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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 | 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 | The Blind Driver Challenge

December 19, 2010 by Ray Kurzweil

blind driver challenge

Hi Ray,

I will be attending a gathering of National Federation of the Blind leaders in Daytona, Florida, on the evening before the Blind Driver Challenge event early on Saturday, Jan. 29 before the start of the Rolex 24 Race. [more information]

This high-profile event will be the first public demonstration of a blind person driving a vehicle without any form of guidance provided… 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 | 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 | 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

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 | Future battle for resource storage as a substrate for sentience

April 7, 2011 by Ray Kurzweil

universe

Ray,

A disturbing thought occurred to me recently: given that we are on the cusp of personal immortality and the entrance into the age of conscious information (for lack of a better term), it seems that there will eventually become a real resource shortage at the most fundamental level.

What I’m suggesting (and you’ve probably already considered) is that as individuals make the transition to electronic… 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 | 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 | 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 | 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 | Asimov’s ‘The Last Question’

November 27, 2012 by Ray Kurzweil

Asimov The Last Question

Dear Ray,

About Asimov’s “The Last Question” — I was captivated by Asimov’s story as a child, and again some 50 years later in reading Ray’s version of the answer in The Singularity Is Near.

Looking forward to getting his new book!

Thank you,
Ron Eckhardt

Dear Ronald,

Thanks. Yes, the evolution of intelligence runs counter to the second law.… read more

Ask Ray | How to Create a Mind thought experiment

February 10, 2013 by Ray Kurzweil

Albert Einstein

Ray,

I just finished reading How to Create a Mind. I found it both interesting and informative. At the end, I believe that there is an inherent difference between a human brain and an AI system, a difference that can’t be overcome by any amount of added speed and capacity. To illustrate this difference I have included a thought experiment:

Take the most powerful artificial brain in existence. Include all programs necessary to make… read more

Ask Ray | Thoughts on the consequences of the elimination of aging

April 8, 2013 by Ray Kurzweil

orange heads with DNA

Hello Ray,

I would like to begin by stating that I am a huge fan and supporter of yours. I read your book The Singularity Is Near last year, and I was enchanted by all of your ideas on the exponential development of human technology and science. I am 100% singularitarian.

I understand that you are a very busy man, but I would tremendously appreciate it if you… read more

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