Transcendent Man - Ray Kurzweil’s Secret for Eternal Life
Nanobots. Lots of them. Floating through our blood streams, snapping at our synapses and repairing our bodies from within. Infused with advanced AI and launched off our planet, they will eventually explore and proliferate what’s evolved of humanity into the vastness of space.
Does this excite or frighten you?
Author, inventor and futurist Ray Kurzweil's ideas surely should do both. And in the new documentary Transcendent Man, his life and ideas are put on display, from Singularity — the point when technology and AI become so advanced our lives are fundamentally altered (no, this doesn’t include Twitter) — to his family life.
I had a chance to meet their public relations coordinator, Celia Black, at the latest Swagapalooza in San Francisco. She shared a screener copy of the documentary and offered an invitation to the premier of Transcendent Man at the Palace of Fine Arts in San Francisco.
Deluxis is a company of storytellers, so we’ll focus on the elements making Kurzweil’s story so compelling.
Born from a modest family of artists, Ray Kurzweil gravitated quickly to technology. While they faced financial problems and family health issues, his parents supported his inventive ideas with their limited resources. This is not an uncommon theme for any great story — the rise from humble origins into a position of power or enlightenment (both Jesus and Luke Skywalker did it). It’s what Joseph Campbell, whom I mentioned in the previous post as well, described as the Monomyth, a basic pattern found in all the great stories of the world.
For Kurzweil, his quest centers on a purpose universally relatable: a cure for mortality and, one day, the resurrection of his deceased father whom he desperately misses. Will humanity achieve this goal in our lifetime? He predicts that machines will pass the Turing Test in 2029 and that life-extending nanobots would be in use before 2050. Until then, he maintains a basement full of his father’s memories and happily takes 200 supplements a day.
From this alone, all seems distraught. But his story is really one of hope. His inventions, ranging from a reader for the blind to musical synthesizers, have surely helped many. His thoughts, though criticized, offer much to think about. He’s been described as a “techno-prophet” and has even been called the next successor to Thomas Edison.
All this from a kid from Queens.
His story is amazing and serves as a first chapter to the technological age of humanity (which, as the film describes, is actually quite young). Ultimately, the question isn’t so much where we go, but rather how we deal with what we find when we get there.