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Raymond Kurzweil and a Vision of Living Forever

Should we wish to live forever? Doing so may not be just to those who follow us in life.

| October/November 2012

  • Shetterly Illustration
    As with all of nature, our death can mean life for other creatures.
    Illustration By Robert Shetterly

  • Shetterly Illustration

Picture a small boat alone, out on the ocean. The sky is a light arctic blue. The water is the deep gray of the cold northern sea. I’m in the boat, thinking of my family, my friends, the places I’ve gone and the things I’ve seen. I’m thinking about God and eternity. I’m thinking of people, animals and places I’ve loved. I’m thinking about the hungry king crab, opilio crab and halibut below me. And I’m considering the end of my life.

But I’m getting a little ahead of myself. Before I discuss my fate, I want to talk about Raymond Kurzweil and his vision for our future.

Kurzweil is a brilliant person, one of the great visionaries of our time. He’s a groundbreaking inventor, an advocate for the disabled, a best-selling author and a millionaire entrepreneur.

Ever since he was a teenager, Ray Kurzweil has been popularly acknowledged as a genius. He was a 20-year-old college sophomore when he sold his first technology company. Then he invented the first computer program that could read typed manuscripts; the first computer that read out loud (the Kurzweil Reading Machine); and the first high-quality computerized musical instrument, the Kurzweil K250. Professional musicians listening blindfolded to a Kurzweil K250 could not distinguish it from a conventional grand piano.

Kurzweil’s books are as compelling as his other inventions. He wrote The Age of Intelligent Machines (1990) and The Age of Spiritual Machines (1999). His 700-page tome, The Singularity Is Near: When Humans Transcend Biology (2005), persuasively describes a time in our near future when computers will be smart enough to improve themselves. Then, he says, we will experience previously unimaginable rates of technological change, including advances in medical technology that will make us much healthier, much smarter and could even allow us to, effectively, live forever.


Walter Jeffries
11/8/2012 10:15:24 PM

Wow. Talk about unimaginative. Welch is welcome to dive in to the sea and be crab food. Others see solutions to the problems he present which are opportunities. Too bad Welch disses the visionaries by falling into his own black hole of pithos.

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