The New Yorker | Silicon Valley’s quest to live forever
April 5, 2017
publication: The New Yorker
column: A Reporter at Larger
story excerpts from interview with Ray Kurzweil:
1. | Can billions of dollars of high-tech research succeed in making death optional?
Can billions of dollars of high-tech research succeed in making death optional? One approach to end aging is replacing body parts as they fail. Another is finding a master key to youth.
Bill Maris is founder & CEO of successful investment company GV, owned by Alphabet. He comforts himself by imagining how he can end aging & disease — how can we fix the problem permanently for everyone? He decided to build a company that would solve death, now called Calico, also owned by Alphabet.
He discussed his idea with Ray Kurzweil, the futurist who popularized the concept of singularity — the idea that humans will merge with computer artificial intelligence, and by year 2045 transcend our biological limitations. Kurzweil was enthusiastic.
2. | Ray Kurzweil is an optimizer
Immortalists fall into 2 camps. One camp believes we can re-tool human biology, remain in our bodies. The second camp, led by Ray Kurzweil, says we’ll eventually merge with mechanical bodies and / or with the cloud. Kurzweil is an optimizer, he invented a machine that reads books to the blind. His inventions improved dramatically over time. He’s sure what he calls “the law of accelerating returns for human longevity” is beginning.
3. | We will have regenerated organs & personally tailored therapies
I met with Ray Kurzweil, a director of engineering at Google. Kurzweil uses the term Bridge 1 to describe current medical technology to slow aging. He thinks Bridge 2 will be in 15 years: we will have regenerated organs, and personally tailored therapies for cancer. Bridge 3 in the 2030s will be nano robots the size of blood cells — cleaning up damage from inside the human body. In Bridge 4 nano robots will connect our brains to the cloud, then human intelligence will expand.
For Ray Kurzweil, the acceptance of elderly death is no saner than early death. “Death is a great robber of meaning. It’s a robber of love, a complete loss of ourselves, and a tragedy.”
on the web | essentials
on the web | background
good stories on this topic | reading
Scientific American | Future of Medicine 2015: special report
7 stories on the way nano-medicine is revolutionizing health care.