Notwithstanding FORTUNE magazine’s portrayal of him as a futurist (“The smartest (or the nuttiest) futurist on Earth”, May 14 issue), Ray Kurzweil has demonstrated an eerie sense of delusion.
An obvious indication of his delusional nature is that the man intends not to die. And he’s planning to achieve that by taking 230 supplement pills, having intravenous supplement treatments once a week, exercising and drinking green tea. This, he claims, will “reprogram” his body chemistry and stop aging: “By most measures, my biological age is about 40, and I have some hormone and nutrient level of a person in his 30s.”
Yeah, right! He forgot to mention that his emotional and psychological age is probably somewhere nearer 10, or even lower. Just read this account of his meeting with Peter Diamandis, one of his true believers and creator of the X Prize in the FORTUNE article:
Diamandis pulls out a plastic bag of supplement pills and explains he’s up to about 30 a day. Kurzweil reaches into his jacket for some of his own supplements. “His pills are bigger than my pills!” says Diamandis.
Then, more seriously, he asks Kurzweil if he ever gets nosebleeds from the supplement regimen. Kurzweil doesn’t. “I think it might be the memory pills,” says Diamandis.
No wonder this guy advocates using nanobots to maintain the human brain. He’s brain dead.
Kurzweil’s misguided view stems from the fact that he believes computers will surpass humans in intelligence by 2027, and by 2045, “strictly biological” humans won’t be able to keep up. He says that everything will be subject to his law of accelerating returns because “everything is ultimately becoming information technology”. Well, only if you believe in his crap that human beings are spiritual machines. The ultimate future he envisions makes one cringe at the overtones of a future society that has been portrayed in science fiction as dystopian: one in which humans are fused with or dominated by machines and technology so thoroughly that human meaning and the “human spirit” are lost completely.
The way Kurzweil talks about the creation of artificial intelligence sounds as if some day we’ll invent HAL and start talking to it. Ever since Alan Turing described the Turing Test, people have described AI in terms of ability to generate and understand language, ability to make human-like decisions, ability to show and understand emotions. In other words, the ability to relate to humans. There is no reason to believe that AI capable of thinking or communicating like us will exist on a human scale.
As one critic argued: “Computers, as we currently build them, just aren’t very good at doing biological-brain-like things. That’s not to say that they never will be, but thinking that raw processing speed is the only thing between us and fleets of C-3POs seems to ignore a lot of what the history of AI has already taught us.”
Hence, I think too much credit is given to the so-called “Kurzweil Curve” (see graphic). It assumes that all the while technology is advancing, human experience and knowledge will remain stagnant. At some point, the rate at which new technology is developed will become limited by the rate at which the infrastructure for the prior technology is deployed. Cellular communication is one example.
It is also easy for Kurzweil to play connect-the-dots based upon an arbitrary selection of milestones and paradigm shifts to predict future trends. Read the related stories below that expose the flaws in Kurzweil’s theory of exponential growth.