Ask Ray | Potential for elitization of the Singularity

April 17, 2013 by Ray Kurzweil

(credit: stock image)

Dear Professor Kurzweil,

I was hoping for your views on the potential elitization of Singularity that could lead to exacerbation of class/opportunity/economic division.

The ongoing quest for extending human life and artificially enhancing its quality testifies to our instincts for permanence and survival at all cost.

Technologically acquired supremacy breaks the well accepted paradigm that improved life span, physical and cognitive performance is possible only with practice, studious effort and a healthy lifestyle.

Enhancement made accessible to all holds potential to eliminate interpersonal rivalry, covetousness and even war, by equalizing life span and quality. All of us would be “first (beings) among equals.”

However, the more likely scenario is trenchantly divisive, with those who cannot afford such impressive enhancements being at risk of being outdone, outlived, if not exploited, by enhanced beings. A brave new world where talent and effort becomes obsolete and perfection is for sale is morally transgressive.

Joseph


Joseph,

There is an approximately 50% deflation rate for all information technology. That is why mobile phones were only affordable by the wealthy 15 years ago and now are dramatically better yet very inexpensive, so much so that there are approximately six billion cell phones in the world and about a billion smart phones.

Technology starts out affordable only by the rich at a point where it does not work very well. By the time a technology is perfected it is almost free. Even physical devices will become almost free with the advent of 3D printing.

Best,
Ray Kurzweil

related:
National Nanotechnology Initiative | “Ethical, legal and societal issues”