What’s up with Ray Kurzweil?
The boy genius who was on What’s My Line? at age 13 (he’d invented the first player-piano software program) and made his first million bucks before he was 21 (by computer matching high school kids with prospective colleges) is on a new kick lately: the pursuit of immortality through the human assimilation of machine intelligence.
That’s right. It’s basically the plot of virtually every Philip K. Dick short story turned into a Hollywood movie and has already been hinted at on TV shows from Star Trek to Futurama. For such a smart guy, can it be possible that he’s really buying the hype?
In fact, the 61 year old Kurzweil is such a believer, he’s on a daily regimen that includes low-impact aerobics, ingesting ONE HUNDRED AND FIFTY vitamin supplements and drinking 10 cups of Green Tea and 10 glasses of some kind of alkaline-based water. Needless to say, the widely traveled multi-millionaire inventor and scientist can never be far from a toilet.
So what’s this all about?
At the age of 35 Kurzweil was diagnosed with diabetes and the malady started him thinking about his own mortality. Being a brilliant, forward thinking inventor (he’d already created the first really good electronic piano and the Optical Character Reader) the thoughts inevitably lead him down the path of what the future will hold. What prevents us all from sharing a bright future, forever? Well… Death.
But do we really have to die? Ray Kurzweil doesn’t think so. In his latest book “The Singularity Is Near” Kurzweil postulates that we are poised on the brink of a new reality: immortality by way of a mind meld with Artificial Intelligence. In the not too distant future (sometime in the 2030s) our technology will catch up with our bodies and give us all the opportunity for our brains to outlive our physiology. Theoretically, infinitely.
Sounds good. In theory. According to my really bad math, Kurzweil will be in his 90s by then. Can anybody drink that much Green Tea? Actually Kurzweil is hedging on the bet that by pushing the envelope of intellectual collaboration we may achieve this symbiosis much sooner. That’s why his book has been made into a movie, “Transcendent Man.”
The documentary, by husband and wife film makers Barry and Felicia Ptolemy, follows Kurzweil around the globe as he spreads his futuristic mantra among influential thinkers, tinkerers and creative types who may help him kick start the process with a mad dash to the Finish Line.
Who’s buying in? How about Colin Powell, Stevie Wonder and William Shatner? Well, that last one’s a given. Shatner probably will live forever anyway. But can these really smart, talented people seriously be contemplating the possibility that our brains may ferment endlessly in a jar? Well, what have they got to lose? They already have fabulous lives, so eternal celebrity can only be a good thing for them, right?
For his part Kurzweil is also going the Walt Disney route by planning to store his dead body (in the likely event that 150 pills a day will kill him prematurely) in one of those cadaver freezing companies that pretend there’s nothing wrong with keeping you in a sub-zero rental unit until your wallet runs dry. How long does like, 10 million bucks last anyway?
For the rest of us we can only hope… and wait. Maybe Kurzweil is on to something and this will all pay off in our own lifetimes. But what does that really mean?
One of the most satisfying feelings in life is the death of a rotten bastard we can’t stand the sight of anymore. Everyone gets an appointment with Death and it’s worked for like, thousands of years. This is one Alpha Male who doesn’t want to overstay his welcome. If this all comes true, then that mean Bankers, evil Landlords and Dave Navarro will be able to crush our souls, turn off our heat on a whim and subject us to horrendous guitar riffs ad infinitum. It’s actually a horror to contemplate.
So I say, stuff your pills, your Green Tea and your alkaline water up your ass. I don’t want to live forever in a jar of formaldehyde. Let me live out my days with relative happiness until a creaky, bedridden demise snuffs out my endless future. It’s my God given, American right.
Besides, I’m really looking forward to stiffing my Cable Company out of that last bill. $12.95 for HBO? Screw you guys! I don’t care if you did bundle it with Showtime for a 90 day promotional period. See if you can suck it out of my bastard of a roommate… he’s in that third jar on the left.