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652 pages, Paperback
First published September 22, 2005
Possibility 1: Kurzweil Is Nuts
Possibility 2: Kurzweil Is a Smart Mofo
Possibility 3: This Is a Sci[-fi] Novel
The year is 2060. I am 75 years old. My parents are dead, as will be many of those reading this right now. My nephews who are 5 and 6 years old right now will have become grown men, almost 50 years old themselves, maybe with kids of their own. At 75, I am extremely healthy. Not as spry as I am now, but like all those who can afford it, I undergo routine age extension treatments. The world government, which speaks English as the lingua franca, is constantly debating whether such age extension should be ‘nationalized’ but as yet it is not and the biomedical company that provides these treatments is the wealthiest company in the world and has a name as recognizable as that of Google.
Speaking of, Google has far transcended its early century roots as a mere search engine. It is a massive artificial general intelligence whose intelligence is well-documented to be quite beyond even the smartest unmodified human, who is on average 5 to 10 IQ points smarter than today’s human, given ubiquitous and routine pre-natal gene therapy techniques.
When I wake up in the morning, I say to Alexandra, my own personal household AI, more family than slave and also one of my best friends: “Alex, you there?”
“Yep,” she says. “Wondering what’s going on with the immortality debates?”
“You know me,” I reply.
She sighs dramatically. “Lord what fools these mortals be!”
I laugh in agreement. “Mmhmm. Show me.”
Alex turns on the debates – held in a virtual building of course – regarding the impending immortality treatment. The world is vastly more peaceful than it ever used to be. Superior medicine and therapy techniques have reduced the effect of mental illness, while increased prosperity and education have slowly eroded the last bastions of fundamentalism, crime, and irrationality. But of course, it is not all gone, as the vociferous debates demonstrate it. Immortality at our fingertips… and some still reject it.
"We are just now obtaining the tools sufficient to begin serious reverse engineering (decoding) of the human brain's principles of operation. We already have impressive models and simulations of a couple dozen of the brain's several hundred regions. Within two decades, we will have a detailed understanding of how all the regions of the human brain work.
We will have the requisite hardware to emulate human intelligence with supercomputers by the end of this decade and with personal-computer-size devices by the end of the following decade. We will have effective software models of human intelligence by the mid-2020s."
"In the aftermath of the Singularity, intelligence, derived from its biological origins in human brains and its technological origins in human ingenuity, will begin to saturate the matter and energy in its midst. It will achieve this by reorganizing matter and energy to provide an optimal level of computation... to spread out from its origin on Earth."
"If enough people predict something, it won't happen."