He’s been called “the restless genius” by the Wall Street Journal and “the ultimate thinking machine” by Forbes. PBS included him on an elite list of 16 “revolutionaries who made America,” a list meant to span the whole of U.S. history.
Bill Gates described him as “the best person I know at predicting the future of artificial intelligence,” and Gates is hardly the only tech mogul paying Kurzweil their attention.
Bill Joy, the co-founder of Sun Microsystems, shares Gates’ interest, beginning his widely read 2000 article in Wired magazine with the following:
From the moment I became involved in the creation of new technologies, their ethical dimensions have concerned me, but it was only in the autumn of 1998 that I became anxiously aware of how great are the dangers facing us in the 21st century. I can date the onset of my unease to the day I met Ray Kurzweil, the deservedly famous inventor of the first reading machine for the blind and many other amazing things.
As Joy points out, Kurzweil’s unique perspective comes with great authority- authority established by his prolific career as an inventor.
He was given the 1999 National Medal of Technology by President Clinton, one of three U.S. Presidents from whom he’s received awards.
Time Magazine wrote that his “eclectic career and propensity for combining science with practical- often humanitarian- applications have inspired comparisons to Thomas Edison.
The Singularity Is Near
So, no… Ray Kurzweil is not a crazy person.
And yet, many would love to believe that he was. In fact, many do believe this, and have even stated so publicly on many an occasion.
So why would anyone make such a claim? What would cause someone to pronounce so bold an assertion?
Because Kurzweil has made a few bold assertions of his own.
What’s more, he seems to truly believe them.
You see, Ray Kurzweil has altered his entire lifestyle around the idea that humanity is nearing an unfathomably significant point in history. The date, which he believes to be somewhere around the year 2045, is often referred to as the Singularity.
Kurzweil follows a strict and somewhat unusual diet. He frequently exercises both his body and his mind. He does this because he considers it necessary in order to succeed in what’s become his own personal mission.
What mission is that?
It’s a simple one, really. Ray Kurzweil’s mission is to “live long enough to live forever”.
This week’s topic (also known as the Weekly Curiosity) is transhumanism. Check back each weekday at 12:34pm for a new post exploring this idea. In the meantime, here are three ways you can join the quest: