So Ray Kurzweil Wants To Live Forever…

Ray Kurzweil blue backgroundOk, so Ray Kurzweil is a man of above average intelligence and achievement, even if he only just got his first job (Google, of course), but is a desire to live forever a wise choice or foolish hubris? The Wall Street Journal reports on his quest for immortality:

Ray Kurzweil must encounter his share of interviewers whose first question is: What do you hope your obituary will say?

This is a trick question. Mr. Kurzweil famously hopes an obituary won’t be necessary. And in the event of his unexpected demise, he is widely reported to have signed a deal to have himself frozen so his intelligence can be revived when technology is equipped for the job.

Mr. Kurzweil is the closest thing to a Thomas Edison of our time, an inventor known for inventing. He first came to public attention in 1965, at age 17, appearing on Steve Allen’s TV show “I’ve Got a Secret” to demonstrate a homemade computer he built to compose original music in the style of the great masters.

In the five decades since, he has invented technologies that permeate our world. To give one example, the Web would hardly be the store of human intelligence it has become without the flatbed scanner and optical character recognition, allowing printed materials from the pre-digital age to be scanned and made searchable.

If you are a musician, Mr. Kurzweil’s fame is synonymous with his line of music synthesizers (now owned by Hyundai). As in: “We’re late for the gig. Don’t forget the Kurzweil.”

If you are blind, his Kurzweil Reader relieved one of your major disabilities—the inability to read printed information, especially sensitive private information, without having to rely on somebody else…

[continues in the Wall Street Journal]


Majestic is gadfly emeritus.

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17 Comments on "So Ray Kurzweil Wants To Live Forever…"

  1. Chaos_Dynamics | Apr 14, 2013 at 12:01 pm |

    Growing hair would lend credence to his premise.

  2. Charlie Primero | Apr 14, 2013 at 12:12 pm |

    Transhumanism sounds fun and interesting, as long as it’s optional and voluntary. Problem is, it won’t be.

    • The Well Dressed Man | Apr 14, 2013 at 3:01 pm |

      Tell us more.

    • The majority of people will neither be able to afford it (your medical plan will NOT cover it) or be able to compete with the people who can afford it.

      • kowalityjesus | Apr 14, 2013 at 7:54 pm |

        think of how tortured a 150-year old would be. I don’t know if longevity would be the goal but rather an Orwellian youthful lifespan of 50-60 years followed by catastrophic failure.

        • I don’t think you’ll see buy-in for a goal of catastrophic failure from the paying customers.

          Imagine trying to compete professionally against somebody with > 100 years on that profession’s bleeding edge.

          Or somebody whose ideas fossilized 100 years ago with a network of wealthy/connected youthful-looking fossils who can lock you out of access to funding for whatever you’re trying to do.

  3. The Well Dressed Man | Apr 14, 2013 at 3:07 pm |

    It’s no coincidence that the guy so invested in transhumanist ideas involving a singularity of self aware machines is now director of engineering for the company with the stated goal of organizing ALL information.
    While the corporate stance of “don’t be evil” is perhaps a bit too naive to be taken at face value, based on actual behavior, I’m significantly more inclined to favor Google ethics compared to the Microsofts, Facebooks, and even Apples of the world.

    • Is it possible that Google’s tax avoidance strategies depriving the national community of resources have done more harm than their technology has helped?

      As for Transhumanist ideas of living “forever”, I’m sure Kurzweil wants to see life-extension technology made available to everybody who will be wealthy enough to afford it.

      Mass access to bio-enhancement means higher taxes delivered to Big Health and Big Pharma for expensive medical services that aren’t going to scale much with volume (neurosurgery isn’t done on automated assembly lines and won’t be in the foreseeable future) that NO techno-capitalist I know of has the slightest intention of paying a significant part of.

      I have far more respect for Kurzweil than I have for most other self-identified Futurists, he’s the perfect example of “making the future by inventing it” that I personally believe in, too. But that doesn’t mean I think that successful techno-capitalists automatically deserve a halo or that I believe that their primary interest is the “benefit of all mankind”. While IMO, delivery of those memes is a primary reason why the Singularity and Transhuman movements get techno-capitalist funding, that doesn’t mean to me that I have any moral obligation to buy them.

      Kurzweil is among the very few Futurists who actually have a clue as to what mass delivery of bio-enhancement is really going to cost based on his experience with real-world delivery of hardware and software and high-tech services, and his experience with paying as an employer into corporate health care. When he talks about Transhumanist concepts of extended lifespans, why doesn’t he talk about who’s paying and how much? Or admit that they’ll be limited to the elite he belongs to and tell us how the rest of us will benefit if he can?

  4. Unibrow Chic | Apr 14, 2013 at 7:21 pm |

    This is what you call ”clinical grandiosity”. Stick to building toys, Ray.

  5. BuzzCoastin | Apr 14, 2013 at 7:26 pm |

    with a present population that seriously taxes the resources of the planet
    do wee really need to figure out how to live forever?

    unfortunately, the ones who will be able to live longer than normal lifespans
    will not be people,
    they’ll be of the cyborg class: oligarchs, politicians & some of their servants

    • kowalityjesus | Apr 14, 2013 at 7:50 pm |

      then the average human will be considered naive at all ages…

      • BuzzCoastin | Apr 14, 2013 at 8:18 pm |

        the average modern human is very naive
        and what is known as modern culture or modernity
        is actually the collected wisdom of the naive
        produced by a herd of cyborgs
        and vomited into a whirled of technology
        by electric mediums

  6. kowalityjesus | Apr 14, 2013 at 7:42 pm |

    I just figured out another Turing test. A computer program that can compose a piece of music indistinguishable from Schubert. It can roughly be done by humans, can a machine contrive an original composition to fool music scholars?

  7. life is already boring and meaningless, death is something I look forward to, not that I wish to kill myself, but I dont wish to fight it either.

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