In The Future, Cyborg Singers Will Be Our Teachers

Illustration for article titled In The Future, Cyborg Singers Will Be Our Teachers

The man in charge of Google's new university plans to become a cyborg and dreams of the day when he can fulfill his fantasy of being a female rock singer. Where can I sign up?

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The UK's Guardian newspaper interviewed Ray Kurzweil, the visionary in charge of the Google-sponsored, NASA-endorsed Singularity University (opening next month), and uncovered his wonderful theory of what's next in human evolution:

We have now the software of life - the code that underlines it. We have tools now to change the software. How often do you go without updating the software on your cellphone? Probably not more than a couple of weeks as it updates automatically. When was the last time you updated the software running in your body? It is out of date... People ask me whether I think taking all these [vitamin] supplements will allow me to live hundreds of years. No. The point is only to stay in good shape another 15 years or so before we have developed the ability to reprogram our biology through nanotechnology using nanobots - blood-cell sized devices in our bloodstream that will keep us healthy.

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But that's not all he's hoping technology will do to our bodies, according to the Guardian's Ed Pilkington:

His prediction in that regard is that by 2029 computers will be able to pass the Turing test - that is, pass themselves off as human in conversation. Soon after that the "singularity" will have been reached, the point at which artificial intelligence will so far exceed the human brain that ordinary mortals will no longer be able to keep up.

By 2035 the human brain and computers will begin to merge - literally. Those nanobots will be used to vastly extend the reach of human intelligence. They will allow us to control all our senses by computer and enter a full virtual reality in which we could become other people. (Ray tells me that since the age of eight his fantasy has been to become a female rock singer called Ramona.)

I don't know what makes me happier; the possibility that he may be right, or the fact that this man is in charge of people's education.


'The future is going to be very exciting' [Guardian.co.uk]

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DISCUSSION

Anekanta
Anekanta - spoon denier

I never know what to make of transhumanism—especially Kurzweil. As others here have said, he seems almost naively optimistic about how and when this will all come about, and what it will all mean.

The other thing that gets me is that the whole "singularity" concept—even the concept of uploading and living in a virtual world, perhaps occasionally reincarnating in a meat body...

Well, it all sounds suspiciously like various metaphysical ideas I've encountered before—except with a technological bent.

Depending on the day and who is speaking, the singularity does indeed seem to be a "rapture of the nerds," and transhumanism takes on the qualities of a fledgling religion.

"In the beginning, there was chaos. Then there was the singularity, and it was good..."

See—I'm not trying to shoot anyone down here. I'm sure many of the changes Ray mentions will come to pass. I just don't think it's really anything new, as far as the ultimate fate of anyone's consciousness is concerned.