Comments on Ray Kurzweil’s Book: The Singularity Is Near

I read  from the book. I was persuaded by the section documenting ogarithmic growth in technology development, computer speeds, miniaturization, technology ubiquity, price declines for computing capacity. That part is undeniable.

I did notice one prediction that Kurzweil missed. One of his predictions- “We will have the requisite hardware to emulate human intelligence with supercomputers by the end of this decade”- failed . As he was writing in 2005, the end of the decade is upon us today and that particular prediction has not come to pass. It doesn’t even seem close. This calls into question the likelihood of all his other predictions coming to pass on schedule. Granted, even with the schedule set back, many of his predictions could certainly be fulfilled.

One of my objections to his enthusiasm has to do with the role of body in our personhood. Here’s a quote from the book:

In virtual reality, we can be a different person both pysically and emotionally. In fact, other people (such as your romatic partner) will be able to select a different body for you than you might select for yourself, (and vice versa).

Who then are they making love with? Body and emotion, history and memory are tied up in one unique individual.

Kurzweil imagines all our lives wrapped up in only the intelligence aspect. He thinks we can download our knowledge, emotions, personality and memories into the computer and live forever in a constantly evolving, ever happier, ever more stimulated state. My question: Since memories are the basis of personal knowledge, where will new people, intelligences who we bring into being, who exist only in the computer non-biological mode, get any memories, if they’ve never had bodies, never had sensory experiences they can call their own? To me, bodies, sexual reproduction, and biological identity remain absolutes for meaning.

Kurzweil’s teleology leaves me baffled.

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