essays collection

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Kurzweil’s Law (aka “the law of accelerating returns”)

January 12, 2004 by Ray Kurzweil

In an evolutionary process, positive feedback increases order exponentially. A correlate is that the “returns” of an evolutionary process (such as the speed, cost-effectiveness, or overall “power” of a process) increase exponentially over time — both for biology and technology. Ray Kurzweil submitted on essay based on that premise to Edge.org in response to John Brockman’s question: “What’s your law?”… read more

A Dialogue on Reincarnation

January 6, 2004 by Ray Kurzweil

If you were offered physical immortality as a “Wallerstein brain” (a human brain maintained in a jar interfacing to a virtual reality through its sensory and motor neurons), would you accept it? The question came up in an email dialogue about reincarnation between Ray Kurzweil and Steve Rabinowitz, a practicing attorney in New York City (which he says may explain his need to believe in reincarnation).… read more

Foreword to Virtual Humans

October 20, 2003 by Ray Kurzweil

By the end of this decade, we will have full-immersion visual-auditory environments, populated by realistic-looking virtual humans. These technologies are evolving today at an accelerating pace, as reflected in the book Virtual Humans. By the 2030s, virtual reality will be totally realistic and compelling and we will spend most of our time in virtual environments. By the 2040s, even people of biological origin are likely to have the vast majority of their thinking processes taking place in nonbiological substrates. We will all become virtual humans.… read more

The technology of universal intelligence

October 16, 2003 by Ray Kurzweil

Levels of intelligence far greater than our own are going to evolve within this century. We will ultimately saturate all of the matter and energy in our area of the universe with our intelligence.… read more

The Future of Music in the Age of Spiritual Machines

October 13, 2003 by Ray Kurzweil

We are moving towards an era of software-based musical instruments, intelligent accompanists, and music as information, says Ray Kurzweil in highlights from his keynote speech at the 2003 Audio Engineering Society convention.… read more

Essay for E-School News

October 2, 2003 by Ray Kurzweil

Speaking at the 18th Annual Conference on “Technology and Persons with Disabilities” at California State University Northridge in March 2003, Ray Kurzweil described how key developments in science and technology will affect society, alter education and other fields, and benefit everyone, especially those with disabilities. This article is based on that address.… read more

Exponential Growth an Illusion?: Response to Ilkka Tuomi

September 13, 2003 by Ray Kurzweil

Ray Kurzweil responds to Ilkka Tuomi’s essays, “The Lives and Death of Moore’s Law” and “Kurzweil, Moore, and Accelerating Change,” in which Tuomi challenges Kurzweil’s “law of accelerating returns” and the exponential growth of semiconductor technology.… read more

Remarks about Tod Machover In Presenting the 2003 Ray Kurzweil Award of Technology in Music

August 11, 2003 by Ray Kurzweil

Ray Kurzweil presented the 2003 Ray Kurzweil Award of Technology in Music to Tod Machover at the Fourth Annual Telluride Tech Festival (August 8-10, 2003). The award was in recognition of Machover’s pioneering research at the MIT Media Lab in music technology, such as “hyperinstruments,” as well as his achievements as composer and performer.… read more

The Power of an Idea

July 6, 2003 by Ray Kurzweil

National Federation of the Blind (NFB) founder Dr. Kenneth Jernigan “realized that the pace of technology was accelerating, and these hastening advances would either be liberating for blind people, or would represent another barrier,” said Ray Kurzweil in a speech at NFB’s 2003 annual convention. Jernigan’s solution, a research and training institute, was an example of the power of an idea.… read more

Foreword to Electronic Reporting in the Digital Medical Enterprise

June 6, 2003 by Ray Kurzweil

Doctors in the year 2012 will have access to full-immersion virtual-reality training and surgical systems, microchip-based protein and gene analysis systems, knowledge-based systems providing automated guidance and access to the most recent medical research, and always-present visual displays of patient data for instant interaction via voice.… read more

Understanding the Accelerating Rate of Change

May 2, 2003 by Ray Kurzweil, Chris Meyer

We’re entering an age of acceleration. The models underlying society at every level, which are largely based on a linear model of change, are going to have to be redefined. Because of the explosive power of exponential growth, the 21st century will be equivalent to 20,000 years of progress at today’s rate of progress; organizations have to be able to redefine themselves at a faster and faster pace.… read more

Testimony of Ray Kurzweil on the Societal Implications of Nanotechnology

April 8, 2003 by Ray Kurzweil

Despite calls to relinquish research in nanotechnology, we will have no choice but to confront the challenge of guiding nanotechnology in a constructive direction. Advances in nanotechnology and related advanced technologies are inevitable. Any broad attempt to relinquish nanotechnology will only push it underground, which would interfere with the benefits while actually making the dangers worse.… read more

The Future of Life

March 30, 2003 by Ray Kurzweil

A coming era of personalized genetic medicine, breakthroughs that radically extend the human lifespan, nanomedicine, and the merger of our biological species with our own technology were among the future visions presented at TIME’s “The Future of Life” conference.… read more

THE HUMAN MACHINE MERGER: ARE WE HEADED FOR THE MATRIX?

March 2, 2003 by Ray Kurzweil

Most viewers of The Matrix consider the more fanciful elements–intelligent computers, downloading information into the human brain, virtual reality indistinguishable from real life–to be fun as science fiction, but quite remote from real life. Most viewers would be wrong. As renowned computer scientist and entrepreneur Ray Kurzweil explains, these elements are very feasible and are quite likely to be a reality within our lifetimes.… read more

Human Body Version 2.0

February 16, 2003 by Ray Kurzweil

In the coming decades, a radical upgrading of our body’s physical and mental systems, already underway, will use nanobots to augment and ultimately replace our organs. We already know how to prevent most degenerative disease through nutrition and supplementation; this will be a bridge to the emerging biotechnology revolution, which in turn will be a bridge to the nanotechnology revolution. By 2030, reverse-engineering of the human brain will have been completed and nonbiological intelligence will merge with our biological brains.… read more

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