Is the Singularity Near?

by on September 21, 2005 at 8:00 am in Books | Permalink

The first half of the twenty-first century will be characterized by three overlapping revolutions — in Genetics, Nanotechnology, and Robotics.  These will usher in what I referred to earlier as Epoch Five, the beginning of the Singularity.

So writes Ray Kurzweil.  In other words, we will reverse engineer the human brain and turn people into computer uploads, all within the next century.  At the very least you will be an advanced cyborg.  In the meantime buy the book (p.s.: you can stop worrying about the Medicare fiscal train wreck, although you should exercise more to reach immortality).

No, I won’t dispute the science on any single point, but nonetheless I feel confident in my skepticism.  I am still waiting for an Internet Explorer that doesn’t crash, and for an NBA with the common sense to move out the three-point line.  More generally, Kurzweil has thirty-four good arguments why his scenario will happen, but only one of those has to fail.

Still, Ray Kurzweil must be the most important thinker today, if only in expected value terms, putting the complexities of Pascal’s Wager aside.  It is no longer intellectually acceptable not to know his major arguments.  Here is the book’s web site.  Glenn Reynolds offers useful commentary and linksArnold Kling is a fanAddendum: Read James Miller’s TCS review as well.

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