Ray Kurzweil—futurist, inventor, entrepreneur, bestselling author, and now, director of engineering at Google— wants to live forever. He spoke to a magazine in Canada about it.
Ray sees biology as software
Biology is a software process. Our bodies are made up of trillions of cells, each governed by this process. You and I are walking around with outdated software running in our bodies, which evolved in a very different era. We each have a fat insulin receptor gene that says, “Hold on to every calorie.” That was a very good idea 10,000 years ago, when you worked all day to get a few calories; there were no refrigerators, so you stored them in your fat cells. I would like to tell my fat insulin receptor gene, “You don’t need to do that anymore,” and indeed that was done at the Joslin Diabetes Center. They turned off this gene, and the [lab mice] ate ravenously and remained slim. They didn’t get diabetes; they didn’t get heart disease. They lived 20 per cent longer. They’re working with a drug company to bring that to market.
Ray sees blood cell size supercomputers in 25 years
Life expectancy was 20 a thousand years ago; 37, 200 years ago. We’re now able to reprogram health and medicine as software, and that [pace is] going to continue to accelerate. We’re treating biology, and by extension health and medicine, as an information technology. Our intuition about how progress will unfold is linear, but information technology progresses exponentially, not linearly. My Android phone is literally several billion times more powerful, per dollar, than the computer I used when I was a student. And it’s also 100,000 times smaller. We’ll do both of those things again in 25 years. It’ll be a billion times more powerful, and will be the size of a blood cell.
Extending life will be a constant effort
I can never say, “I’ve done it, I’ve lived forever,” because it’s never forever. We’re really talking about being on a path that will get us to the next point.
Bridge one. Stay as healthy as possible with diet and exercise and current medicine
The goal is to get to bridge two
Bridge two: the biotechnology revolution, where we can reprogram biology away from disease. And that is not the end-all either.
Bridge three is to go beyond biology, to the nanotechnology revolution. At that point, we can have little robots, sometimes called nanobots, that augment your immune system. We can create an immune system that recognizes all disease, and if a new disease emerged, it could be reprogrammed to deal with new pathogens.
You had to be rich to have a mobile phone 20 years ago. And it was the size and weight of a brick, and it didn’t work very well. Today there are seven billion cellphones, there’s over one billion smartphones, and there will be six or seven billion smartphones in a few years. Today you can buy an Android phone or iPhone that’s twice as good as the one two years ago, for half the price. It is only the rich that can afford [these technologies] at an early point, when they don’t work. By the time they work a little bit, they’re affordable; by the time they work really well, they’re almost free. And that will be true of these health technologies. We can see that already. Look at AIDS drugs—20 years ago, they were $30,000 per patient per year. Today they’re [more] effective, and they’re $80 per patient per year.
What is the AI work that Ray is doing at Google ?
Ray wants to go beyond IBM Watson. Not just reading the meaning of 200 million pages of Wikipedia but going through tens of billions of pages of the internet and getting the meaning out of it. They will be able to handle semantically richer questions and search queries
Singularity still about 2045
With a team of three or four people, I can do in a matter of weeks what used to take hundreds of people years to do. We are smarter already. The biological intelligence we have still dominates the intelligence of our civilization, but the non-biological portion is expanding exponentially. It gets back to my law of accelerating returns. If you do the math, by 2045, we’ll have expanded the collective intelligence of our human-machine civilization a billionfold. And that’s such a profound transformation that we borrow this metaphor from physics, and call it a singularity.
SOURCE – Macleans
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Brian Wang is a Futurist Thought Leader and a popular Science blogger with 1 million readers per month. His blog Nextbigfuture.com is ranked #1 Science News Blog. It covers many disruptive technology and trends including Space, Robotics, Artificial Intelligence, Medicine, Anti-aging Biotechnology, and Nanotechnology.
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