Warehouse K
Thinking Machines
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Kurzweil’s Futuristic Plan For Humanity

By James Donahue

Ray Kurzweil, the man who invented the computerized music synthesizer when he was a teenager, now is proposing a grand vision for transferring human brains into robot bodies capable of enduring extreme environments, traveling deep into space, and conducting self-repairs so they can perhaps exist indefinitely.

It is the kind of thing science fiction is made of. Many contemporary scientists scoff at Kurzweil’s ideas. Yet they also scoffed at Jules Verne’s wild ideas of building a machines that could carry men to the Moon and deep under the sea. Indeed, scientists are even now experimenting with “invisibility cloaks” and other amazing devices presented in the popular Star Trek books, television series and films.

Some have suggested that science fiction writers are in some way prophets of the future. We say that humans, who can create their own universe, only need the idea before they make it become reality. And if this is true, we should be taking Kurzweil’s ideas for “transhumanism” seriously.

His book, The Singularity Is Near, drafts a plan for reverse engineering the human brain and then moving it into an android replica of the human body that is designed to self-replicate its parts and endure extreme heat and cold, and exist through the rigors of Earth climate change and extended trips on space craft to distant stars.

Kurzweil, who works as a computer programmer, inventor and engineer, is proposing a computer program that will copy a person’s entire brain and then upload it into an improved body. His concept of singularity, as expressed in his book, is a state where both man and machine become blended into a single unit . . . eventually reaching a point where it is impossible to distinguish between the two.

As one writer expressed it: “At that point we all become a race of immortal software bits that move throughout the universe experiencing virtual oral sex for eons on end.” That statement was made in jest and the writer was ridiculing Kurzweil’s ideas. But what he wrote may not be far removed from where we really are headed . . . at least the part of becoming immortal bits of living memory moving freely throughout the universe. Some believe this may be exactly what happens to us after death when the spirit, or the soul that is “us” leaves the body.

The human body’s frailty, and its propensity for the cells that comprise the body to age, break down and eventually deteriorate into death, has been the stumbling block for man’s constant efforts to achieve immortality. Everybody dies and nothing, short of finding another body in which to move around in, appears able to stop the inevitable.

As the Earth moves into extreme climate change from overpopulation, the stripping of resources and reckless polluting caused by human activities, we now are faced with the real threat of mass extinction. Some scientists warn that if allowed to continue, the planet may eventually experience runaway global warming and become too hot for life to exist here at all. And then what?

Imagine moving our “spirits,” or those spiritual portions that comprise our awareness, memory and ability to think and create from these tired and decaying Earth born  bodies into super bodies capable of enduring extreme heat, taking our fuel from the sun or the stars and not having to feed on other living things, and living as long as we choose.

With bodies like that we could exist on Earth in spite of how hot or cold it becomes. Or we can travel on great ships deep into space, visiting other planets, and never worrying about having to carry food or oxygen to keep us alive, or living long enough to get to our destination.

Kurzweil’s ideas may never come to fruition, however. The danger of human extinction is very real. Consequently, we should be dealing with our climate change problems instead of doodling with all of the other issues occupying the minds of world leaders these days. We cannot depend on science to save us from ourselves