Wednesday, February 11, 2009

What Would You Ask Ray Kurzweil?

For those of you who already know who Kurzweil is and what this is about, Darlene the Science Cheerleader and I have the opportunity to do an email interview with him and write an article on As you might imagine, I have a whole boatload of questions in my mind, but in reality, R.K. will probably answer, at most, a dozen. If you have a question you're dying to ask about The Singularity, forward it my way, and Darlene and I will include it in the list for consideration. I'll keep this open until Friday night (whenever I crash--usually around 10:30-11 p.m. Central Time).

For those of you who have no idea who Ray Kurzweil is or what this is about, you may continue reading below. RK's most famous book, "The Singularity is Near," talks about a fundamental transformation that is occurring in the world's technology--not just computers, but also nanotechnology (manufacturing things at the atomic level) and biotechnology (changing the human genome to overcome illness, disease, or defects).

RK proceeds from the idea that computers have been making massive improvements in processing speed and capability every couple years. The basic theory governing this advance is Moore's Law, which states that the number of transistors on an integrated circuit has been increasing by an order of magnitude once every two years. This is how you get computers with ten times the speed for the same amount of money. RK says that this ability to compute is allowing us to also better understand everything faster, from the human genome to climate modeling to the human bloodstream. Eventually, around 2045 or so, the world's computers will achieve a point where they become not only superfast, but superintelligent--faster than us and smarter. This condition, called the Singularity, will enable us to do anything from extending life more or less indefinitely to accurately predict the weather a year out, to "uploading" the contents of our minds into the internet--allowing our souls to more or less become "ghosts in the machine."

Kurzweil has even partnered with NASA and Peter Diamandis of the X Prize Foundation to create a "Singularity University" to help technical, business, and political leaders understand and cope with the changes the Singularity will bring. There are more links below. I'm sure all sorts of questions can come to mind. I've got mine, what are yours?'s_law

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