Inventor Ray Kurzweil sees immortality in our future

Brief but Spectacular special series
March 25, 2016

video | Futurist Ray Kurzweil on improving & extending human life forever
Watch the interview from PBS News Hour special series Brief but Spectacular.

PBS | What if we could overcome disease and aging to extend our lives indefinitely? Inventor, author and futurist Ray Kurzweil says that’s a reality that’s coming soon. He sees living forever in our future. Kurzweil reflects on the exponential growth of technology and the promise of human immortality.

Part of the PBS* News Hour special series Brief but Spectacular.

related reading:
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full transcript | Inventor Ray Kurzweil sees immortality in our lifetime
With PBS News Hour host Judy Woodruff.

Judy Woodruff: And now to another in our Brief but Spectacular series.

Tonight, we hear from inventor and futurist Ray Kurzweil about immortality and the exponential growth of technology. Since 2012, Kurzweil has been a director of engineering at Google.

Ray Kurzweil: Our immediate reaction to death is that it’s a tragedy. And that’s really the correct reaction. We have rationalized it, saying, oh, that tragic thing that’s looming, that’s actually a good thing. But now we can actually seriously talk about a scenario where we will be able to extend our longevity indefinitely.

I decided to become an inventor when I was 5. I would bring back broken bicycles, radios. This was an era where you would allow a 5 year old to roam the neighborhood and do this. And I had this idea, if I could just figure out how to put all these things together, I could solve any problem.

Ray Kurzweil: I wrote a program that could recognize the patterns in melodies from famous composers and write original music. So I went on this show I’ve Got a Secret hosted by Steve Allen. And my secret was, I had built and programmed a computer that composed music. I created a program that could recognize printed letters in any type and created a reading machine for the blind.

Probably, the most important theme I have talked about is the exponential growth of information technology. Price, performance, and capacity of information technology progresses predictably and exponentially. It doubles every period of time. So this little computer is actually billions of times more powerful per dollar than the computer I used when I was an undergraduate.

We will do that again in the next 25 years. And we will have computers the size of blood cells, little robotic devices that can go through our bloodstream, its capability thousands or millions-fold by connecting to the cloud. That’s a 2030s scenario.

We have been expanding our life expectancy for thousands of years. It was 19 1,000 years ago, 37 in 1800. We’re going to get to a point 10, 15 years from now where we’re adding more time than is going by to our remaining life expectancy.

People say, oh, I don’t want to live past 90. But you know, I talk to 90 year olds, and they definitely want to live to 91 and to 100. People sometimes say that death gives meaning to life because it makes time short, but actually death is a great robber of meaning, of relationships, of knowledge.

We’re going to be able to overcome disease and aging. Most of our thinking will be nonbiological. That will be backed up, so part of it gets wipes away, you can recreate it. And we will be able to extend our lives indefinitely. I would rather use that word than forever.

My name is Ray Kurzweil, and this is my Brief but Spectacular take on our exponential future.

Judy Woodruff: And you can watch more Brief but Spectacular episodes on our website.

books | by Ray Kurzweil & Terry Grossman, MD on longevity

Ray Kurzweil has authored 2 best selling books on high tech medicine and the breakthroughs in science heralding a future of health and even immortality, co-authored with visionary practitioner Terry Grossman, MD.

1. book | Fantastic Voyage: live long enough to live forever

about | Immortality is within our grasp. In Fantastic Voyage, futurist Ray Kurzweil teams up with life extension expert Terry Grossman, MD, to consider the benefits to human health and longevity promised by leading edge medicine — and how you can take advantage of startling advances. Citing extensive research that sound as radical as the most speculative science fiction, Kurzweil and Grossman offer a program designed to slow aging and disease processes to such a degree that you should be in good health and good spirits when more extreme life extending, life enhancing technologies in development, become available. This bridge to the future will enable us to make the journey from this century to the next.

2. book | Transcend: 9 steps to living well forever

about | This groundbreaking book by Ray Kurzweil and Terry Grossman, MD marshals thousands of scientific studies to make the case that new developments in medicine and tech will allow us to radically extend our life expectancies and slow down the aging process. Soon, our notion of what it means to be a 55 year old will be as outdated as an 8 track tape player.

Transcend presents a practical, enjoyable program so that readers can live long enough — and remain healthy long enough — to take full advantage of the biotech and nanotech advances that have already begun and will be occurring at an accelerating pace during the years ahead. This easy-to-follow program will help readers transcend boundaries of our genetic legacy and live long enough to live forever.

To help readers remember the 9 key components of the program, Kurzweil and Grossman have arranged them into a mnumonic.

Talk with your doctor
Calorie reduction
New technologies

* PBS is Public Broadcasting Service