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Interviews: Ask Ray Kurzweil About the Future of Mankind and Technology 244

Posted by samzenpus
from the future-is-now dept.
The recipient of nineteen honorary doctorates, and honors from three U.S. presidents, Ray Kurzweil's accolades are almost too many to list. A prolific inventor, Kurzweil created the first CCD flatbed scanner, the first omni-font optical character recognition, the first print-to-speech reading machine for the blind, the first text-to-speech synthesizer, and the first music synthesizer capable of recreating the grand piano and other orchestral instruments. His book, The Singularity Is Near, was a New York Times best seller. and is considered one of the best books about futurism and transhumanism ever written. Mr. Kurzweil was hired by Google in December as Director of Engineering to "work on new projects involving machine learning and language processing." He has agreed to take a short break from creating and predicting the future in order to answer your questions. As usual, you're invited to ask as many questions as you'd like, but please divide them, one question per post.
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Interviews: Ask Ray Kurzweil About the Future of Mankind and Technology

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  • by Psyborgue (699890) on Monday January 28, 2013 @12:56PM (#42716403) Homepage Journal
    Is creating a singularity a goal (immediate or long term) at Google?
  • by stenvar (2789879) on Monday January 28, 2013 @01:14PM (#42716613)

    That should be:

    A prolific self-promoter, Kurzweil claims to have created the first CCD flatbed scanner, the first omni-font optical character recognition, the first print-to-speech reading machine for the blind, the first text-to-speech synthesizer, and the first music synthesizer capable of recreating the grand piano and other orchestral instruments

    Most of these claims are actually rather dubious.

  • by Amorymeltzer (1213818) on Monday January 28, 2013 @01:17PM (#42716657)

    entries like "Human ancestors walk upright" and "art, early cities" are confusing in that I don't understand how they can be marked as epic achievements. Are you saying that if we had never learned to walk upright we would not have developed intelligence?

    Walking upright allowed us to freely use our hands. Everything since was really put on hold until that could happen. Our hands are dextrous and capable to a degree of finery not seen elsewhere. That event was huge. Art is a sign of a creative intelligent process, I don't understand why you don't see that as something "epic." Art is an enormous part of what we call "culture" which is an enormous part of what sets us apart from our evolutionary cousins.

    Are you saying that early cities were somehow superior to ant colonies? Didn't they help spread disease and cause sanitation problems?

    Yes, if only because humans are superior (at least as far as intelligence goes) to ants. There's no point in grouping together the smartest viruses for a few thousand years and hoping to get a laptop, nor would you advise a company to hire only those with room-temperature IQs. Diseases and sanitation problems, sure, but the population has moved past those issues by an order of magnitude or three, at least in many places.

  • by spire3661 (1038968) on Monday January 28, 2013 @01:31PM (#42716837) Journal
    I fucking hate this. What do you mean 'not needed anymore'. My job is not my purpose in life. I exist to exist, not to work until i die.
  • by kruach aum (1934852) on Monday January 28, 2013 @01:41PM (#42716981)
    Out of interest? While I won't deny that conflict is a major innovator and force of progress, I'm pretty sure Einstein didn't come up with special relativity because of how much he wanted to embarrass Newton. Rather, he was interested in what simultaneity meant, and then started to think. I'm not sure why things would be different after the Singularity. It could even be argued that conflict is an inhibitor of progress in some cases: Darwin didn't publish his work on evolution for twenty years because of the conflicts he foresaw. It was only his discoverer's pride that stopped Alfred Russell Wallace from getting the scoop.
  • by Golddess (1361003) on Monday January 28, 2013 @03:03PM (#42718129)

    What do you mean 'not needed anymore'.

    I believe pkbarbiedoll means that you've been fired and a robot has taken your job. Sure, your job is not your purpose in life, but you may now find it difficult to put food on your table and keep a roof over your head. So what, if anything, should society do for such displaced individuals? Are current unemployment benefits sufficient, or should we plan for some huge influx of people? What, if anything, needs to be done to avoid a new Luddite movement? Sure, we survived the first, and I am not claiming that we would not survive another. But would society have been better off if something* had been done to avoid the Luddite movement entirely? Should we just let a new Luddite movement run its course?

    *Something other than stopping/reversing technological process.

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