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Ask Ray | Question about molecular assemblers

February 21, 2014

DNA linkers allow different kinds of nanoparticles to self-assemble and form relatively large-scale nanocomposite arrays. This approach allows for mixing and matching components for the design of multifunctional materials. (credit: Brookhaven National Laboratory)

Hello Ray,

I finished reading your book not long ago, and I had a question regarding your opinion of molecular assemblers.

Suppose molecular assemblers are indeed proven to be feasible on a large scale and we are given an infinite abundance to produce as much as we want — limited only by the amount of matter in our vicinity — with minimal effort.

If this scenario comes… read more

Ask Ray | Thoughts on Amazon’s plans to use drones for delivery

December 4, 2013 by Ray Kurzweil

Amazon Prime Air drone in warehouse

Dear readers,

I am reviewing the recent news on Amazon’s interest in using unmanned drones to make product deliveries.

There is public discussion about the feasibility of this logistically, and some concerns about using drones in public due to privacy and other issues.

You can read some background on Amazon’s plans in this report by 60 Minutes:

CBS News | “Amazon unveils futuristic planread more

Ask Ray | We could have had the benefits of the Singularity years ago

November 15, 2010 by Ray Kurzweil

brain plug

Dear Ray,

I’ve written a book about the future of software: After the Software Wars. I talk about Linux primarily, but it has implications for things like how we can have driverless cars and other cool technology faster.

The book starts with a quote by John McCarthy, the inventor of Lisp: “Some people think much faster computers are required for Artificial Intelligence, as… read more

Ask Ray | Your recent book mentioned cuteness and made me wonder

September 14, 2013 by Ray Kurzweil

baby kitten and puppy

Ray,

Your recent book on creating intelligence mentioned cuteness in passing, and it made me wonder: why are most baby animals so cute. Naked mole rat is a possible exception?

They can’t look cute so we become gaga, if not for we humans, then it has to be for the parents, and if cuteness is not an exclusively human concept, its origins must be way back in time… read more

Ask Ray | How do you find the motivation to live forever?

May 26, 2012 by Ray Kurzweil

Transcendent Man poster earth

Dear Ray:

How do you find motivation to want to live forever? How do you find comfort in your father’s death, knowing you may never truly see him again — only an avatar of what he’d represent?

John Hansen

John:

I have the motivation to live to tomorrow, metaphorically speaking. I think everyone has that motivation. As we get to times in the… read more

Ask Ray | Fermi Paradox and the Singularity

June 9, 2011 by Ray Kurzweil

(A graphical representation of the Arecibo message, sent as radio waves into space in an attempt to actively communicate human existence to alien civilizations. credit: Wikipedia)

Hello Ray,

This may seem asinine but I had a thought regarding the Fermi Paradox and the Singularity. (Wikipedia: “The Fermi paradox is the apparent contradiction between high estimates of the probability of the existence of extraterrestrial civilizations and the lack of evidence for, or contact with, such civilizations.”)

As you well know there is nowhere near enough life in the galaxy (as we see it… read more

Ask Ray | A little thought experiment on cognitive functions

August 15, 2013 by Ray Kurzweil

Image created with the Connectome Mapping Toolkit (credit: University of Lausanne and Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne)

Dear Ray,

After finishing reading The Singularity Is Near and How to Create a Mind I have a few questions about some higher level cognitive functions in regards to your theory of pattern recognizer construction of the brain.

First, you believe that all forms of organized information systems have some form of consciousness albeit at varying degrees of magnitude.

More importantly there seems to be a positive… read more

Ask Ray | Will future people lose sight of their humanity?

November 30, 2011 by Ray Kurzweil

A Nice Place to Visit

Dear Ray:

Have you seen this Twilight Zone episode, “A Nice Place to Visit?” I think it is a good illustration of the likely consequences of our future.

I’m eager for my 12-year-old son to watch Transcendent Man with me. I think it’s important for him to understand the implications of free will.

Resa

Resa,

Thanks. Yes, I’m very familiar… read more

Ask Ray | Will human intelligence amplication widen the divide between ‘haves’ and ‘have nots’?

May 11, 2011 by Ray Kurzweil

The face of a robot woman.

Dear Mr. Kurzweil,

My name is David Gonzalez, and I am a high school senior. I have been doing extensive research on the Singularity and the technologies used to bring about these changes and plan to major in bioengineering in college. I have some concerns as to the nature of our technological progression towards the eventual dawning of the Singularity. 

You have mentioned that the exponential growth of technology will… read more

Ask Ray | How do you respond to Noam Chomsky’s claim that ‘Watson is not good AI’?

February 19, 2011 by Ray Kurzweil

brain chip

Hello,

I was wondering if I could get a comment from Mr. Kurzweil. I know he thinks Watson will win the Jeopardy! match — I agree. Professor Noam Chomsky has told me that Watson is not good AI, though, and I’m curious how Kurzweil would respond to Chomsky’s words, found here.

I read your article in PC Magazine, which is what persuaded me to… read more

Ask Ray | Science and God

March 21, 2011 by Ray Kurzweil

sky

Hi Ray,

It was nice to see you again at the Transcendent Man film screening. I enjoyed the movie and the discussion. The way I see it, over time we have been discovering the intelligence that is manifested in nature. This intelligence is much greater than our own —  however, piece by piece, we have been stitching it together.

The point is that we have been making these discoveries… read more

Ask Ray | The essential self and the continuity of pattern

March 21, 2011 by Ray Kurzweil

science of consciousness

Ray,

Congratulations!  I saw you yesterday on PBS NewsHour. I had no idea that teaching a computer to win at Jeopardy was so much harder than teaching it to play chess. You explained it well. The computer has to appreciate jokes and irony, which is much harder than making logical deductions.

The Time magazine cover mentions immortality. I am convinced that through your work,… read more

Ask Ray | Study shows a 30% lower rate of breast cancer mortality with supplement use

December 30, 2013 by Terry Grossman

Breast Cancer Research and Treatment cover

Dear readers,

Here is a study coming out of the large and well respected Women’s Health Initiative showing positive results for supplements and breast cancer.

Unfortunately, the media has largely ignored it.

It seems there is a strong media bias to headline studies suggesting negative or no benefit results and to ignore positive ones that do show benefit. For example, this study shows a 30% lower rate… read more

Ask Ray | The future of human self-awareness: deeper mirrors

November 15, 2010 by Ray Kurzweil

The False Mirror, by René Magritte, 1928. Oil on canvas. © 2010 C. Herscovici, Brussels / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York.

Hello Ray,

In the last few years I have been basically writing in Persian and hardly anything in English. One thing I’ve been recently discussing that I thought may be of interest to you is that it seems to me the next stage of human consciousness will be about being self-aware of ourselves in a different body.

Maybe recognizing ourselves in the mirror after plastic surgery is the first… read more

Ask Ray | Welcome, new computer overlords!

March 21, 2011 by Ray Kurzweil

hail ants

Ray, 

I noticed in one of your recent essays (on IBM’s Watson) you say “I, for one, would then regard it (an AI) as human.” I, for one, find that to be your most controversial statement in that article. Apparently, Jeopardy! champion Ken Jennings did you one better the next day when he wrote on his screen (as part of his final written wager) before being defeated by Watson: “I,… read more

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