Ray Kurzweil, a former Google engineer – who has an 86 pc success rate out of his 147 predictions – has created a sensation by his assertion that advances in technology will quickly lead to age-reversing ‘nanobots’ and humans will achieve immortality by 2030, writes Bharat Hiteshi
In Hindu mythology, whenever an asura asks for immortality, Brahma tells them that they can have whatever they wish except that. The clever asura then asks for a boon that will render him immortal for all practical purposes. But, embedded in the boon is a loophole, a vulnerability that the devas take advantage of, to kill him. Thus, we are reminded that no one is immortal in the world.
However, Ray Kurzweil, a former Google engineer – who has an 86 percent success rate out of his 147 predictions – has created a sensation by his assertion that advances in technology will quickly lead to age-reversing ‘nanobots’ and humans will achieve immortality in next eight years or by 2030. To add to the prediction, a prominent futurist Dr Ian Pearson has predicted that human intelligence, memory or senses could be connected to external technology.
Credentials of the two are so plausible that it is difficult to raise a needle of suspicion, while Ray Kurzweil is the same computer scientist and former Google engineer who in 1999 received the National Medal of Technology, Dr Ian Pearson’s inventions include text messaging and active contact lens.
The idea of uploading your mind to a computer has been theorised for many years now, but it has mostly remained the stuff of science fiction. Nectome, a US-based start-up, is trying to change that by devising a way to preserve the human brain so that its memories can be uploaded to the cloud. The firm has figured out a way to preserve the human brain in microscopic detail using a ‘high-tech embalming process,’ according to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT} Technology Review.
Compiling the observations in UK’s MailOnline on April 8, 2023, Fiona Jackson wrote “Could you live forever? Experts claim humans could achieve immortality by 2030 and one futurist even says we shall be able to attend our own funerals in a new body by reanimating the brain and uploading our minds to the cloud”. However, in order for the technology to work, participants have to be willing to be euthanized. However, the prestigious institution claimed the technology is in its infancy and there is no guarantee that they can recreate consciousness.
The prominent futurist Dr Ian Pearson had predicted that human intelligence, memory or senses could be connected to external technology. Dr Ian Pearson runs Futurizon, a futures institute. He claims 85% proven accuracy when looking 10–15 years ahead. His inventions include text messaging and active contact lens. He is a Maths and Physics graduate, a Doctor of Science, and has worked in numerous branches of engineering, from aeronautics and weapons design to cybernetics, sustainable transport to electronic cosmetics.
Rather than creating a backed up copy of your mind, most of your intelligence would simply be running from a place outside of your physical brain. In a blog post, he wrote: ‘One day, your body dies and with it your brain stops.’ ‘But no big problem, because 99 per cent of your mind is still fine, running happily on IT, in the clouds. ‘Assuming you saved enough and prepared well, you connect to an android to use as your body from now on, attend your funeral, and then carry on as before, still you, just with a younger, highly upgraded body.’
In the past, Ray Kurzweil ‘s predictions have become accurate, inspiring a cult following among other future-thinkers. While many of his predictions have come true, a claim made by Kurzweil in his 2005 book ‘The Singularity Is Near’ has resurfaced online after YouTube channel Adagio shared a two-part clip, sharing insights from the book. The comments made by Kurzweil has kickstarted a debate on social media on immortality and if at all, humans will achieve it.
In his book, the scientist predicted that technology will allow humans to enjoy an everlasting life by 2030. He also talked about genetics, nanotechnology, robotics and more. “2029 is the consistent date I have predicted for when an AI will pass a valid Turing test and therefore achieve human levels of intelligence. I have set the date 2045 for the ‘Singularity’ which is when we will multiply our effective intelligence a billion fold by merging with the intelligence we have created,” Kurzweil had told Futurism in 2017, as quoted by New York Post.
Kurzweil talked about nanotechnology and robotics which he believes will give birth to age-reversing ‘nanobots’. As per former Google engineer, these tiny robots will constantly keep fixing damaged cells and tissues that start to deteriorate as we age, making us immune to lethal diseases.
Past predictions coming true
This isn’t the first time that this scientist has made a prediction. In 1990, Kurzweil had predicted that the world’s best chess player would lose to a computer by 2000. The prediction came true in 1997 when Deep Blue beat Gary Kasparov.
Later in 1999, he made another prediction stating that by 2023, a laptop worth $1,000 would have storage capacity and capabilities of a human brain. Kurzweil, an author who calls himself a futurist, had also predicted that by 2010, most of the world would have access to high-bandwidth wireless internet.
“By 2029, computers will have human-level intelligence,” Kurzweil had said in an interview with SXSW. Coming back to 2023, Silicon Valley is witnessing a tough battle between top tech giants as they race towards artificial intelligence and how it can be incorporated in everyday life.
Is AI smarter than humans?
In layman’s terms, singularity is a hypothetical future point in time when all the advances in technology, particularly in artificial intelligence (AI), lead to the rise of machines that are smarter than humans. Kurzweil isn’t the only man who has talked about singularity. Softbank CEO Masayoshi Son in the past has also predicted the dawn of super-intelligent machines by 2047.
“Thirty years from now, they (cyborgs) are going to learn by themselves, they are maybe going to laugh at you and us,” the tech mogul Son had said at the Future Investment Initiative in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia in 2017. Softbank Robotics already has Pepper, a semi-humanoid robot which is designed with the ability to read emotions. It was introduced in June 2014 at a conference and was later showcased in SoftBank Mobile Phone stores in Japan.
It’s just been a few months in 2023 and we have already seen big techs such as Google and Microsoft introduce their respective AI-powered chatbots, which has also resulted in fear about the future and an alarming question: Is humankind really ready for AI?