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Kurzweil's dystopia

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PostPosted: Thu Oct 13, 2005 4:29 pm    Post subject: Kurzweil's dystopia Reply with quote

This quote is taken from a letter in New Scientist 15-Oct-2005


Ray Kurzweil's vision of the future strikes me as very sad.
We will live forever, we will adopt new gadgets mere moments
after they are invented, and we will have nanotech solar panels
that are, well, really awesome.
You know what? I don't care. TV Cellphones, email, nanotech,
artificial intelligence, genetics engineering: are any of us made
any happier by all this? I think the opposite is true - we are increasingly
isolated, alienated and neurotic.
While we draw ever-closer to Kurweil's singularity, the horrors of the
world continue unabated, and Kurzweil seems to have next to nothing to say
about that. His vision of the future is devoid of humanity, even as he
insists that being human is defined by "going beyond our limitaitons".
The tragic point that escapes him is that our most important limitations,
the ones we really need to go beyond if we are ever to be happy, have nothing whatsoever to do with technology.
- Ben Haller, California

I'm familiar with Kurzweil's arguments. I share many of his views. I suspect he ignores our limitations and focuses on the direction he believes technology is taking us, taking for granted that through our collective will we will use these technologies for the greater good. We have a long road ahead of us. Problems caused by poverty and unfair distribution of wealth and resources can be overcome technologically and give us a greater sense of well being. Many of our advancements have brought us closer together. The internet reflects some of our best and worst aspects but overall the trend is positive. I think its important that we keep an eye on our current limitations of conscience or whatever you choose to call it and guide progress in a direction that will help move us beyond it.
Another thing the originator may not be aware of is that the transhumanist perspective (from whence Kurweil is trying to speak) involves transforming not just our environment but ourselves through the use of technology. In such a world we can imagine such things as empathy and telepathy enhancements and a breaking down of the barriers that separate our minds from each other should we so wish. These might arise an extension of communication technologies applied closer to brain and mind. For arguments sake, imagine a silly device that could read your mood biochemically and share that information with those you are conversing with (though whatever medium). Its just one step on from the facial expressions we use day to day.
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