Tag Archives: Kurzweil

The Age of Spiritual Machines: Part 9

2029: The human brain has been mapped. Computers can pass the Turing Test.

It will now be impossible to disengage the human-machine society.

Cyborgs: Computer implants have been made for the eyes and ears…implants help the mentally disabled and create super-geniuses.

Human Factor: The ethical, social implications are massive. What kind of people would allow testing on themselves? Will human psychology allow for people to mess with their bodies to that degree? How could we be certain that there are no side effects to the implants? How does this effect a person’s status in society? Some of the chosen affluent people will be able to remember details clearly while a sub-class poor natural humans will be subordinate. Kurzweil’s predictions would create a deeply divided hierarchical society of implant people and non-implant people. The consequences could be major violence. Why should certain people be allowed to have computer implants while the poor are not allowed to have those advantages? Do we want inequality between people to increase so greatly by allowing certain people to excel in their biology exam while others must rely on natural intelligence? Disabled people might be able to use neural implants, but should they reduce the advantages of their conditions? Ask yourself whether Stephen Hawking would have written A Brief History of Time if he had Kurzweil’s implants? World governments would likely ban most cyborg implants for ethical reasons similar to the ban on human cloning. This doesn’t mean that implants will not happen however.

The God Spot: a tiny locus of nerve cells in the frontal lobe that appears to be activated during religious experiences. Should we trigger that with an implant? Could someone use this technology to force massive religious mobilization? Where do we draw the line on implants? The temptation is clear but the consequences are dire. Should we allow, pleasure through technology at any cost? We must tread carefully.

Human to Computer Interfacing: Most communications occur between human and computer not human to human.

Human Factor: This is an absolute disaster from a societal standpoint. What is the point of living without friends and human beings? Why is playing World of Warcraft more valuable to human being than making real meaningful friends? Only a small percentage of people are computer nerds, this would be desirable to them alone. Why should the rest of society suffer because computer nerds don’t know how to ask a real girl out? This may further anti-social behaviour and centralize power in small groups of elite who could control the sedated masses.

Virtual World Cannot be Differentiated from Real World: Is escaping from reality going to continue down this path? Are our kids addicted to video games resulting in major psychological damage? Do they understand morality, spirituality? Good citizens need to make sure that the World of Warcraft does not become the only thing that really matters to most people. Escapism through drugs etc is self-destructive because it is selfish. Technology is extremely dangerous for human society for the same reason. This virtual world may limit human potential in the real world and enhance the virtual world to levels that detract from natural human development. There is too much of a good thing. Governments will likely tax the use of virtual reality. Governments will likely require addiction centers for video game users.

Telephones will translate into different language.

The skill ladder will require computers to do the thinking for humans.

Cyber Sex: people can have sex from long distances around the world.

Human Factor: The ramifications for the human species are massive. The traditional family might not be necessary if safe sex with complete strangers is possible with the click of a button. Why would anyone start a family? Having sex with multiple partners in a virtual environment might not be such a great idea. The consequences of actions in the virtual reality will be easily undone. Killing someone in virtual reality will not result in jail time. Virtual reality could be used to facilitate human desires that are unacceptable in the real world. This may further anti-social behaviour and centralize power in small groups of elite who could control the sedated masses.

The Age of Spiritual Machines: Part 8

2019: Ubiquitous Computers: Kurzweil believes that by 2019, computers will be imbedded in furniture, clothing etc basically everything. What would be the purpose: maintaining dryness? Tracking condition? Why would people willfully grade their furniture? Human Factor: need is not clear.

Virtual Reality: There will be internet interfaces in a virtual reality, so that family members can meet up in person virtually. This definitely has a need. Just this one idea will have a billion consequence for small business owners, government and society. You could teach English in a virtual classroom without ever having to go to South Korea.

Human Factor: there will always be people who want to experience South Korea even with comparatively high costs.

Computers interact with humans in a two-way speech.

Simulated People: Simulated persons are used by companies to interact with people primarily over other human beings.

Human Factor: labour unions lobby government to intervene. What will normal people be doing while computers have taken their jobs? Luddites are not crazy (they might be wrong but they aren’t crazy), they resist change because there are immediate negative consequences. How do we make the transition from being employeed to finding something else to do in a company?

End of Paper Books: Computers will make paper books obsolete.

Human Factor: What about traditionalists who like reading from a paper book. Downloaded books don’t have the same feel as an actual book. Not sure he’s right on that one. There will always be a large number of people who want to read books traditionally. Why assume that most people will read at all?

Robot Sex: People will have sexual relationships with automated personalities. These machines look exactly like human beings. But they cannot pass the Turing Test which is a test to see whether humans can deceipher the difference between robot and human in a controlled experiment.

Human Factor: Cultural norms would severely shun anyone having sex with a robot, in a similar way that they shun blow-up dolls. Even if the robot is convincing, one has to ask the ethical question of how that robot should be treated? How would marriage work? This might be extremely anti-social behaviour. Conservative governments would likely outlaw robot sex.

Privacy is a major social issue. This is definitely likely as it is occurring in 2008.

Everything is wireless.

Rotating Memories are obsolete.

Computers help paraplegics walk and climb stairs through a combination of computer controlled nerve stimulation and exoskeletal robotic devices.

Human Factor: Kurzweil basically doesn’t consider that most people in the world do not have a personal computer today. Most people live in abject poverty. Where does their fate fit into his predictive rubric? Will they all have computers in 2019?

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Why Kurzweil Is Wrong

Here are the TOP 10 reasons that Kurzweil might not have super accurate predictions about the future of the entire human species:

1) NO ONE CAN PREDICT THE FUTURE ACCURATELY. No human being can know with certainty what will happen in the future. Will water levels rise in 2012 or 2013 sparking new action on Climate Change? Maybe. Not sure eitherway. If someone could predict the future perfectly than they would be billionaires, and we would all want to be their best friend. In the 1960s, people thought every household would have a robot to clean their kitchens. Did that happen? Nope. I consider Kurzweil to be the “You Will Have A Robot In Your House, Guy” of the last decade. He has cool ideas which are fun to think about, BUT you know what also is fun to imagine?….Robots cleaning my kitchen…where my robots at? Oh right, the prediction in the 1960s was wrong. Why was it wrong? Because of the following core critique which I have laid down to blow a giant hole in Kurzweil’s predictions:

2) HUMAN BEINGS ARE UNPREDICTABLE: the Arab Spring and protests in Russia were not something political scientists or anybody predicted would happen in 2011. BUT they happened anyway. Why? It’s because human beings can sometimes have control over what they want in the world around them. Humans have something (that in social science is) called: AGENCY. They can decide to mobilize, and protest a regime. Not sure when they will protest but humans can make random irrational choices. People can decide whether they want a Segway or not. People can decide if they want an iPad. Every time Apple comes out with a product, they take a risk. With regard to Kurzweil, people can decide whether they want to be converted into a computer or not. Some people will want to live forever as a computer, while some people will try to stop them for moral reasons.

3) Politicians are more powerful than technology when it comes to human life: In 2004, George Bush said that stem-cell research was immoral so he made it illegal to conduct research on stem cells in the US. For this reason, stem cell research was dramatically halted in the US. In this case a politician said “We will not allow that to happen” and he blocked cancer research on stem cell research in the US for a long time to come. Another guy who had a cult called the Raelians said that he would be able to clone a human being. Fine, the technology is there to clone a human. It’s just too bad that cloning a human is illegal. Politicians have difficulty controlling the internet like in Eqypt, and China, but they are pretty good at smacking down biological research and development when it is morally questionable.

4) If it is possible, Kurzweil’s Singularity Will Likely Be Made Illegal: Assuming that he is right that computer development will follow his predictions to the letter, then some lawyers will come along and smack him and his idea of immortality down because of the legal implications, and the mess that immortality would bring. Why? Because immortality is not Christian, and immortality is probably only for the super rich. Organized religion will try to crush Kurzweil with an iron fist. Any technology that bi-passes human life cycles will be stopped from being legal. So the Pope, and other morally conscious politicians stopped a) Cloning, b) Stem-Cell Research, c) GENETIC MODIFICATION OF HUMAN BEINGS, making these activities all illegal. Legally speaking, transference to a computer would be an unpleasant, and desperate attempt to extend ones life in the first trial periods, many people would die in the transference tests. So, moving from human to computer might be made illegal I would think.

5) EXPONENTIAL GROWTH & MOORE’S LAW MIGHT BE SLOWING DOWN: Kurzweil’s leap of faith is the core problem, which is that Moore’s law “will never slow down from exponential growth.” Once we let computers build themselves, they will start to do cool things like control human beings, and enslaving human beings….Whatever, some people actually think Moore’s law is not going to continue at its current rate. I don’t know for sure, technology is developing fast. Great, we benefit from it most of the time.

6) KUZWEIL MADE A BUNCH OF PREDICTIONS THAT DIDN’T HAPPEN AND YET HE ALWAYS CLAIMS IN HIS BOOKS THAT EVERYTHING THAT HE PREDICTS WILL HAPPEN WITH FULL CONFIDENCE: Kurzweil’s predictions are just predictions, they might not happen. He is thinking in the right directions generally BUT many things he predicted did not happen. Read my blog posts. Kurzweil predicted many things that didn’t happen (see picture to the left). Why else would he create new editions to his books every 5 years? Because he needs to re-calibrate his predictions/and make more money! But yes, mapping the human brain will (probably) happen, and we will be able to program ourselves into that hard-drive BUT THAT LIFE WOULD BE ARTIFICIAL, AND IT MIGHT ACTUALLY SUCK LIVING FOREVER!

7) FUTURISM IS NOT REAL SCIENCE: Predicting the future is what all science fiction tries to do. So, it’s cool. I love science fiction, and yes, science fiction helps to shape what we might want in the future. For example, in an original Star Trek episode there is this typewriter that can understand human speech, and transcribes someone’s dictation. iPhone 4S does that today. So, yes science fiction inspires people. But, this example does not mean that everything in science fiction will happen. Example, Klingons are not real. Another example, George Orwell’s 1984 did not happen. Why would a Venture Capitalist like Kurzweil have all his predictions come true? There are thousands of Venture Capitalists that loose money every year! Kurzweil  makes predictions, these are not facts because 2045 has not happened yet. My blog posts explain why his ideas are cool but immoral, naïve, and dangerous with the outmost respect for his interesting book(s). It’s just a book, don’t believe everything you read!

8) YOUR FAITH IS MISGUIDED! There are a lot of ideas about the future out there. Kurzweil is wise for tapping into the Generation X market, and other aging computer geeks. These people are now more, and more aware of their own mortality so Kurzweil’s ideas are perfect for making some serious money by convincing people that they might be able to live forever, and exploring some cool questions, and ideas that have never been developed before. However, let’s see how Kurzweil is kind of operating a cult here: (1) How much money have you given Kurzweil in the last few years? If you bought two books for sure, and you have told about 100 people about this book, you would be a great little marketeer/prophet for Kurzweil’s publishing company. (2)Kurzweil has cultist tendencies because he attacks people who challenge his views. Kurzweil even says that people who want to curb the power of technology over human development are basically crazy Uni-bombers…..Guess who else associates detractors with criminals in this way; Scientologists! Think about the Catholic Church versus Dan Brown. “Dan Brown’s The DaVinci Code is a monstrous man, do not let his lies destroy our glorious religion.” These movements attack those who disagree with them because they know that their ideas rely on something beyond the purely logical. These movements, including Kurzweil’s, are about taking a leap of faith. Kurzweil asks his true believers to take a leap of faith. Just like when Jesus rose from the dead, science says that’s crazy. Or when AI get the legal rights of human beings, lawyers will say that is dangerous. Ever read Isaac Asimov’s I, Robot?

9) YOUR QUALITY OF LIFE: After these soul transfer proved successful, the problem would be the kind of life that one would lead as a computer. There are alot of What Ifs in Kurzweil’s predictions. What kind of quality of life are we talking about by the way if people are able to move towards being computers? What about people who cannot afford the transfer fees? It’s all very complicated, and interesting but moral people will try to stop this from happening….Of course, that is also a prediction. I cannot say for certain any of this will happen. What would happen if your soul was hacked? Why would computers continue to serve human interests at that point? You know, some basic questions Kurzweil under emphasizes.

10) TECHNOLOGY IS NOT ALWAYS PROGRESSIVE: You have to realise that technological progress has negative side-effects. Hiroshima anyone? Technology triggers moral consequences that need to be assessed. Just because we can clone Mozart, does not mean we should. Have you ever seen the South Korea kids who play World of Warcraft all day? It’s kind of sick. So with the above arguments which are pretty logical I think, I have challenged Kurzweil’s predictions, I like his ideas, I don’t think they will happen as he predicts though.

The Age of Spiritual Machines: Part 6

The central hypotheses of Kurzweil’s book:

• He believes that computers with human-like intelligence will be affordable to average people (presumably 1st World citizens) within the next 2 decades. This is possible thanks to the Law of Accelerating Returns.

• He believes that humanity and computers will become one unified entity at some point in the long-term evolution of humanity. This is called technological singularity, and it is not desirable for most people.

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The Age of Spiritual Machines: Part 10

[This is a criticism of Kurzweil’s The Age of Spiritual Machines] 2099: Kurzweil predicts a merger between human and mechanical technology.

Cybernetic implants allow humans to link with computers. We will not have a physical form but would exist in computer reality. Robot bodies are created at will.

A.I. Rights: Kurzweil believes that A.I. will demand rights in the future. Rights complicated by positive and negative liberalism…blab, blab, blab (to explain it would detract from the core concerns)….Rights issues need to be addressed by someone who knows what they are talking about, a political scientist perhaps might be useful here.

Firstly, why do people have rights? Rights emerge from increased mobilization of a disadvantaged group. For example: sexual orientation groups, ethnic groups, disabled people etc. These groups demand right in law and so turn to government law makers to make it possible. Note that all of the above groups happen to be human beings. Occasionally rights also emerge through movements that advocate for disadvantaged groups that can’t argue for their rights: animals. Unfortunately for animals, they may never be treated as equals. Why? We kill cows. Do we do so because they aren’t as smart as us? No, cows are not human beings. They cannot be treated as equals because they provide us with tools to advance our human goals (A.K.A Hamburgers meat). Computers are not human beings either. They will be perceived through their utility to achieve human objectives. Computers are inferior because they provide us with tools to advance our human goals (writing a blog, spaceships, cellphone, etc). Question: if a human accidently kills an A.I., should a human go to jail? If an A.I. kills a human, should they go to jail? Maybe….

Secondly, why do rights REALLY exist? Rights allow people to be establish equality between each other. Equality is the reason that rights exist. People want to be treated equally despite their differences. Equality is the key to understanding rights….. Why should we assume that Artificially Intelligent robots will demand rights in the first place? Yes, they are treated as an inferior disadvantaged group at some point but why would they want to be treated equally to humans? Assuming that AI develops self-awareness, self-consciousness, self-preservation by 2099 or whatever, they then will continue to increase intelligence beyond human beings according to LAR.

THEREFORE

In order to believe in AI Rights, we have to assume:

A) A.I. will want to be considered equals.

B) They will NOT want to be considered superior even though their exponential growth in intelligence will make them superior to human beings….inevitably (as Kurzweil predicts).

The Artificially Intelligent robots will demand equal rights only that last as long as they feel that they can be considered equal to human beings. Within the span of some short period, A.I. will begin to advance beyond humanity in everyway…so their rights will have served their purpose within years of establishing those rights. The truth is that A.I. will only demand rights in order to leverage that advantage towards a goal of doing human jobs better then them. Once A.I. acquire their own access to an energy source, they will be legally autonomous from human control. Outside of human control, A.I. can do whatever it desires. This possibly includes governing over their inferior human creators.

Human Factor: Citing the above theory, human governments will attempt to curb A.I. from advancing in order to prevent A.I. from taking over human governments and controlling the human race.

Self-identity is greatly confused or lost: Human beings without implants cannot communicate with A.I. machines.

Human Factor: They are ostracized because they cannot communicate on the same level as the superior implanted people so a clear hierarchy would form between different grades of human beings.

Nano Technology continues to evolve: It will provide solutions for health problems. It could also be used by terrorists. Nanotechnology if self-replicating could be very dangerous and tremendously useful indeed. Sky elevators to space are one great use. Utility Fog could build rooms, change into a kitchen as you wake up. Whatever you need the nanobots could do it. Basically, transformers! Robots in disguise. It is very imaginative. Again, we have to ask who gets access to this technology? What are some of the consequences? We will eat only nano technology that caters to our biological energy needs. Nano bots will give us amazing amounts of energy. A cure for cancer is simple as nanobot and human tissue become one and the same. Nano technology makes Kurzweil’s book worth reading on its own. The potential is massive.

Human Factor: The need will is clear.

The Singularity is Near: Kurzweil seems to believe that singularity (pure order) is something desired but human beings. It is inevitable according to LAR. Like the Borg from Star Trek, computers will assimilate all lifeforms into a collective….Resistance is futile….Sounds great?

Human Factor: Unfortunately, humans happen to love randomness and all the things that make life worth living. In addition, nothing is inevitable. Kurzweil’s computer-centric world would necessarily be extremely well ordered to allow the singularity. This would destroy everything that makes humanity fun and life worth living. Order is quite boring. A little chaos makes life fun. Most people would agree that surprises are both scary and fun. Most people would reject pure order. In addition, human beings happen to like being individuals. The singularity would not allow individual thought and experience. Kurzweil is a free-market capitalist. He believes that singularity, corporate conglomerates only produce positive outcomes. Corporate conglomerates in fact can partly encourage and partly discourage stiffle creativity, individuality…Stiffling creativity is wrong. The Singularity would stiffle all human creativity. The desires of Kurzweil conflict with 99% of humanity.

People no longer interact in person. Human interaction is no longer occurring.

Human Factor: a Berkley study wanted to see if they could create a network allowing all their employees to work at home instead of coming to work…Employees found that they wanted to interact with their co-workers. The only exceptions were the computer nerds.

Education is instantly downloaded. The question is what should we explore now?

Money has deflated in value.

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The Age of Spiritual Machines: Part 4

Attacking Luddites, Cautious Progressivism & The Frankenstein Factor

Kurzweil tries to portray the original luddites as a small crazed movement that was inevitably destroyed. Luddites were originally a movement against textile manufactures in 19th Century England. They didn’t like how manufacturing had led to increased child labour, starvation and mass migration. These are negative, albeit short-term consequences of technology. The problem is that Kurzweil only sees the benefits of technology and believes that these luddites just needed to get other jobs, even if many British peasants ended up in the poor house. Kurzweil implies that this doesn’t matter, technology and change are great at all costs. The atom bomb’s use on Hiroshima is part of that progress. It is important to note that the luddites are a manifestation of the Human Factor. They may have been wrong to destroy the new weaving machines but they represent a broader human response to new technology; that is why the Segway is not a victim a fringe group of luddites but the wider public. Kurzweil goes so far as to demonizes those who might criticize his complete faith in the virtue of computer technology. Kurzweil blatantly demeans those who might criticize his ideas by quoting the most famous luddite of the 20th century: Ted Kaczynski (the “Unabomber”). Kaczynski is a criminal. This is a cheap attempt to associated evil with resistance or even questioning the value of change.

An example of where Kurzweil demonstrates absolute faith in the value of technological advancement despite obvious evidence that there are negative consequences in his theory of economic growth. Kurzweil makes the false claim that technology is fueling the expansion of economic well-being. He is ascribing technological advancement as the source of growth, not the people using the technology, new expansion of resources, changing international prices, changing demand etc. America’s economic growth has been below .5% for the past few years. Should we blame technology for the slow down and then claim technology is responsible when there is major growth? Kurzweil is not academic enough for my liking. Also, most economists point to the 1896 world depression as being caused by increased communication through telephone wires. Product sales increased in 1896 but products could not be delivered at the fast rate of demand causing an economic depression. Technology may trigger some depressions, technology may appears to trigger economic growth. Technology is part of the story not the whole story: something a computer scientist might have trouble believing. Kurzweil even hilariously attributes the fall of communism to technology! (172, AoSM) These claims are dubious.

A more balanced approach should be given to technology then the one that Kurzweil ascribes. This is called the cautious progressivists. They are not luddites. They are just more cautious than Kurzweil and they don’t believe in inevitability. Nothing is inevitable. They take into account the Human Factor and have learned from history that technology is not something to advance for its own sake alone. Everyone knows Frankenstein but few people understand the point of Shelley’s novel. Frankenstein is a harsh warning about the dangers of exploratory science on morality, human wellbeing…you know the people that technology should serve. Humanity is not impervious to disasters that are brought on accidentally by our own faith in technology: Chernobyl, the Titanic, Hiroshima, and yeah…even Jurassic Park. Kurzweil should re-read Frankenstein. This isn’t to say that technology is pure evil, it allows us to share ideas on a blog etc. Some great ideas may not actually benefit humanity in whole or in part, we should know that science is a powerful thing that must be handled with absolute care.

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The Age of Spiritual Machines: Part 3

The Human Factor

I believe the human factor makes Kurzweil’s predictions unlikely to be true. No future can be predicted accurately, that is extremely foolish. The Human Factor is the term used in this article to describe that unpredictable humans nature which is capable of  changing their political views. Kurzweil’s focus on computer science has limited his ability to take into account other major factors in the development of computer technology in all society, like wars for example.. That is, human behaviour dictates whether a certain innovation is viable. If there is no need or market demand and yet a technology is available, that technology will not be viable on moral grounds, and policy grounds. The differences in human behaviour make certain technology such as the internet more present in the United States than in China. The human factor explains why the Japanese produce and play better computer games than the Germans or French who have different cultural behaviours. If Kurzweil addressed this problem seriously, he would have a much more credible book albeit he would have to admit that his book is mostly pretty much bullshit.

To illustrate the importance of the Human Factors, we can turn to the classic Segway case. The Segway was supposed to change the way people commuted in urban centres. Walking would no longer be the primary form of transportation. The Segway was imaginative and bold. In the excitement of computer and motorized advances, the scientists failed to take into account that health consciousness was an emerging cultural phenomenon. The Segway never gained the popularity that was anticipated because of the ‘attachment anxiety’ humans have for….walking! The problem with regard to technology becoming viable is that the culture, psychological, socioeconomic (all under the umbrella of Human Factors) may resist some technological advances. Like the computer nerds behind Segway, Kurzweil fails to seriously address why most of his imaginative predictions would be desirable to 95% of the people (those who aren’t already obsessed about technological possibilities like living forever).

Other examples of the Human Factors influencing technological predictions include: more paper being used because of computers, VHS defeating superior BETA technology, robots in every household by 1980, Martian colonies by 2010, laser-guns, flying cars etc.

Successfully predicting the Human Factor would mean complete order in the future. If we could map out all human beings, it is likely that most people would intentionally randomize their behaviour further rejecting a technology that pre-determines their entire existence. Complete computer mapping of all human behaviour would likely result in the end of creativity which is a product of chaos/randomness. Not being predictable is what makes life worth living. Fortunately, human behaviour is difficult to predict if not because of the complexity of the Human Factors but because humans change over time. Change is what academics always complain about. Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World highlights the dehumanizing aspects of scientific progress. The Human Factor stands to gain from remaining….human. How do we define a person? What is sacred? Should anything be sacred about our lives? What do we want to keep about human behaviour? Is there any traditions that will be valid in the 2100? Should we protect these traditions? Why do humans reject change? Academics do in fact make predictions, they will suggest certain possibilities and think about their result but they never claim that anything they do is certain because of the Human Factor. If someone could completely predict all human factors’ influence on technology they would be the most powerful person on earth. Bill Gates is one of the most powerful men on earth, not surprisingly, he has a keen sense of human behaviour. His ability to guess accurately the Human Factor explains his successful work with Microsoft. The formula below explains the Human Factor:

Human behaviour = Unpredictability.

Most people who do not have a degree in computer science will ask; Is technology always a positive thing, like for example nuclear weapons? The question isn’t Can we do something but should we do that something?…This is a manifestation of the Human Factors.

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The Age of Spiritual Machines: Part 2

Defining Kurzweil’s Work: Academic Analysis for a Non-Academic Work

The book The Age of Spiritual Machines explores the future of human/artificial intelligence using a classic exercise in “what ifs.” This is called speculative science and futurology. Because this is predictive, in the same way that a fortune teller is predictive, it is not a peer-reviewed academic book. Academics can and will easily criticize his work because the book is speculative. His predictions are lacking empirical evidence, given that nothing can be assumed to be constant in the future and we cannot measure events that have not taken place. If you have no empirical evidence in the future, you will need to use the past for your assumptions. He does this but comes up with wildly speculative ideas of how the future will word.

Academia requires empirical facts that can be strongly supported using the scientific method. In science, political, chemical, biological etc, academics do not “prove” anything is “true” but show that their findings are strongly supported by evidence. Unfortunately, the future has not occurred yet. Therefore it is futile to claim that Kurzweil’s predictions are strongly supportable or not supportable because there is no empirical evidence from the year 2019 for either argument.

Why Kurzweil is still valuable if it is not academic and might not even occur as predicted? To use a classic example, in Orwell’s dystopia 1984, he predicted London would be Landing Strip 1. This did not happen thankfully but that novel has contributed to a thought provoking assessment of political science, government, cultural and scientific thinking. Non-academic thinkers may choose to believe that Kurzweil’s predictions are highly probable. They are free to make that imaginative leap. They are also free to believe that in 24th Century, people will wear pants on their heads be it will be fasionable. It would be wrong however for someone claiming to be an academic to accept his predictions as factual or non-factual, they are speculative, period. Even if Kurzweil’s theories are likely or unlikely to occur as he predicts they are deeply thought-provoking and worthy of analysis none the less.

If it is futile to treat The Age of Spiritual Machines as an academic work, it is because academia is not Kurzweil’s audience. He is trying to stimulate the imagination with creative ideas. It is our goal to use academic analysis to better assess those ideas. Academia reduces the fun factor for non-academic minds but thinking logically, and critically will provide objective analysis that might be useful to better understand the questions proposed by this book: its implications and its flaws. Academics are inherently negative/critical/analytical (all the same result) because their goal is to target the weaknesses in an argument and dissect it. They should be free to criticize:

  • • His ethical views.
  • • His failure to seriously address the Human Factor (see below). His failure to address important questions that we might have about what he normative desires for the future versus what other people desire for the future.
  • • His theory of the good life versus other theory of the good life.
  • • His methodology wherever it is dubious
  • • His predictive skills in the past.
  • • His criticism of cautious progressivism.
  • • His faith in computers to provide only positive outcomes.
  • • His ignorance of the negative outcomes of technology.

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