Ray Kurzweil on Bringing Back the Dead

July 12, 2012

(Credit: PBS)

We round out “Ray Kurzweil Online” with the third and final installment of our miniseries. Thursday’s outtake with Mr. Immortality:

Does Kurzweil believe that an avatar of his dead father — created with artificial intelligence and a lifetime’s worth of data and mementos — is, well, his actual father, the guy who died when Ray was 22? This is a step beyond Kurzweil’s stated objective — to stave off death ad infinitum.

This is bringing the dead back to life. But what form of life? What if a stranger administers the Turing Test and can’t tell if the avatar is human or pure software? Does that make the avatar a person? Would it in any sense be conscious? Would it be a man, a machine, or something else entirely?

The documentary “Transcendent Man” explores Kurzweil’s quest to reincarnate his dad. We asked him how that quest influenced his goal of “immortality today.”