February 24, 2013

In the first half, George Knapp welcomed futurist¬†Ray Kurzweil¬†for a discussion on the merging of man and machine as well as his research into reverse engineering the human brain to understand precisely how it works. According to Kurzweil’s estimate, the brain consists of 300 million “pattern recognizers” which assign these trends into hierarchies.

This hierarchy ranges from simple patterns like shapes and sounds, at the low end, to more abstract concepts like irony, humor, and beauty, at the top. Driving the creation of this hierarchy, he said, are our own thoughts as we “create one conceptual level at a time.” By understanding how this process works, Kurzweil said, he now plans on designing computers which will utilize the same methodology.

Kurzweil observed that the envelopment of humanity by technology is not a fearful new development and contended that it is merely part of larger evolution of the species to “transcend the limitations of biology.” To that end, he dismissed concerns about the eventual augmentation of the body with technological devices and suggested that “very, very few people will opt out” when the opportunity becomes available.

Additionally, he surmised that, much like there are a myriad of apps available for cell phones, there will be “millions of choices” for people to fuse technology with their body. Similarly, Kurzweil pointed to the ubiquity of cell phones as a sign that technologically augmenting the body will not be solely the domain of the wealthy. Ultimately, he stressed that machines are the creations of humans and, thus, are already “part of who we are.”

Listen to the show here.

Date: 02-24-13
Host: George Knapp
Guests: Ray Kurzweil