If we can get through the next 10-20 years, we might just see the end of death by 2045.
It may sound pseudo-religious, but Ray Kurzweil bases his predictions on evidence, and he’s been right 86% of the time. Bill Gates calls him the “best in the world at predicting the future.”
The technological Singularity, as Ray Kurzweil defines it, is “… a future period during which the pace of technological change will be so rapid, its impact so deep, that human life will be irreversibly transformed. Although neither utopian nor dystopian, this epoch will transform the concepts that we rely on to give meaning to our lives, from our business models to the cycle of human life, including death itself.”
Ok, wait… back up… “death itself”?
Yes, according to the theory of technological singularity, put forth by leading futurists that have been right many times before, within the next 20 years, humanity will create superhuman intelligence that is capable of creating intelligence greater than its own.
By then, we might all be able to upload our consciousness – our entire personalities might be copied into the huge banks of memory – enabling us to live forever. We might live inside machines – mobile, like robots – or maybe even transcend physicality altogether, living in virtual worlds.
By looking at the implications of exponential growth of information technology, Kurzweil predicts that even before the Singularity happens, the advancement of artificial intelligence will enable us to:
- reprogram our biology away from disease
- back up our brains
- stop ageing
- live indefinitely
Kurzweil, author of the Singularity is Near (free PDF), believes there is nothing good or noble about death. That we simply have no alternative but to rationalise it as a good thing. However, death means a loss of every one you care about, death is about unrealised ideas, and nothing but a profound and lonely sad promise of mere nothingness.
Instead, Ray believes that “there will be no distinction, post-Singularity, between human and machine or between physical and virtual reality.” In other words, we’ll be able to upload our brains, and live in either reality, indefinitely.
Heady stuff. If you’re interested in this topic, I’ll be sampling the opinions of Second Life residents at today’s (Wednesday, 4 March) Basilique Chat Salon at 2pm. You’re welcome to join us.