destroyed are you still 'alive' If you destroy a copy, is it murder? If you are alive, what about inheritance. If someone takes a copy of you can they kill your body and not commit murder. Why would a copy of us be more intelligent ? Would the copy have a soul ? If you can upload, can you download ? This is just bad sci-fi....

boxfiddler
boxfiddler

in a disquieting manner. Will we eventually become one with our technology? I don't know. The thought is disturbing at levels for which I can't even find words. Two things jump out. Why is it we are so miserable, so dissatisfied with ourselves and our lot in life that we pursue becoming that which we are not with such abandon? Is it at all sensible to add yet another layer of dependency for our survival on that which is invented, designed, and manufactured by humans, and prone to failure at regular intervals? Ok, three things. Human foresight really stinks. When will we learn that we haven't the capacity to foresee all the possibilities our 'toys' bring into existence? Then again, we may become moot as of December 21, 2012.

boxfiddler
boxfiddler

in your daily activities. Busses lurk.

Neon Samurai
Neon Samurai

As Mr Williams said; Women should rule the world. There would be no more wars, just suvere negotiations every 30 days. And, no more weapons that kill, they'd just make you feel really bad about yourself for a while. (ok, I'm going to hell for that one probably but hopefully no one takes offense.)

Freebird54
Freebird54

and so little has changed. My computer of today is higher definition, and has more storage space - and is a little faster - but what it can do has not much changed since 1990. Fast transparent multitasking? Already excellent in 1990. Audio? Already good in 1990. Video? Already very good in 1990. Desktop Pub? already full colour in 1990. Net access? Well - that's better now, but I was on the newsgroups then too :) Don't remember those capabilities in 1990? Guess you didn't have an Amiga :) Point is - the biggest change is in the cost and availability of decent hardware - there really hasn't been much of an advance on any other front...

rfolden
rfolden

"fairly plausible at this juncture (to the exception of the space travel bit)." Yes, but if "we" were represented by electrons that could travel via copper or via radio waves, we could certainly travel right near the spead of light, could we not?

Neon Samurai
Neon Samurai

Wait until P-1 figures out how to modify its own code and starts to really develop itself. (fantastic book but someone else has the alias here) I hope the four laws are hardware coded because we'll eventually have to have machines to develop the better machines.

Dr_Zinj
Dr_Zinj

The technology exists for flying cars today, and has existed for some time. The major governments of the world do NOT want private ownership or use of flying cars in any way, shape, or form. They are absolutely terrified of the thought of millions of ordinary people flying every which way through the air at 400 mph speeds with 1500 to 3000 pounds of volatile fuel, metal, and plastics; with no control over where they are going or what they are doing with their air cars. One single drunk flyer crashing into a school dance. A driver accidently swerves into the path of a 747 causing it to collide and crash. 16 Al Qaeda suicide bombers each flying a car filled with explosives into buildings would have been harder to stop than 4 airliners; and would far more accurate in hitting their targets and cause vastly greater damage. Of course governments objections and barriers to flying cars are also in place to prevent inexpensive private development of surface to orbit space vehicles. So at least they are fairly consistent.

franklymydear
franklymydear

We need to make it a pre-requisite that the copy is more intelligent. COuld you imagine the chaos of copies of STUPID people? Of course the stupid people would be the ones who make THOUSANDS of copies of themselves becuase they enjoy talking to themselves or seeing themselves do something or other. Narcistic tendencies aside it's a frightening thought.

dcolbert
dcolbert

And it is also inconceivable that a computer could ever need more than 640k of RAM. I read the original article on CNN. They make a compelling case that wet technology is ALREADY here, and in more than just plastic hearts. Cybernetics and bioengineering make something like this almost an inevitability. I also like to point out that a person that went into a coma in say, 1990, coming out of that coma today, would see our Smart Phones, PDAs, touch screen technologies, and Internet as Star Trek technology. Things move fast. Forget about the fact that we've successfully cloned animals and unraveled DNA. The ethical and moral questions you propose are just that. But make no mistake, if we don't do it, someone else in the world will. The bandwidth limitations are short sighted. In 1987 when I got my Commodore 128 they threw in my first modem for free, a 300baud job. I made every jump thereafter, to 1200, then 2400, then 4800, then 9600, then 14.4k, then 19.2k, then 33.3k, then to 56k, ISDN, DSL, and Cable. Now my technically illiterate sister has 10mb residential fiber to her door and Microsoft streams full length HD quality to Xbox 360s all over the world. My first download was a 48k BASIC helicopter game for the Commodore. It took over 3 hours to download. Now I can transfer a 4gb ISO image in around the same time. My first hard drive was a 20mb SCSI drive that cost me $250 used and hooked up to a $250 Amiga 2000 SCSI controller card (Amiga and RGB CRT sold separately). My Smart phone today cost $150 after rebates with contract and has 8gb of solid state memory. It emulates an Amiga 2000 without breaking a sweat. The soul is a metaphysical concept. Once we can upload the sum experience of consciousness from the meat it resides in to another container, I suppose then we can ask it the question and decide what we think about the answer it gives us. Until then, we can't even be sure that the soul exists. If the last 30 years have taught us anything, it is that while we may not be able to predict the future accurately, it will certainly exceed our expectations, and it is foolhardy to dismiss any suggestion that has some sort of basis in fact.

Dr_Zinj
Dr_Zinj

Will upgrades to your "self" be bought and sold, or will they be free for the taking? Will the machine person world be a world of the haves and have nots with the rich and powerful with all the latest upgrades and the rest using old, castoff, or obsolete tech? Will there be discriminatory behavior between the meat people and the mechanicals? Who own's your "copyright"? What are your power requirements going to be?

team_elii
team_elii

Google Charles Stoss... It's actually quite rivetting sci-fi. Though he specialises in short stories, he does have some very interesting and readable stuff. Elihion.

The Scummy One
The Scummy One

If I download the copy and hold it for ransom, is that illegal? Wait, now here is a question -- will the living and upload share information or be linked in some way? Also, what happens to all of the Internet when the uploads fart or cr@p?

boxfiddler
boxfiddler

the bandwidth required! There was a Stargate episode in which an entire village was linked to the village computer. As the computer resources dwindled, rather than clue the villagers to the problem, the computer just woke them 1 by 1 in the middle of the night and led them into the poisonous atmosphere beyond the village safety zone. Then, it erased the pertinent memories of the remaining villagers. etu Just what I want.

jck
jck

Tony...you just reminded me of George Carlin. Thanks for the laugh :)

Neon Samurai
Neon Samurai

We've never been satisfied with the shortcomings of our design since the very first time someone ate a special berry to calm there stomach. We take vaccines for weaknesses in our immune system. We take daily drugs for weaknesses like requiring sleep. I think trying to gain additional functions by implanting electronics and biological growths is a natural extension of this. We want our embedded digital watches and smartphones and we want them now damnit; medical science; make it so! We are cursed with the ability to imagine and the patience too limited to wait for Darwinist calculations to be completed. The damn things take generations anyhow and all you get in the end is an answer like "42". What good is that when the guy that knew the question is long since dead? Having spent enough time on the wrong side of an OR, I find the idea of more surgery unwelcome. I had enough trouble with the acceptance of having a tooth pulled; first body part I've had to give up voluntarily since passing the point in maturity where all injuries seem to heal.

CharlieSpencer
CharlieSpencer

What's Dec. 21st, 2012, other than the winter solstice and my mother's birthday? Gods, I hate myself.

drl.techrepub
drl.techrepub

The proof is itself! :-) You want to be convinced before you accept my statement (very wise!), i.e. you need to know that it is right (as far as is discernable) before you take the idea "into" your map of the world. Like I say, it would take time and patience and lots of tea to pursue this rather complex topic. I'm happy to oblige in the right forum. As to the other comments regarding bag of chemicals etc, well, that's what we are! We are a community of individual but interdependent lives, more like coral than an entity in our own right. Do we communicate with your red corpuscles? No, they live their own lives and respond to stimulae that affects their behaviour. Just about every cell in the body has some automomy. I'm not reducing everything down to chemicals, rather saying that what we *are* determines what we are, so given that even the preferred paths for electrochemical activity in our brains is what our behaviour is, and those paths are "programmed" by our daily activity AND the events in the "lives" of the neurons etc, of which we are oblivious, it makes for a stupendously complex machine (us) where talk of free will, and talk of plugging us into computers are both really quite nonsensical. But I'm happy to debate this because I find the exploration really quite exciting.

boxfiddler
boxfiddler

That's the one for which I would like to see 'proof'.

Neon Samurai
Neon Samurai

If you subscribe to the bioligist aproach to psycology versus the humanist, freudian or others than yes, we are biomechanical machines. I suspect most in the medical profession also think of us as machines. The philisophical questions are definately where the research still falls short though. We can replace a hip or shoulder with synthetic parts but we haven't a clue how the fatty goo on top of our spine results in conciousness or what we experience and presume is conciousness. It gets even more interesting when you consider how we all experience our five senses differently. Just the idea of what I see as red and what a colour blind person would understand as red.

MadSciGuy
MadSciGuy

If free will does not exist, then we are already biochemical machines now, and always have been -- not just years in the future. It's a question of: what does it mean to be a human, or a dog, or a machine? No, I am not sure, but I don't find the topic threatening, either. Are any of us "free" when we write these posts, or are we just deterministic bags of chemicals responding to stimuli based on genetic programming and environmental conditioning? If so, then no one is responsible for anything, including me, or Kurzweil.

drl.techrepub
drl.techrepub

In a friendly as well as scientific way, I challenge you, or anyone else for that matter, to give me an example of true "free will" in action. I will show you irrevocably that although it may exist it's as rare as hens teeth. It may take some time to explain that will is based on the sum of your experiences and the built in human imperitive to be "right" and because of that try to make the world outside conform with the mental model of the world that we hold inside, but, with time and patience I can. Free will really is illusionary, but consciousness without all the "journalism" of our past experiences muddying the waters is possible, although as I said, very very very rare indeed. Example 1: You "believe" that free will exists, but I put it to you that the conclusion that it must is something learnt, not what is observed around you. To make a point about the silly notion that we'll all be machines in twenty or so years... The author of that particular thought must be unable to cope with life in general if that's what he is hoping for. I for one will be trying to work with what I am, and trying to find out what it really means to be "me", not taking the easy way out and saying "we're all doomed". We can all make predictions, and chances are, one of use could by chance be correct. Would that make the person who "predicted" the future right? Of course not! But there are many who would say that the faces you see in a marble fireplace are real, and not just the brain's natural inclination to try to put everything in some order by seeing patterns in everything. BTW, to another comment in this thread, 2012 is a year no different from any other. The world won't end, the comet is way off the Earth's track. Why should a primitive race have insight into something centuries later? One really would have to suspend disbelief to all for that. Does anyone remember the "The End of the World is Nigh" brigade walking the streets? Well, they're pretty much all dead now of old age. Think on that. They wasted their lives because they were convinced that their thoughts were correct. Were they free? What was the result of them not recognising what was going on in their own heads? That should be pondered in a quiet place.

Neon Samurai
Neon Samurai

The hardest part these days is finding a copy though. After a year on a "if it turns up, I'll buy" list with Amazon, I finally got my copy. I was glad when it turned up finally after the last move because I don't think it could be replaced now. In short, if you've not read it. We're set in Canada at the start of computerdom; Waterlook specifically with mainframes, minis and teletype input/output. A kid wants more time on the local mainframe for his own explorations. Having been kicked out of school, he devises (five I think) programs for various needs; find me more storage, find me cpu time, keep yourself hidden, keep yourself together and report back aquisitions and anything interesting you find. So, a rootkit with accidental intelligence. The name P-1 refering to Priviledged One. User spaces where F1, F2, F3 (still like this today too) so P1 became the name for the program that could place itself outside user space and even below the kernel. He loads the code into the machine during his next schedualled time and runs the central manager that coordinates the other parts. He runs the query command "hey, whats your status?" and get's no response. He can't even rerun the program for a second try. He gives up and time passes. He's now older and working as an wage slave for some company when someone arrives at his door; "um, Mr. James?" 'Yes' "uh, the mainframe downstairs is asking for you." The premise being that each of the programs provided each of the five basic instincts of us animals and somehow, conciousness of itself evolved out of it all. Ok, last spoiler.. when P1 discovers a new machine to start lurking in that is not up to spec, it social engineers system updates. "no, I have no idea who ordered the new smoking fast 300 baud modem for the mainframe but all the paper work is in order and it's got an expense center attached.. ok, let the technition install it." The humans as parasites is another very old premis. Terminator makes use of it as do many other modern Robots Take Over settings. Free will gets into Asimov territory. How do we build intelligent machines that can modify themselves without being able to disobey the four laws? If an AI could be aware of it's own source code or more accurately, modify it's own binary machine language then it could very all add paths not expected. If those paths are completely outside the scope of human intention is probably very likely too. Look at what humans do beyond manufacturer's intended uses already. The machine may not have true imagination but the evolution clusters (no idea what the correct name would be) currenly in use actualy make educated guesses to choose new mutations for each step before breeding the two most successful results for the next step. Interesting question though. Can the machine ever take a trully creative and imaginitive step outside of what bugs or intentional code the developers left behind? Science fiction says yes but AI research still points towards mimicking thought rather than providing the base processes for it to develop out of. Will robots ever dream of electric sheep? Bah.. now I'm back to my "we need dump human coded AI to develop the smart true AI" theory again though.

MadSciGuy
MadSciGuy

And I appreciate your description of P-1 in such a short space. I am intrigued by the idea of machines inferring animal instincts from their rootkits: self-preservation, reproduction, moral(?) judgements about elimination of "parasites," etc. One definition of human uniqueness is free will, e.g., the ability to disobey one's nature (presuming a natural law, essence - precedes - existence model). Could a programmed machine every disobey it's program, or does it just have paths we didn't realize existed, i.e., not fully tested?

Neon Samurai
Neon Samurai

In the book, the collection of applications covered the basic instincts of animals. The result was that the system essentially refined itself based on those goals. It's code got audited and rewritten to improve efficiency and how each of the sub-programs managed it's specialty. The fear program got better at watching it's tracks. My favorite example is near the end of the book where the P-1 entity finds it's way into the mainframe used to simulate war games in the pentagon; the guys that managed it couldn't figure out why all the program simulations suddently became much more accurate and ran faster. In terms of reality and my theory that we'll eventually need AI designers to improve our technology beyond human based design. This is already starting with things like the evolution cluster used to design funky new antenna for NASA (the bent paperclip looking thing). But there would have to be some sort of goal. P-1's basic instincts accidentily created out of the developers rootkit provided it with the same goals as biological entities; hunger, personal safety, learning, improvement. The evolution clusters need an initial starting point and end goal before they start introducing mutation and breeding the results; take these antena designs and figure out what provides the best transmission and reception strength. In the case of the robot spider designed to learn everything including how to stand and move it is a basic random learning process. The goal is to see what outcome it results in. The machine must first learn to movie it's joints then coordinate movement to stand and walk; what then? The torso robot is interesting also though I haven't seen anything about it in years now. Basically, it's the upper half of a bot bolted to a table and wired into a crapload of storage with some basic learning instincts. I believe the goal is to see if, given enough storage and the basic learning process, it can collect enough data to start demonstraiting it's own awareness. Of course, this very thing is usually the first five minutes of plot introduction and setting for most sci fi movies; we made robots, robots took over due to some oversight by the human creators (humans falling into the definition of parasite is a popular one), we now live under robot tirany.

MadSciGuy
MadSciGuy

The very notion of self-improvement, some feedback system measuring better-than or worse-than at each step, implies a design goal present at the creation of the system -- by its creator. A truly random, pointless system could never be said to "improve" except against some external standard.

dcolbert
dcolbert

A population that is not highly mobile is a population that is easier to control. One reason that Government doesn't mind rising fuel prices.

Freebird54
Freebird54

The strangest thing about that stat you quote is that it may actually be correct! Wait a sec - there is reason for that statement... I have no trouble believing that 75% of drivers are CAPABLE of driving at a level 'better than average'. The unfortunate part is that few of them actually do it. The greatest single 'fault' of drivers is that it becomes something other than the priority thing they are doing - at which point their capability is submerged well below the average. Recent cell phone use related statistics will prove the 'power of distraction' to any who harbour doubts! Of course, I am different. I KNOW I am one of the top 10%! (not just better than average) :) The biggest contributor to this knowledge? The awareness that I DRIVE when I am driving - and the 2 million miles (on 2 wheels through 18 wheels) of accident-free experience.... The scariest thing? Knowing that, even with all that going for me, *I* can be distracted too! Anyway - just thought I'd like to offer a different perspective on that driver ability stat.

mckinnej
mckinnej

Don't want them and hope we never see them unless they are totally automated. People can't drive cars as it is, I shudder to think of the destruction they could create with flying cars. (I long for the day they automate cars too.) One humorous but true statistic I saw a few years ago was 75% of drivers think they are above average drivers. It's "nice" to know that 25% of the drivers on the road are totally wrong in regards to their true driving skills.

dcolbert
dcolbert

Are already more likely to make thousands of copies of themselves, as it is. It just takes longer, and their copies take up more real estate in meat-space. At least in virtual reality, the stupid would be reduced to 1s and 0s.

boxfiddler
boxfiddler

will be available only if your WGA is current, and in-brain DRM is not corrupted.

Tony Hopkinson
Tony Hopkinson

of a person throws the current rule book completely in the bin. Identity, is the copy you or themself. You can argue it either way and be right. Is it your's or who ever's running it. Physical adaptions/upgrades will of course be better for the rich... Quite possibly only available to them.

Tony Hopkinson
Tony Hopkinson

Not so much teh subject matter as prose and style. As for the bad sci-fi comment, that wasn't the concepts, just the idea that they would only be technical. ie doubling our lifespans would just make everybody really happy.... If you want real hard sci-fi done intelligently them my recomendation would be Kim Stanley Robinson's Mars Trilogy. Longevity extension = global meltdown, far more realistic.

santeewelding
santeewelding

Ordinal "first" must be the hangup; hence, the quotes. I.e., lions and tigers and bears and...turtles.

boxfiddler
boxfiddler

I was looking for 'first person' and couldn't find it.

santeewelding
santeewelding

No. Don't. It just goes in too many directions at once. Too late. I been snagged.

boxfiddler
boxfiddler

My God. Think of all the minds you could rummage about in at an experiential level.

Tony Hopkinson
Tony Hopkinson

I mean if you downloaded me, you'd be me . That should be punishment enough. Hmm what if you tweaked your copy for VR fun and games and it decided you were a boring fart and whacked you. Would that be suicide? There's a serious point here though. What if the punishment for murder, was to be overwritten by the victim.....

Neon Samurai
Neon Samurai

I'm actually a little surprised that it took this long to imagine a Second Life mass-wedding (one person could do way more than an auditorium worth of couples). I'm sure there have been virtual weddings but has there actually been a mass wedding which chose Second Life as the venue? Hehe.. would it then also mean I can get any Cap'n Crunch to virtualy sail five SL miles out away from any of the land settings and perform a service on deck? (it must be a slow day if this is what has my imagination going)

Tony Hopkinson
Tony Hopkinson

this Kurzweil guy could manage witha 56k Modem. :p Avoid death, yeah great idea, I mean it's not like we've got an impending population problem. There are plenty of jobs to go round, loads of oil... Yeah lets get rid of death... Oh look it's a virtual reality. Me and the missus could go on a virtual holiday togther, fall out have a virtual divorce. She get's the RAM, I get the box it came in. Progress or what. Course why would you go on a virtual holiday with the missus. Oh crap, she just read that real divorce, three copies of Angelina Jolie named as correspondents. Virtual infidelity. :( Not mention Angelina suing my ass for reprogramming her copies to fancy short plump old blokes.

Dr Dij
Dr Dij

and as 'end of the world' shows have mentioned, the end of the calendar simply means the beginning of a new calendar, not the end of the world. (the mayan calendar has already expired once) Just to be safe you could stock up on: water (to keep from being burned by hellfire) food (since the stores will be infested with ravaging zombie hordes) underground shelter (since the asteroid that hits, or the supernova that ionizes the atmosphere, or supervolcano in Yellowstone or Seattle will stir up some wind / dust) maybe shelter on stilts would be better as all the Pleistocene fuel we are burning was laid down in the earth and settled out of the atmosphere at a time when it was 6 degrees C warmer, and much of our current continental areas were flooded.

Neon Samurai
Neon Samurai

My first thought when I saw the article title was; of course it will, that's aftet 2010 and way before 2050.

bboyd
bboyd

yes and all the elves and dwarfs come back

CharlieSpencer
CharlieSpencer

Let's just say I don't plan on max'ing out my credit cards over the next four years.