Ray Kurzweil

Discussion in 'Science and Technology' started by Kandahar, Jan 10, 2005.

  1. Kandahar

    Kandahar Banned

    What do you guys think of the inventor/scientist/futurist Ray Kurzweil? He's probably one of the most well-known futurists in America today. He famously (or infamously) hypothesized the Law of Accelerating Returns: The rate at which our technology is increasing is itself accelerating. He believes that we'll make as much technological progress from 2000-2014 as we made from 1900-2000, and over the course of the 21st century we'll make 20,000 years of progress at today's rate. He also believes we're heading for a "Technological Singularity"; a point where we develop computers more intelligent than we are, leading to exponentially faster development, and the complete remaking of society over the span of perhaps only a few days or hours.

    Many scientists think he is on the right track, but many others think he is wildly optimistic about the future of technology. I tend to agree with him (at least for his predictions on the first few decades of this century), because I think the current trends of faster technological development will continue.

    You can read more about Kurzweil's ideas at http://www.kurzweilai.net

    What do you think?
  2. shaggie

    shaggie Senior Member

  3. Kandahar

    Kandahar Banned

    I agree that there are probably lots of important inventions that futurists have missed in the past, and will miss in the future. I think the internet was fairly well-predicted though...In fact, companies like IBM, Apple, and Sun Microsystems based a lot of their products on the up-and-coming internet revolution since the early 1980s.

    But are 56K phone lines still the norm? Anyway, when you consider that the WWW is only about eleven years old I'd say that's moving extremely fast. Maybe not as fast as many of us would like, but still pretty fast if you ask me.

    I agree completely. I think there will be a lot more ethical issues, especially as biotechnology progresses...but those who seek to impede the flow of technology will be like rocks in a stream: the water simply goes around them.

    Agreed. I think the chance of a WMD (nuclear, chemical, or biological) being used somewhere in the world (most likely causing at least hundreds of thousands of deaths) in the next few decades is nearly 100%. I hope that the technology of Western democratic governments will continue to be one step ahead of the technology of terrorist cells...but there's certainly no guarantee that that trend will continue.
  4. shaggie

    shaggie Senior Member

  5. shaggie

    shaggie Senior Member

  6. Zanman

    Zanman Member

    I think the danger regarding computer power is the development of real artificial intelligence. I am not talking of the present linear programming that mimics intelligence – for example the chess programs that consider millions of moves extremely quickly – but the recognition of hierarchy so that the program knows when to “jump” a level.

    The moment there is true artificial intelligence I think we could be in real trouble, and there may be some point where humans are seen as corruptive by the immaculate logic of the machine. Like the old Star Trek episode where Kirk and the gang came across an old droid Nomad drifting in space. Nomad’s job was to get rid of impurities, which of course eventually included the crew LOL.

    One sociological problem with advancing technology is that low-level jobs continue to be eliminated. In today’s world there is hardly any calling for muscles compared to only 50 years ago. In a company I used to work for over a 20 year span the payroll went from 1000 to about 8000, but the payroll department hardly grew at all.

    So what do you do with half the population with IQ’s of 100 and lower when there is simply no need for them, less in fact as countries like China and India offer the same grade of labor for a tenth the cost? Not just low-level jobs by the way. I was recently in New Delhi and the going rate for a C++ programmer is about $2.00 an hour!

    But I agree the biggest threat in the future will be the proliferation of nuclear weapons and the 100% certainty that some idiot will use one (or more). Of course the big hurdle used to be in delivering the payload, but that will increasingly be solved by the development of smaller and smaller nukes.

    Mossad, the Israeli Intelligence Agency, reported last year that the old Soviet Union had manufactured 52 “suitcase” nukes of about 4 – 7 kiloton payload. Russia can now only account for 48 of these. But sometime soon, if not already, a lot more countries are going to be able to manufacture suitcase nukes and so bypass the need for a delivery system.

    Who could doubt that a nut like bin Laden would use one of these in an American city if he could?

    So while it is an exciting and exhilarating world we live in it is also a chilling one.
  7. Pressed_Rat

    Pressed_Rat Do you even lift, bruh?

    Speaking of Ray Kurzweil, he is going to be on Coast to Coast AM with Art Bell this Saturday.

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