[opendtv] Re: Kurzweil: Computers will enable people to live forever

  • From: Tom Barry <trbarry@xxxxxxxxxxx>
  • To: opendtv@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
  • Date: Tue, 21 Nov 2006 22:09:46 -0500

Typically when I know a bit about some branch of technology I can make predictions of changes in the human condition of the future. Sometimes I'm right, maybe even often.

But I fairly often get the time frame too soon and things always seem to take longer than necessary to really use new technology. Just look at digital TV.

I suspect Kurweil falls into the same trap. Just because we will have some technology does not mean it will be available to people.

But given time I'm fairly certain we can create machines much smarter than us. And maybe we are much dumber than we think if we are really willing to create new species with which we might compete very poorly.

Imagine competing in finance with a super machine intelligence, or with some billionaire cyber-enhanced to have an IQ of 2000 or so.

Maybe eventually the planet Earth will be set aside as a preserve for purely bio-humans, treated as a quaint reminder of primitive species. Say much as some look at the Amish or the bushman today.

Sometimes both AI and nanotechnology scare the heck out of me. I guess I'll just go get my implants and marry one of those hot Cylons.

- Tom

Manfredi, Albert E wrote:
"Matrix" and "Battlestar Galactica" had it about right, then.

In the late 19th Century, everyone was looking for a literal "fountain
of youth." Still doing the same thing, only now it's with science and
engineering. Maybe we'll all get to see UHDTV, by plugging the signal
directly into our navel.


Kurzweil: Computers will enable people to live forever

Sharon Gaudin
(11/21/2006 10:36 AM EST)
URL: http://www.eetimes.com/showArticle.jhtml?articleID=195200017

In just 15 years, we'll begin to see the merger of human and computer
intelligence that ultimately will enable people to live forever. At
least that's the prediction of author and futurist Ray Kurzweil.

Kurzweil told a keynote audience at last week's SCO6 supercomputing
conference that nanobots will roam our blood streams fixing diseased or
aging organs, while computers will back up our human memories and
rejuvenate our bodies by keeping us young in appearance and health.

The author of the book The Singularity Is Near, Kurzweil says within a
quarter of a century, non-biological intelligence will match the range
and subtlety of human intelligence. He predicts that it will then soar
past human ability because of the continuing acceleration of
information-based technologies, as well as the ability of machines to
instantly share their knowledge.

In an interview with InformationWeek, Kurzweil said people and computers
will intermix with nanobots, blood cell-sized robots, that will be
integrated into everything from our clothing to our bodies and brains.
People simply need to live long enough-another 15 to 30 years-to live
forever. Think of it as replacing everyone's "human body version 1.0"
with nanotechnology that will repair or replace ailing or aging tissue,
he says. Parts will become easily replaceable.

"A $1,000 worth of computation in the 2020s will be 1,000 times more
powerful than the human brain," says Kurzweil, adding that in 25 years
we'll have multiplied our computational power by a billion. "Fifteen
years from now, it'll be a very different world. We'll have cured cancer
and heart disease, or at least rendered them to manageable chronic
conditions that aren't life threatening. We'll get to the point where we
can stop the aging process and stave off death."

Kurzweil isn't writing science fiction. In fact, Microsoft's Bill Gates,
a robotics director at Carnegie Mellon University, an MIT professor, and
a physicist have all endorsed his book. He has received the National
Medal of Technology and the Lemelson-MIT prize. The directors of the
National Institute of Health have asked him to speak to their members.
Kurzweil says he's simply looking back and measuring the computational
progress the human race has made over the last century and then
projecting that same line of progress forward into the near future.

Actually, we'll hit a point where human intelligence simply can't keep
up with, or even follow, the progress that computers will make,
according to Kurzweil. He expects that non-biological intelligence will
have access to its own design plans and be able to improve itself
rapidly. Computer, or non-biological, intelligence created in the year
2045 will be one billion times more powerful than all human intelligence

"Supercomputing is behind the progress in all of these areas," Kurzweil
says, adding that a prerequisite for non-biological intelligence is to
reverse-engineer biology and the human brain. That will give scientists
a "toolkit of techniques" to apply when developing intelligent
computers. In a written report, he said, "We won't experience 100 years
of technological advance in the 21st century; we will witness on the
order of 20,000 years of progress, or about 1,000 times greater than
what was achieved in the 20th century."

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

-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";
-One trick we'll have to master is staying ahead of the game. Kurzweil
warns that terrorists could, obviously, use this same technology against
us. For example, they could build and spread a bioengineered biological
virus that's highly powerful and stealthy.

According to Kurzweil, we're not that far away from solving a medical
problem that has plagued scientists and doctors for quite some time now:
the common cold. He notes that while nanotechnology could go into our
bloodstreams and knock it out, before we even get to that stage,
biotechnology should be able to cure the cold in just 10 years.

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Tom Barry                       trbarry@xxxxxxxxxxx     
Find my resume and video filters at www.trbarry.com

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