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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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  • Your Predictions (Score:5, Interesting)

    by eldavojohn (898314) * <eldavojohn.gmail@com> on Monday January 28, 2013 @12:47PM (#42716299) Journal
    Editors of Wikipedia have taken enough care to meticulously log your predictions [wikipedia.org]. Are there any that you regret making? Are there any that you think people overlook because now it's painfully obvious but wasn't at the time?
  • by eldavojohn (898314) * <eldavojohn.gmail@com> on Monday January 28, 2013 @12:50PM (#42716325) Journal
    I have seen the graphic showing your countdown to the singularity [wikipedia.org] and something I've always wondered is how you picked these events and what makes the significant? For example, your list seems to be made of things that would prolong our existence but 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? Are you saying that early cities were somehow superior to ant colonies? Didn't they help spread disease and cause sanitation problems? Can you convince me that this list isn't just arbitrary things that fit into a line?
    • by Colonel Korn (1258968) on Monday January 28, 2013 @01:06PM (#42716517)

      I have seen the graphic showing your countdown to the singularity [wikipedia.org] and something I've always wondered is how you picked these events and what makes the significant? For example, your list seems to be made of things that would prolong our existence but 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? Are you saying that early cities were somehow superior to ant colonies? Didn't they help spread disease and cause sanitation problems? Can you convince me that this list isn't just arbitrary things that fit into a line?

      They were chosen because they create a line on a log-log plot.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Amorymeltzer (1213818)

      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 a

      • by pepty (1976012)
        I think if the plot had been prepared 120 years ago the singularity would have been forecast for about 1900.
    • by Genda (560240)

      Actually the whole point of cities demanded that human beings address the very things you mention and more, inventing culture, laws, technology, agriculture, common language, modern commerce and architecture. Cities are the birthplaces of social evolution.

  • by benjfowler (239527) on Monday January 28, 2013 @12:52PM (#42716355)

    Is Ray Kurzweil the new Jon Katz?

    • by Zeromous (668365)

      You mean resident anti-celebrity manufactured by /.'s own fragile ego?

      Sure.

    • by tehcyder (746570)

      Is Ray Kurzweil the new Jon Katz?

      That's a bit harsh. Jon Katz was (and I assume is) profoundly annoying, over-emotional and an egregiously poor writer; but at least he wasn't barking mad.

      Oopsie, I probably won't get invited to the Great "We're Gonna Live Forever" Singularity Party in 20 years' time. It is always in 20 years' time isn't it?

  • by javilon (99157) on Monday January 28, 2013 @12:55PM (#42716373) Homepage

    What do you think will come first, immortality through repair technology like SENS [sens.org], or immortality through mind uploading?

    • Immortality through repair technology will be a ad supported life extending service, with the targeted ads that appear in your conscious being based your mind model which is continuously backed up to the cloud by the mind repair nano-bots.

  • by eldavojohn (898314) * <eldavojohn.gmail@com> on Monday January 28, 2013 @12:55PM (#42716379) Journal
    I assume that the occurrence of Human Enhancement Technologies (HETs) needs to accelerate for us to hit the singularity in 2045 as you predict. While we cover a lot of them on Slashdot, they either feel like vaporware or just a small improvement on an existing HET. Of the existing technologies [wikipedia.org] in actual use they all seem a decade or more old. So where is the acceleration of HETs and their proliferation? Why am I not seeing more normal humans using HETs or at least more original HET options arising? Can you explain what I'm missing?
    • Just as a sidelight to your comment that might point towards the answer (and I'm no particular fan of the Singularity thingy) - we ARE seeing a good bit of HET in the guise of 'cheating' in the Olympics. Most of these are pretty crude chemical approaches although gene manipulation therapy is probably the next big step.

      These sorts of things are very under the radar, clandestine if not outright illegal.

      You may need to see something like William Gibson's Chiba City [wikipedia.org] start along before we see much progress.

      Hell

  • 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 elucido (870205)

      I think Google may have the goal of creating a Superintelligence which utilizes the internet as a knowledge base and results in an intelligence explosion.

      The real question is should Superintellignece be developed first by the private sector (Google) or by the public sector (Government)? Who should get it first and why?

      • by vlm (69642)

        The real question is should Superintellignece be developed first by the private sector (Google) or by the public sector (Government)? Who should get it first and why?

        In our modern crony capitalist system there is no difference at all other than PR. From a PR perspective always remember "privatize the gains, socialize the losses" so if it "works" its GOOG's baby, if it fails, its .gov's baby.

      • by the gnat (153162)

        The real question is should Superintellignece be developed first by the private sector (Google) or by the public sector (Government)? Who should get it first and why?

        The one without guns and nukes, of course. I'm not a reflexive defender of the private sector versus the government (hell, I'm employed by the government), but I'm hardly so naive as to think that just because the government creates something, it's "mine", any more than it would be if Google created it. If the US government invents superintel

      • by uncanny (954868)

        I think Google may have the goal of creating a Superintelligence which utilizes the internet as a knowledge base

        I can see it now, a race of terminators wreaking havoc on porn sets, destroying all kittens, and binge drinking, puking and kicking each other in the nuts!

    • Ray/Mr. Google - Why would we want a singularity? Will it be interesting?
    • by tehcyder (746570)

      Is creating a singularity a goal (immediate or long term) at Google?

      Why would they want that? A post-human artificial intelligence would start up in "business" on its own and put Google on the scrapheap.

  • by pkbarbiedoll (851110) on Monday January 28, 2013 @01:00PM (#42716457)

    As technology advances particularly with regard to robotics and AI, we're going to find that a large segment of the human population simply is not needed anymore. In today's political environment I'm simply not seeing the global community embracing strict population control as well as socialism in providing for those who no longer have jobs and are simply using up resources without providing anything in return.

    What do you recommend be done with these billions of people in the coming decades?

    • 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.
      • You will always have a purpose to soak up EBTs and vote for the Progressive whenever called upon.
      • 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.

      • No kidding. If the GP knows the meaning of life, I should like to hear it. People and life never were "needed". Like any inanimate object, the Earth would not miss life at all were it absent.

        It's up to us to decide how we want to live. In many ways it isn't even up to us. Like all animals, we have instincts that dictate a great deal of our behavior, honed by millions of years of evolution. Malthus worried that unrestrained greed would lead us to populate as much as possible even though it would have

      • Capitalism disagrees. Your purpose in life is to produce value or you will not receive the resources needed to exist. Your existence alone is unimportant to the economy. The closest thing to mercy you will receive is some assistance when not producing with the at least implicit intent of getting you back to producing as quickly as possible.

        Yes it's horrible and savage, but it's the reality and the GP was right about it.

    • What do you recommend be done with these billions of people in the coming decades?

      Blech. The question assumes that anybody can make an informed decision about what to tell billions of people to do.

      Personally, I'm looking forward to ten billion people who have all the food, energy, materials, and information they desire, and can't even begin to imagine the beautiful things that will come of it (other than a gradual reduction of that ten billion over time). The music we'll hear, the stories we'll read, the

  • I've read that you're not worried about climate change [pbs.org] as you believe transhumanism will prevail and we will shed this 'natural' world like a used husk by 2045 [time.com].

    So what happens if we don't actually achieve the lofty heights that futurism promises us? What happens if those extrapolations I've seen actually reach a dead end instead of allowing us to last forever and there is no distinction between man and machine? What if we ultimately turn out to be forever mortal individuals and now depend on a decrep
  • On patents (Score:5, Interesting)

    by godrik (1287354) on Monday January 28, 2013 @01:05PM (#42716503)

    You invented lots of things that proved to be very useful to a wide range of people and industries. While the patent war is going stronger than ever, do you believe that you could have succesfully develop so many ideas in the current legal context?

  • I know the age of superintelligence is near but our current concept of government is still based around documents like Constitutions which are hundreds of years old. We still rely on humans even though we know that humans are the weakest link in any information security system due to the ease at which they can be corrupted. Superintelligence would not be corruptible if done right, and it would be smarter than us all by magnitudes where it probably would be able to generate or design the best most liberating

    • I know the age of superintelligence is near...

      You "know" this? Do you have some powers of pre-cognition you would like to share with the rest of the class?

    • Superintelligence would not be corruptible if done right

      Why not?

      Or are you making the (possibly) mistaken assumption that any "superintelligence" would be less corruptible?

      Keep in mind that a "superintelligence" is likely to have motives you can't even understand, much less evaluate properly.

      Or do you mean "superintelligent slave" when you type "superintelligence"? If so, why do you assume that a "superintelligence" will put up with the whims of a bunch of monkeys?

  • P = NP? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Karganeth (1017580) on Monday January 28, 2013 @01:08PM (#42716535)
    I am certain that the algorithms being used today will never result with human level AI. If we want to design strong AI we need to first prove P = NP. This is the missing key to solving our AI problems - it's why there's a huge difference between expectations and the reality of AI. I will spend much of my life trying to prove P = NP, no matter how many tell me it's completely futile. Do you think P = NP?
    • by godrik (1287354)

      Why exactly do you think that we need to solve the P=NP problem in order to have strong AIs?

      • If P = NP, then the world would be a profoundly different place than we usually assume it to be. There would be no special value in "creative leaps," no fundamental gap between solving a problem and recognizing the solution once it's found. Everyone who could appreciate a symphony would be Mozart; everyone who could follow a step-by-step argument would be Gauss... — Scott Aaronson, MIT

        I think that this is a more accurate description of how creativity and intelligence works. People claim they "invented" or "created" a new machine or song, but in reality they just copied it from somewhere else in nature (with or without realizing it).

    • I am certain that the algorithms being used today will never result with human level AI. If we want to design strong AI we need to first prove P = NP.

      I am certain that you are ignorant about much of the field of machine intelligence.

      Must you prove P = NP to become sentient? Think man! I can train a small neural network to do OCR, or recognize shapes or colors, with more complexity it can do more things. I can train a Dog's neural network to do many tricks, the same for Parrots. Why would a digital neural network be any less capable of sentience than your own mind? I do not need advanced mathematics knowledge beyond our current understanding to cr

  • Immortality (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Amorymeltzer (1213818) on Monday January 28, 2013 @01:09PM (#42716551)

    It's been said that the first person to live forever has already been born. In what sense is this conceivably true? How would such a medical/technological advance affect society, and how on earth could we avoid something catastrophic from occurring? (If you've ever read the Red Mars trilogy, I think of what happened when the longevity treatment was introduced)

  • 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.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward
      Let's see. The first synthesizer able to play sounds of natural instruments... can it be Mellotron (1962), which has sets of magnetic tapes for different sounds? Kurzweil was 14 then. Text--to--speech electronic devices? Some are from early 60s as well. Omni--font OCR? From Wikipedia: Kurzweil is often credited with inventing omnifont OCR, but it was in use by companies, including CompuScan, in the late 1960s and 1970s. Print--to--speech? From Wikipedia: In 1949, RCA engineers worked on the first primitive
      • by Nerdfest (867930)

        If Iremember correctly, the Mellotron used tapes, so would not really be a 'synthesizer' as such. That may be the distinction ... or TFA could just be wrong.

  • by ewg (158266) on Monday January 28, 2013 @01:16PM (#42716635)

    What's the furthest future entry in your personal calendar?

  • by eldavojohn (898314) * <eldavojohn.gmail@com> on Monday January 28, 2013 @01:21PM (#42716697) Journal
    Something that bothers me about the singularity is the complete removal of conflict. Okay, we've cheated death eternally, we are merged with machines, nationality is a distant memory and Earth is completely terraformed to be computing space for our vast artificial intelligences. There will no longer be man vs man or man vs environment. Where is the conflict? What causes us to strive for anything? It sounds like a veritable utopia and I should just kick back and let it happen. How will progress be made without conflict?
    • 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 javilon (99157)

      Well, right now there is an economic war where the middle class all around the world is being obliterated. The likely end result will be a few very powerful and very wealthy entities/individuals owning most of the resources and technology, and competing between them in ways that we won't understand except when they use us.

      They have been able to run around democracy and democratic institutions already. Unemployment is growing all around the word, as is social inequalities, the financial / industrial elites o

    • You mean like this? [xkcd.com] There is always a new source of conflict. CEOs who have hundreds of millions of dollars still keep working instead of heading to the beach each day with blackjack and hookers. Hand-to-hand combat is mainly a thing of the past, so we created football. We have science contests, piano contests, art contests, etc....
    • by ddtstudio (61065)

      All "human AI" interactions will have a PvP mode, of course.

      (Written as someone who is not a believer in Kurzweil.)

    • by T.E.D. (34228)

      More to the point, how will progress be made without death? It is a commonly held trusim that change in scientific thought happens more by believers in old paradigms dying out, rather than being converted by the evidence of new discoveries. As Max Planck said, "Science advances one funeral at a time."

      Societal change most likely happens the same way. It is quite possible that our short lifespans are part of natural selection's design to keep our societies flexible enough to adapt to changing conditions.

      I

  • Given your predictions for transformation of humans into enhanced beings and eventually a transhumanist society do you feel there is an age in mind where if you are at or below said age death will be avoidable? If so, are we at that point and will twenty, thirty, or forty year olds today be able to cheat death in increments long enough to sustain them to immortality ?
  • What do you think about the D-Wave quantum computer? Do you think it will be able to display a 'quantum speedup' over conventional computers? If it does, what will the consequences be for your singularity roadmap?

  • I saw you and your movie in Breckenridge in 2010. Although it was a little too long it did have lots of interesting pieces. Will it see general release sometime?
  • Why progress? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by vlm (69642) on Monday January 28, 2013 @01:44PM (#42717023)

    Progress... why? You express it as a function of time. Why not a function of "energy controlled"? So when the EROEI of crude oil and/or coal drops below critical value then progress stops and regress begins, right?

  • by Sique (173459) on Monday January 28, 2013 @01:52PM (#42717115) Homepage
    As mentioned on Slashdot before [slashdot.org], Bob Gordon argues [voxeu.org] that there have been three Industrial Revolutions, the Steam Revolution in the late 18th century, the Electrical and Car Revolution at the turn of the 20th century and the Data Revolution since the 1950ies. Differently than the first two, which yielded immense productivity and wealth increases, the Data Revolution is not living up to its promises yet, though we have many of its aspects already in place, data processing power is at everyone's[*] disposal, a world wide communication network lets you reach a big part of the world population[*] for nearly zero cost, a tremendous source of information is readily available to everyone[*].
    [*] everyone either living in the Northwestern hemisphere or being wealthy and influencial enough.
    1) Do you agree with Bob Gordon's notion?
    2a) If yes, why is that, and will it change in the near future?
    2b) If no, where do you see the great increase in productivity and wealth, Bob Gordon is missing?
    • seems like we have immense productivity and wealth increases from the data revolution. is there evidence to the contrary?

    • by T.E.D. (34228)

      I can answer this one. Bob Gordon is looking at the wrong things. The real "revolutions" in history have all been information revolutions. Some poeple get too mesmerized by the effects of them to look for the common causes. You have language, then writing, then printing, then electronic information. Each one allowed members of the society that used it access to orders of magnitude more information than previous ones, essentially putting them in a whole different class.

      The implication of this is that if yo

  • When predicting, there are always factors of uncertainties OR unknowns. I wonder if you would be willing to recall some of your predictions and give a few examples. What I would like to know is:

    What are some things you didn't (or don't) know about but which you could (or can) predict if they would (or will) happen?

    What are some things you did (or do) know about but couldn't (or can't) predict if they would (or will) happen?

    I guess I've asked two questions actually, but maybe you could have pr
  • Ray, what do you foresee as the main short and long term effects of capturing an asteroid and bringing it into Earth orbit? (As currently being discussed on /.)
  • Is AI more dangerous than nuclear weapons? I'd like to hear your thoughts on how/if this technology should be controlled / monitored.
  • Dear Mr. Kurzweil,

    Thanks for your inspiring and meaningful contributions to the sciences and humanity. My question may relate to your work in artificial intelligence, but is about human learning.

    Over the past century, society has advanced in many ways. Digital technologies have played a particularly significant role in advances in science, medicine and other forms of scholarship.

    Yet our primary schools are much the same as they have been for this past hundred years. I wonder what you might think schools

  • Ray - I respect your work, especially to the extent that I'm planning on 2030 being a heck of a lot of fun (I'll only be in my fifties, chronologically, and I've cleaned up my health considerably thanks to you)! Yet, given the clockwork-like march of progress, I have to ask if you ever wonder if you're needed. Is this just a ton of fun for you to work at Google on this, or do you feel you're going to be making important contributions that wouldn't have been made otherwise (or later)? Or does the motion o

  • There are some futures that can't be avoided, even if predicted (i.e. if a big enough asteroid is coming right into our way, not even trying with all our resources could avoid it), some that could, but won't because social forces and/or inertia (i.e. global warming), but what about maybe undesirable futures that we know what actions in our side could cause them and is cheap to not take them?

    The problem with predictions is that if they are known enough, become part of the input data that could shape the rea

  • Do you not feel a need to refine the singularity concept and flesh it out a bit?

    The idea that I feel you convey is that we have an accelerated progress rate(which I find nothing wrong with), but that this would lead to a lightning-strike like event like a singularity, is lowering a religious rapture-like veil over it.

    Whereas, to use the fundamental view: a exponential curve climbing to a singularity, we'd find nothing instantaneous and rapture like about the singularity moment at all. Because the curve is

  • I've noticed a trend that as technology advances, the ability for a single person (or small group) to wreak havoc grows larger and larger. 9/11 taught us that a mere dozen motivated crazy people can kill over 3000. Nuclear technology falling into the wrong hands could endanger many times more. Now imagine a similar scenario in the far future, with virtually unlimited computing power and advanced technology such as the power to fab any weapon or create any pathogen. A single madman may be able to cause d
  • Ray Kurzweil loves to talk about the Future of Mankind and Technology. Ask him about something else... anything else, please!!!

  • Will The Singularity become manifest and be able to deliver what you claim it can, before the global economy has to absorb and adapt to millions of First World citizens becoming permanently unemployed because of increases in "Productivity" due to computerization/robotization?
  • by HuguesT (84078)

    One main driver for progress has been access to energy in various forms. It is likely that this trend will continue.

    Have you thought of plotting a list of life an human landmark achievement not just vs. time but vs. energy required ?

  • Given that time is running out on worldwide access to current forms of cheap and relatively safe energy, how can we ensure we have a future as thinking beings, not to mention access to sufficient resources to make the singularity happen? This seems like a hard problem.

  • Do you think that we, as a species, will ever evolve beyond the need for a god?

    • the need of a god is independent from the presence of a god. Do cellular automata need someone to observe them? nope*. Can they evolve not to need a PC who runs the simulation? not without ceasing to be cellular automata.

      (*) but if they don`t become self aware and all observers die, they become meaningless. John 1 seems IMHO to touch this, if you consider "the Word" - the Greek logos - as "the reason", "the meaning".

  • Hi Ray. Is it your experience that people with nonstandard gender perception/expression seem to have fundamentally more complex brains/minds and for that reason tend to be two or more sigma above in intelligence? As well because of the presence (typically) of an over developed corpus collosum, they tend to have both the linear Problem/Spacial Relation solving skills normally associate with male pattern thinking while at the same time deeply enhanced creative/inventive/intuitive thinking skills? This is less

  • I've read that you ingest huge daily amounts of vitamins, minerals, and possibly other supplements. Would you share the specifics of what you ingest and in what quantities? Are your choices based on research or something else?
    • See his book http://www.fantastic-voyage.net/ [fantastic-voyage.net] However, a mistake Ray Kurzweil seems to be making is in assuming that individually isolated vitamins and such will have the same affect on the human body as the same nutrient as part of a whole food (the kind of food all humans have been eating for thousands of years -- until fairly recently). Dr. Joel Fuhrman in "Eat to Live" and his other writings shows why that assumption of individual nutrients having value is generally wrong (for example, with isolated bet

  • There is a way to break the optimal future into lets say 20 bite size steps or domains. Candy coat each step such that the existing paradigm see's the next step before them as a critical and necessary requirement, a pressing solution to the vital needs of that moment. So, there is no argument, no backlash. Each step becomes an obvious and pressing necessity, opening a door to a new room demanding without obvious coercion, that we cross the room and address the next door. I realize I'm speaking in the broad

  • What were your earliest childhood experiences/activities that foreshadowed your future as an inventor?

  • In your book (The Singularity is Near) you mention that you believe that we are the first intelligent civilization (capable of achieving a singularity) to evolve over the whole of the observable universe. You see this as the answer to the Fermi Paradox, the famous question of "Where Are They?" - the mystery that we do not see civilizations that have overrun their host galaxies.

    You made this prediction before the stampede of exoplanet discoveries, and we now have somewhat more data on the number of habitable

    • by geekoid (135745)

      The Fermi paradox isn't.

      Space, as it turns out is REALLY FUCKING VOLUMINOUS*. Travel, as it turn out, is really fucking slow by comparison. Space expands faster the we can even theoretically move.

      Not all places are habitable.
      Planets with life must also have access to cheap energy, like oil, in order to progress
      And that life has to have the drive to innovate and spread.
      And it has to have the ability to manipulate objects and tool.
      And it has to rise to the technology of radio during a period that means it's r

  • Life's history on earth is odd. Basic bacterial (prokaryotic) life appeared very early on this planet (almost as soon as was possible), then did nothing for 3 billion years - no multicellular life, no complex systems. Then the Cambrian Explosion gave us sudden, enormous specialization, potentially enabled by eukaryotic cells. In a geologically short time since, and with a few wrong turns, it produced us.

    This narrative is suspicious. Why are there all these impulse events in the geological record? Do you bel

  • The problems of fair allocation of profits, food and energy will only get worse as robotic efficiencies and AI management intelligence become ubiquitous. As a general rule throughout history humanity has functioned on four categories of people: the managers (political, business), workers/farmers, intellectuals and the dependents. The dependents don't participate fully in a market economy due to various reasons including sickness, poverty or lack of available work.

    As the managers and intellectuals construc

  • I wonder if in our march towards developing a machine that behaves human we are also creating humans that act more and more like machines. Is it possible we will ever encounter a future where the Turing test is passed NOT because a machine has been developed which acts human, but instead because humans are acting more and more like machines?

    I find myself agreeing with Neil Postman's premise in Technopoly more and more. That as technology becomes deified we start behaving more like machines and trust less

  • He hasn't done anything note worthy in decades, and what he did do was being done by 100s of others.

    This guy is a self promoter ad nothing more. His 'predictions' are not only short sighted, but an obvious attempt to not deal with his own mortality, sells useless vitamins.

    'The age of the spiritual machine' is a combination of 'duh' and nonsense never before seen in the industry.

      Frankly, /. can do better.

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