Kurzweil to debate Stock on ‘BioFuture vs. MachineFuture’

April 2, 2002 | Source: KurzweilAI

Ray Kurzweil will debate Gregory Stock, Director, UCLA Program on Medicine, Technology and Society, on “BioFuture vs. MachineFuture” at the “Exploring the Edges” Foresight Senior Associate Gathering this month, April 26-28, 2002 in Palo Alto, California.
Stock foresees “widespread reworking of human biology via genetic engineering: neither governments nor religious groups will be able to stop this” in the next few decades, says Foresight president Christine Peterson. “Greg sees computer technology as increasingly intelligent, but by and large not integrated with the human body.

“Kurzweil agrees with Stock that the biogenetic changes he foresees will take place, but believes that we will also see profound integration of our biological systems with nonbiological intelligence. By 2030, advances in nanotechnology will enable the routine integration of machine-based computation into the human brain, enabling full immersion virtual reality and a direct interface to forms of nonbiological intelligence. By 2040, the nonbiological portion will be far more powerful than the biological portion: we will have become cyborgs.”

In another talk, Kurzweil will present the case for an exponential technology future. “We will witness on the order of 20,000 years of progress at today’s rate of progress,” says Kurzweil, because the “paradigm shift rate (the overall rate of technical progress) is currently doubling (approximately) every decade.

“As exponential growth continues to accelerate into the first half of the twenty-first century, it will appear to explode into infinity, at least from the limited and linear perspective of contemporary humans,” resulting in “The Singularity–technological change so rapid and so profound that it represents a rupture in the fabric of human history.

“By 2030, “nanobot” (i.e., nano robot) technology will be viable, and brain scanning will be a prominent application.” This will allow us to design more intelligent parallel algorithms for our machines, enhance a person’s biological brain with intimate connections to nonbiological intelligence, and even download the human brain into a machine, he says.

“Ray is probably the only winner of the National Medal of Technology to have deeply explored the prospects for advanced nanotechnologies over the coming decades,” says Peterson. “His projections go beyond revolutionary to mind-boggling — but his calm, low-key style has helped him insert these radical memes past the mental defenses of many mainstream audiences.”

The conference will include discussions of nanotechnology, radical life extension, expanding the biosphere into space, repairing environmental damage, openness vs. privacy, machine intelligence, preventing abuse of technology, spreading tech benefits to have-nots, reining in intellectual-property law, and speeding up change to reduce risk. Speakers will include nanotechnology pioneers Eric Drexler and Ralph Merkle, venture capitalist Steve Jurvetson, maverick economist David Friedman, technology forecaster Paul Saffo, open source advocate/book publisher Tim O’Reilly, controversial law professor Tom Bell, and author Stewart Brand.

Kurzweil will also moderate a meeting of the Singularity Special Interest Group at the event.

Foresight Senior Associate Gathering