The avatar of my father

February 16, 2009

HORATIO: O day and night, but this is wondrous strange.”  The Singularity — the prophesied moment when artificial intelligence leaps ahead of human intelligence, rendering man both obsolete and immortal — has been jokingly called “the rapture of the geeks.” But to Ray Kurzweil, the most famous of the Singularitarians, it’s no joke. In a profile in the current issue of Rolling Stone (not available online), Kurzweil describes how, in the wake of the Singularity, it will become possible not only to preserve living people for eternity (by uploading their minds into computers) but to resurrect the dead.

Kurzweil looks forward in particular to his reunion with his beloved father, Fredric, who died in 1970. “Kurzweil’s most ambitious plan for after the Singularity,” writes Rolling Stone’s David Kushner, “is also his most personal.” […] There’s a real poignancy to Kurzweil’s dream of bringing his dad back to life by weaving together strands of DNA and strands of memory. I could imagine a novel — by Ray Bradbury, maybe — constructed around his otherworldly yearning. Death makes strange even the most rational of minds. […]