The Singularity is Near: Here’s the Proof!
Edited by Paul Budding
This is an edited paper. I have searched for quotes, comments, articles and online
videos that, when put together, equate to both an introduction to Ray Kurzweil‘s
Technological Singularity AND evidence that the Technological Singularity is
coming soon! So for example (if you read this for the proof) you might like the
videos that I provide links for… e.g., Interaxon‘s Thought-Controlled-Technology,
Intendix‘s Thought/Mind-Controlled Typing Technology, Samsung‘s Voice and
Motion Controlled TV‘s, and Samsung‘s Smart Window Technology.
However, the paper starts with familiar territory for those who have read-up on the
Technological Singularity literature. The paper starts with Ray Kurzweil explaining
what the Technological Singularity is. For those new to Ray Kurzweil he predicted
the kinds of innovations that you can watch in those video links that I just referred
too. He also predicted the emergence of the Internet (when others were denying
it‘s possibility or not even considering it) and he correctly predicted that a machine
would beat the World Chess Champion at Chess. Kurzweil is also famous for
writing the book titled „The Singularity is Near: When Humans Transcend Biology‟ …
Hence the title of this edited paper… ‗The Singularity is Near: Here‟s the Proof!‟
Ray Kurzweil on the Technological
Extracted from a paper titled „Questions and Answers on the Singularity‟
So what is the Singularity?
Within a quarter century, nonbiological intelligence will match the range and
subtlety of human intelligence. It will then soar past it because of the continuing
acceleration of information-based technologies, as well as the ability of machines
to instantly share their knowledge. Intelligent nanorobots will be deeply integrated
in our bodies, our brains, and our environment, overcoming pollution and poverty,
providing vastly extended longevity, full-immersion virtual reality incorporating all
of the senses (like ―The Matrix‖),"experience beaming‖ (like ―Being John
Malkovich‖), and vastly enhanced human intelligence. The result will be an
intimate merger between the technology-creating species and the technological
evolutionary process it spawned.
And that‟s the Singularity?
No, that‘s just the precursor. Nonbiological intelligence will have access to its own
design and will be able to improve itself in an increasingly rapid redesign cycle.
We‘ll get to a point where technical progress will be so fast that unenhanced
human intelligence will be unable to follow it. That will mark the Singularity.
When will that occur?
I set the date for the Singularity—representing a profound and disruptive
transformation in human capability—as 2045. The nonbiological intelligence
created in that year will be one billion times more powerful than all human
Why is this called the Singularity?
The term ―Singularity‖ in my book is comparable to the use of this term by the
physics community. Just as we find it hard to see beyond the event horizon of a
black hole, we also find it difficult to see beyond the event horizon of the historical
Singularity. How can we, with our limited biological brains, imagine what our
future civilization, with its intelligence multiplied trillions-fold, be capable of
thinking and doing? Nevertheless, just as we can draw conclusions about the
nature of black holes through our conceptual thinking, despite never having
actually been inside one, our thinking today is powerful enough to have meaningful
insights into the implications of the Singularity. That‘s what I‘ve tried to do in this
Okay, let‟s break this down. It seems a key part of your thesis is that we will
be able to capture the intelligence of our brains in a machine.
So how are we going to achieve that?
We can break this down further into hardware and software requirements. In the
book, I show how we need about 10 quadrillion (1016) calculations per second
(cps) to provide a functional equivalent to all the regions of the brain. Some
estimates are lower than this by a factor of 100. Supercomputers are already at 100
trillion (1014) cps, and will hit 1016 cps around the end of this decade. Several
supercomputers with 1 quadrillion cps are already on the drawing board, with two
Japanese efforts targeting 10 quadrillion cps around the end of the decade. By
2020, 10 quadrillion cps will be available for around $1,000. Achieving the
hardware requirement was controversial when my last book on this topic, The Age
of Spiritual Machines, came out in 1999, but is now pretty much of a mainstream
view among informed observers. Now the controversy is focused on the
And how will we recreate the algorithms of human intelligence?
To understand the principles of human intelligence we need to reverse-engineer
the human brain. Here, progress is far greater than most people realize. The spatial
and temporal (time) resolution of brain scanning is also progressing at an
exponential rate, roughly doubling each year, like most everything else having to do
with information. Just recently, scanning tools can see individual interneuronal
connections, and watch them fire in real time. Already, we have mathematical
models and simulations of a couple dozen regions of the brain, including the
cerebellum, which comprises more than half the neurons in the brain. IBM is now
creating a simulation of about 10,000 cortical neurons, including tens of millions of
connections. The first version will simulate the electrical activity, and a future
version will also simulate the relevant chemical activity. By the mid 2020s, it‘s
conservative to conclude that we will have effective models for all of the brain.
So at that point we‟ll just copy a human brain into a supercomputer?
I would rather put it this way: At that point, we‘ll have a full understanding of the
methods of the human brain. One benefit will be a deep understanding of
ourselves, but the key implication is that it will expand the toolkit of techniques we
can apply to create artificial intelligence. We will then be able to create
nonbiological systems that match human intelligence in the ways that humans are
now superior, for example, our pattern recognition abilities. These superintelligent
computers will be able to do things we are not able to do, such as share knowledge
and skills at electronic speeds. By 2030, a thousand dollars of computation will be
about a thousand times more powerful than a human brain. Keep in mind also that
computers will not be organized as discrete objects as they are today. There will be
a web of computing deeply integrated into the environment, our bodies and brains.
You mentioned the AI tool kit. Hasn‟t AI failed to live up to its
There was a boom and bust cycle in AI during the 1980s, similar to what we saw
recently in e-commerce and telecommunications. Such boom-bust cycles are often
harbingers of true revolutions; recall the railroad boom and bust in the 19th
century. But just as the Internet ―bust‖ was not the end of the Internet, the so-
called ―AI Winter‖ was not the end of the story for AI either. There are hundreds
of applications of ―narrow AI‖ (machine intelligence that equals or exceeds human
intelligence for specific tasks) now permeating our modern infrastructure. Every
time you send an email or make a cell phone call, intelligent algorithms route the
information. AI programs diagnose electrocardiograms with an accuracy rivaling
doctors, evaluate medical images, fly and land airplanes, guide intelligent
autonomous weapons, make automated investment decisions for over a trillion
dollars of funds, and guide industrial processes. These were all research projects a
couple of decades ago. If all the intelligent software in the world were to suddenly
stop functioning, modern civilization would grind to a halt. Of course, our AI
programs are not intelligent enough to organize such a conspiracy, at least not yet.
Why don‟t more people see these profound changes ahead?
Hopefully after they read my new book, they will. But the primary failure is the
inability of many observers to think in exponential terms. Most long-range
forecasts of what is technically feasible in future time periods dramatically
underestimate the power of future developments because they are based on what I
call the ―intuitive linear‖ view of history rather than the ―historical exponential‖
view. My models show that we are doubling the paradigm-shift rate every decade.
Thus the 20th century was gradually speeding up to the rate of progress at the end
of the century; its achievements, therefore, were equivalent to about twenty years
of progress at the rate in 2000. We‘ll make another twenty years of progress in just
fourteen years (by 2014), and then do the same again in only seven years.
To express this another way, we won‘t experience one hundred years of
technological advance in the 21st century; we will witness on the order of 20,000
years of progress (again, when measured by the rate of progress in 2000), or about
1,000 times greater than what was achieved in the 20th century.
The exponential growth of information technologies is even greater: we‘re
doubling the power of information technologies, as measured by price-
performance, bandwidth, capacity and many other types of measures, about every
year. That‘s a factor of a thousand in ten years, a million in twenty years, and a
billion in thirty years. This goes far beyond Moore‘s law (the shrinking of
transistors on an integrated circuit, allowing us to double the price-performance of
electronics each year). Electronics is just one example of many. As another
example, it took us 14 years to sequence HIV; we recently sequenced SARS in only
So this acceleration of information technologies applies to biology as well?
Absolutely. It‘s not just computer devices like cell phones and digital cameras that
are accelerating in capability. Ultimately, everything of importance will be
comprised essentially of information technology. With the advent of
nanotechnology-based manufacturing in the 2020s, we‘ll be able to use inexpensive
table-top devices to manufacture on-demand just about anything from very
inexpensive raw materials using information processes that will rearrange matter
and energy at the molecular level.
We‘ll meet our energy needs using nanotechnology-based solar panels that will
capture the energy in .03 percent of the sunlight that falls on the Earth, which is all
we need to meet our projected energy needs in 2030. We‘ll store the energy in
highly distributed fuel cells.
I want to come back to both biology and nanotechnology, but how can you
be so sure of these developments? Isn‟t technical progress on specific
projects essentially unpredictable?
Predicting specific projects is indeed not feasible. But the result of the overall
complex, chaotic evolutionary process of technological progress is predictable.
People intuitively assume that the current rate of progress will continue for future
periods. Even for those who have been around long enough to experience how the
pace of change increases over time, unexamined intuition leaves one with the
impression that change occurs at the same rate that we have experienced most
recently. From the mathematician‘s perspective, the reason for this is that an
exponential curve looks like a straight line when examined for only a brief
duration. As a result, even sophisticated
commentators, when considering the future, typically use the current pace of
change to determine their expectations in extrapolating progress over the next ten
years or one hundred years. This is why I describe this way of looking at the future
as the ―intuitive linear‖ view. But a serious assessment of the history of technology
reveals that technological change is exponential. Exponential growth is a feature of
any evolutionary process, of which technology is a primary example.
As I show in the book, this has also been true of biological evolution. Indeed,
technological evolution emerges from biological evolution. You can examine the
data in different ways, on different timescales, and for a wide variety of
technologies, ranging from electronic to biological, as well as for their implications,
ranging from the amount of human knowledge to the size of the economy, and
you get the same exponential—not linear—progression. I have over forty graphs
in the book from a broad variety of fields that show the exponential nature of
progress in information-based measures. For the price-performance of computing,
this goes back over a century, well before Gordon Moore was even born.
Aren‟t there are a lot of predictions of the future from the past that look a
little ridiculous now?
Yes, any number of bad predictions from other futurists in earlier eras can be cited
to support the notion that we cannot make reliable predictions. In general, these
prognosticators were not using a methodology based on a sound theory of
technology evolution. I say this not just looking backwards now. I‘ve been making
accurate forward-looking predictions for over twenty years based on these models.
But how can it be the case that we can reliably predict the overall
progression of these technologies if we cannot even predict the outcome of
a single project?
Predicting which company or product will succeed is indeed very difficult, if not
impossible. The same difficulty occurs in predicting which technical design or
standard will prevail. For example, how will the wireless-communication protocols
Wimax, CDMA, and 3G fare over the next several years? However, as I argue
extensively in the book, we find remarkably precise and predictable exponential
trends when assessing the overall effectiveness (as measured in a variety of ways)
of information technologies. And as I mentioned above, information technology
will ultimately underlie everything of value.
But how can that be?
We see examples in other areas of science of very smooth and reliable outcomes
resulting from the interaction of a great many unpredictable events. Consider that
predicting the path of a single molecule in a gas is essentially impossible, but
predicting the properties of the entire gas—comprised of a great many chaotically
interacting molecules—can be done very reliably through the laws of
thermodynamics. Analogously, it is not possible to reliably predict the results of a
specific project or company, but the overall capabilities of information technology,
comprised of many chaotic activities, can nonetheless be dependably anticipated
through what I call "the law of accelerating returns.‖
Accelerating Technological Growth
Technological innovation is speeding up and eventually we will not be able to keep
up with it unless we merge with it. Hence we will merge with it in the sense of
Human/Machine Merger. Technology will replace biology and ultimately the
individuals mind will be uploaded into a Machine. That‘s the Singularity.
The quote below is taken from the comments section of an article on H+
Magazine‟s Website. The article is titled „Itsy-bitsy-teeny-weeny-
Singularities‟. It is written by Nikki Olson and Singularity Utopia.
(Published November 17th 2011)
Quote from Sally Morem
―I believe the salient quality of the Singularity will be the extraordinary pace of
accelerating technology at a certain point in time. I take Kurzweil seriously when
he says acceleration is itself accelerating. Thus, developments are not just doubling
in a certain amount of time, but doubling in a progressively shorter amount of
time. This leads me to postulate a time when our technological progress is
doubling in hours, minutes, seconds‖.
Human/Machine Merger and Immortality
Extracted from an article titled „Ray Kurzweil - Bringing my Dreams to Real
Life in a Virtual World‟. The online name of the writer of the article is
ToranNightFire. The article was uploaded on May 23rd 2011.
I've recently discovered Second Life, a 3D virtual world. One of Kurzweil's
predictions involves using nanobots to download our brains and personalities into
a virtual world intact (i.e., senses and all). This got me thinking: maybe immortality
doesn't have to be living forever in the real world. In the future, maybe immortality
will mean living forever in a virtual world. After all, in the real world, we are
limited by our ability to manipulate matter while, in a virtual world, we are not.
Intriguing idea, don't you think? He discusses this in his recent documentary
Transcendent Man: The Life and Ideas of Ray Kurzweil.
What if you could download yourself into a virtual world, such as Second Life, and
be stored there with the ability to feel and maybe even survive the death of your
biological body? Would you do this? What are some of the potential dangers or
repercussions of such a choice? Do you view this as a good thing for humanity or
is it its end?
Kurzweil predicts that, by 2020, computer technology will have advanced beyond
the brain's capacity. By 2029, he believes we will have completed the reverse
engineering of the human brain. And according to Kurzweil, by 2045, we will have
reached the Singularity's point of no return – the event horizon. (a term borrowed
from general relativity/physics: a time when the human brain and computer
technology have merged. At this point, we will not only incorporate machine
intelligence into our biological selves, but we will also be able to download
biological brains into computers; back ourselves up, so to speak. While Kurzweil
has detractors, for the most part, the majority dispute his timeline more than the
content of his predictions.
Kurzweil thinks that the reverse engineering of the human brain is key. And the
more that we replace one biological aspect of the brain with a technological part
the more that the human brain becomes machine-like (Or human/machine
merger). Parkinsons disease patients already possess a tec aspect to their brain.
Eventually all our brain will be technological and thus our consciousness will not
be characterized by biology at all. This occurs as one aspect of the biological brain
is replaced with a tec aspect until theres no biology there at all. We will indeed
possess exactly the same brains as AI‘s who are born as machines. You won‘t be
able to tell the difference. Thus (logically) machine consciousness will exist.
Ray Kurzweil on our Future Life in Virtual
Extracts from an article titled „The Web within us: Minds and Machines
become One: Subheading: „The Web as Virtual Reality Arena‟. Ray
Kurzweil is the author. Published on KurzweilAI. Date: 22nd February
The nanobots will do more than scan the brain. They will also extend it. One vital
application will be full-immersion virtual reality–a VR induced by the interaction of
nanobots with the brain. We already have electronic devices that can detect and
even control the firing of neurons–essentially creating two-way communication
between electronic and neural circuits (such as the ―neuron transistors‖
demonstrated at Germany‘s Max-Planck Institute for Biochemistry. Scientists have
also demonstrated that biological and nonbiological neurons can work together on
pattern recognition tasks just like an all-biological network.
When we want to experience real reality, the nanobots do nothing. If we want to
enter virtual reality, they suppress all of the inputs coming from the real senses,
and replace them with signals appropriate for the virtual environment. Your brain
would then send signals intended to cause your muscles and limbs to move as you
normally would, but the nanobots again intercept these interneuronal signals,
suppress your real limbs from moving, and instead cause your virtual limbs to
―move‖ while providing the appropriate movement and reorientation (as well as
sounds and tactile sensations) in the virtual environment.
The Web will provide a panoply of virtual environments to explore, and ―going‖ to
these Web environments will not require any equipment not already in our heads.
Some will be recreations of earthly places; others will be fanciful
environments that have no “real” counterpart. Some would be virtual worlds
that seem to violate laws of physics. Want to fly? Walk on walls like a
spider? You can, in this virtual world. We‟ll be able to visit these virtual Web
environments alone, or we‟ll meet others there, people both real and
simulated. Ultimately, there won‟t be a clear distinction between the two.
Nanobot technology will expand our minds in virtually any way imaginable. Our
brains today are relatively fixed in design. Although we do add patterns of
interneuronal connections and neurotransmitter concentrations as a normal part of
the learning process, the overall capacity of the human brain is highly constrained
(to a mere hundred trillion connections). Brain implants based on massively
distributed intelligent nanobots will ultimately expand our memories a trillionfold,
and vastly improve all of our sensory, pattern recognition and cognitive abilities.
Of course, there will be great concern regarding who‘s controlling the nanobots,
and over who the nanobots may be talking to. Organizations such as governments
or extremist groups or just clever individuals could put trillions of undetectable
nanobots in the water or food supply. These ―spy‖ nanobots could then monitor,
influence, and even control our thoughts and actions. We won‘t be defenseless,
however. Just as we have virus scanning software today, we will make use of patrol
nanobots that search for (and destroy) unauthorized nanobots in our brains and
Technological Singularity Definition
I define the Technological Singularity as the point in time when Humans and
Machines Merge. However this is a simple definition… Ray Kurzweil expands on
the definition at the start of this paper.
Ray Kurzweil Interview
The following is extracted from a YouTube Video titled „Ray Kurzweil –
Futurist‟. Ray Kurzweil is being interviewed by Dag Spicer. (July 13th 2009)
There‘s going to be no clear distinction between machines and humans. It‘s all
going to be ―mixed up‖. […] You can have a biological human that‘s got
computers in their brain, [maybe] billions of them. There may be more going on in
the non-biological portion of their intelligence than the biological portion. So are
they machine? Are they human? The action maybe with the non-biological part.
It‘s not going to be a clear distinction between human and machine the way it is
today. My prediction is that we are going to merge with these technologies. […]
We are going to become increasingly non-biological. […] If you look […] at what
is infact going on, our brains are just shuffling around neurotransmitter levels, and
ion channels and ions and those are just representing information. And if you can
shuffle around the information using a different substrate the same thing is going
on. You can do a thought experiment where you take just a little piece of your
brain and replace it with a machine. The machine is operating on a completely
different substrate. But it‘s still the same person. We have actually done this
experiment for example with Parkinsons patients. They had a piece of their brain,
it stopped functioning and we replaced it with a computer. If you ask them do you
think that computer is part of you? [Kurzweil says that he‘s asked this question]
most of them say ‗Yes, it‘s definitely a part of me‘. If you carry this thought
experiment further and keep replacing more and more portions of the brain with
computers the person‘s personality never changes, there‘s a continuity of identity
[so] you would come to the conclusion that it‘s always the same person/the same
consciousness. […] At the end of this process you would have a person that has no
The Exponential Factor
The Exponential Factor needs to be understood in order to properly understand
Kurzweils thinking. There may be fast growth in a technological sector but it is not
until it reaches the ‗Exponential Curve‘ that the speed of its innovation is hard to
keep up with. So for example this speed has clearly occurred concerning mobile
cell phones but AI (despite fast growth) has not reached the exponential curve yet.
Kurzweil says that any sector that equates to an ‗Information Technology‘ will
reach this exponential phase. Such fields include Computation, Biology, Medicine.
Key Dates, 2025-2030 and 2045
The following* is extracted from „Max Moore and Ray Kurzweil on the
Singularity‟. Published on KurzweilAI. Date: February 26 th 2002.
While Kurzweil estimates the timing of nanobots in the bloodstream and the
accompanying health revolution to be timed at between 2025 and 2030 this does
not represent the time of human/machine merger and the overcoming of biology
in its entirety. Kurzweil says that even *―the threshold of a machine passing a valid
Turing Test, although unquestionably a singular milestone, does not represent the
Singularity. This event will not immediately alter human identity in such a
profound way as to represent the tear in the fabric of history that the term
Singularity implies. It will take a while longer for all of these interwined trends –
biotechnology, nanotechnology, computing, communications, miniturizarion, brain
reverse engineering, virtual reality, and others – to fully mature. I estimate the
Singularity at around 2045.‖
Kurzweil on Paradigm Shifts
The following is extracted from „The Singularity is Near: When Humans
transcend Biology‟. Author: Ray Kurzweil. (Penguin Books, 2005)
―A specific paradigm (a method or approach to solving a problem; for example,
shrinking transistors or an integrated circuit as a way to make more powerful
computers) generates exponential growth until its potential is exhausted. When this
happens, a paradigm shift occurs, which enables exponential growth to continue.‖
(p42 & 43)
On page 43 under the heading “The Life Cycle of a Paradigm” Kurzweil writes:
―Each paradigm develops in three stages:
1. Slow growth (the early phase of exponential growth)
2. Rapid growth (the late explosive phase of exponential growth) […]
3. A levelling off as the particular paradigm matures.‖
Kurzweil is clear throughout his book that when the limits of a paradigm are
reached humans look for new ways to continue progress in the field. New ways =
new methods/new tools and hence a paradigm revolution. For example on page
434 of The Singularity is Near he writes:
―Every time a specific computing paradigm was seen to approach its limit, research
interest and pressure increased to create the next paradigm.‖ Hence ―the
impending end of a given paradigm does not represent a true limit.‖
Page 36) ―Paradigm shifts are major changes in methods and intellectual processes
to accomplish tasks.‖ On this same page Kurzweil cites the example of the
paradigm shift from writing to the computer (typing).
Page 25) Kurzweil says that the rate of paradigm shift (technical innovation) is
accelerating right now, doubling every decade.
Technological Ubiquitous Society
Humans are getting more Machine-like and machines are getting more human-like.
Soon humans will communicate with machines in a kind of ubiquitous techno-
Technological Ubiquitous Society = Technology Everywhere.
We see early evidence of this in for example, Interaxons Thought-Controlled-
Others refer to this as brain/machine interface.
Meanwhile technology in the body will cure us from diseases automatically… this
technology will equate to nanobots in the bloodstream according to Kurzweil.
Marvin Minsky defines such tec as ―Condition-detectors‖.
Friendly AI, Free AI, AI… call it what you will… I do not conceive of it as just
being created oneday… maybe that will happen but that isn‘t the way I can
approach the issue. I can only envisage it (in a non SF way) as the gradual
replacement of one aspect of the biological brain with a tec part. So that the
human eventually becomes machine because the brain eventually becomes entirely
machine. Then of course AIs will be created by making machine brains just like
human machine brains. We will then (perhaps) give this brain a body but not a
biological body. Given our taste for good-looks we will give the brain pleasing-on-
the-eye limbs and handsome or attractive face. But the machines will not be better
looking than previously biological humans. This is because previously biological
humans will have replaced biological body parts too for both alleviating risk of
physical harm and vanity reasons. Moreover this issue is complicated by the fact
that humans will spend much of their time or all of their time inside a machine as
their mind will be downloaded into a virtual reality simulation…. hence we may
not be existing in the physical world anyway.
Singularity Utopia on AI
Singularity Utopia is the online name of the author.
Singularity Utopia defines herself as a superlative mind-explosion expert, specializing in Post-
Scarcity awareness via instantiations of Singularity activism, based on the Self-Fulfilling-Prophecy
phenomenon. She is deeply shocked by the failure of economists and politicians to openly discuss
preparations for transition into a Post-Scarcity civilization.
Below: Comment by Singularity Utopia in her article titled “My Hostility
towards the concept of Friendly-AI” (16th January 2012, H+ Magazine)
From my viewpoint AIs will be human because the words ―humanity‖ ―inhuman‖
and ―humane‖ are issues bigger than merely having human DNA. AIs will allow us
to question what it means to be human therefore in the future Human Rights will
also apply to AIs or perhaps we shall rename the Rights as Sentient Rights. If a
human uploads into cyberspace such a being ceases to belong to Homo Sapiens
but they would continue to be human despite having no flesh, no bio-body.
Butchering of uploaded human code prior to a cybersapce birth is no different to
the butchering of AIs – humans will be AIs and AIs will be humans, or more
correctly we will be Transhumans and then Posthumans. There is no us and them
in the future.
The following is extracted from a paper titled „The Matrix Loses Its Way:
Reflections on „Matrix‟ and „Matrix Reloaded‟. Author: Ray Kurzweil.
(KurzweilAI, 19th May 2003)
The Matrix [movie] introduced its vast audience to the idea of full-immersion
virtual reality, to what Morpheus (Laurence Fishburne) describes as a ―neural
interactive simulation‖ that is indistinguishable from real reality.
I have been asked many times whether virtual reality with this level of realism will
be feasible and when.
As I described in my chapter ―The Human Machine Merger: Are We Heading for
The Matrix?‖ in the book Taking the Red Pill1, virtual reality will become a
profoundly transforming technology by 2030. By then, nanobots (robots the size
of human blood cells or smaller, built with key features at the multi-nanometer—
billionth of a meter—scale) will provide fully immersive, totally convincing virtual
reality in the following way.
The nanobots take up positions in close physical proximity to every interneuronal
connection coming from all of our senses (e.g., eyes, ears, skin). We already have
the technology for electronic devices to communicate with neurons in both
directions that requires no direct physical contact with the neurons.
For example, scientists at the Max Planck Institute have developed ―neuron
transistors‖ that can detect the firing of a nearby neuron, or alternatively, can cause
a nearby neuron to fire, or suppress it from firing. This amounts to two-way
communication between neurons and the electronic-based neuron transistors. The
Institute scientists demonstrated their invention by controlling the movement of a
living leech from their computer.
Nanobot-based virtual reality is not yet feasible in size and cost, but we have made
a good start in understanding the encoding of sensory signals. For example, Lloyd
Watts and his colleagues have developed a detailed model of the sensory coding
and transformations that take place in the auditory processing regions of the
human brain. We are at an even earlier stage in understanding the complex
feedback loops and neural pathways in the visual system.
When we want to experience real reality, the nanobots just stay in position (in the
capillaries) and do nothing. If we want to enter virtual reality, they suppress all of
the inputs coming from the real senses, and replace them with the signals that
would be appropriate for the virtual environment. You (i.e., your brain) could
decide to cause your muscles and limbs to move as you normally would, but the
nanobots again intercept these interneuronal signals, suppress your real limbs from
moving, and instead cause your virtual limbs to move and provide the appropriate
movement and reorientation in the virtual environment.
The Web will provide a panoply of virtual environments to explore. Some will be
recreations of real places, others will be fanciful environments that have no ―real‖
counterpart. Some indeed would be impossible in the physical world (perhaps
because they violate the laws of physics). We will be able to ―go‖ to these virtual
environments by ourselves, or we will meet other people there, both real and
By 2030, going to a web site will mean entering a full-immersion virtual-reality
environment. In addition to encompassing all of the senses, these shared
environments could include emotional overlays, since the nanobots will be capable
of triggering the neurological correlates of emotions, sexual pleasure, and other
derivatives of our sensory experience and mental reactions.
Ray Kurzweil on his Critics
The following is extracted from an article titled „2045: The Year Man
Becomes Immortal. Author: Ray Kurzweil in Lev Grossman. (Time
Magazine, 10th February 2011)
"Generally speaking," he [Kurzweil] says, "the core of a disagreement I'll have with
a critic is, they'll say, Oh, Kurzweil is underestimating the complexity of reverse-
engineering of the human brain or the complexity of biology. But I don't believe
I'm underestimating the challenge. I think they're underestimating the power of
Moving Virtual and Physical Objects with
Click on the link below to watch a TED Video titled „A Headset that reads
your Brainwave‟. Speaker: Tan Le. (July 2010)
The following is extracted from a comment by „Ray Kurzweil titled „Ray
Kurzweil responds [to Richard Eckersley]. (The Futurist, March/April
Two hundred years ago, there was no understanding of sanitation, so bacterial
infections were rampant. There were no antibiotics and no social safety nets, so an
infectious disease was a disaster plunging a family into desperation. Thomas
Hobbes‘s characterization in 1651 of human life as solitary, poor, nasty, brutish,
and short was on the mark. Even ignoring infant mortality, life expectancy was in
the 30s only a couple of hundred years ago. Schubert‘s and Mozart‘s deaths at 31
and 35 respectively were typical.
The following quote is taken from „The Singularity is Near: When Humans
transcend Biology‟. Author: Ray Kurzweil. (Penguin Books, 2005)
Life Expectancy (Years)
Cro-Magnon era (c. 20,000 B.C.): 18 years
Ancient Egypt (c. 1800 B.C.): 25 years
Medieval Europe (c. 1400): 30 years
Industrial Revolution in Europe and U.S. (c. 1800): 37 years
Second Industrial Revolution (c. 1900): 48 years
Internet Age (2002): 78 years
The following is extracted from Edge: The Singularity: A Talk with Ray
Ray Kurzweil) ―If you look at human longevity – which is another of those
exponential trends – you‘ll notice that we added a few days every year to the
human life expectancy in the 18th century. In the 19th century we added a few
weeks every year, and now we‘re adding over a hundred days a year, through all of
these developments which are going to continue to accelerate. Many
knowledgeable observers, including myself, feel that within ten years we‘ll be
adding more than a year every year to life expectancy.
As we get older, human life expectancy will actually move out at a faster rate than
we‘re actually progressing in age, so if we hang in there, our generation is right on
the edge. We have to watch our health the old-fashioned way for a while longer so
we‘re not the last generation to die prematurely. But if you look at our kids, by the
time that they‘re 20, 30, 40 years old, these technologies will be so advanced that
human life expectancy will be pushed way out.
We still have not millions but billions of people who are suffering from disease and
poverty, and we have the opportunity to overcome those problems through these
Ray Kurzweil: Longevity and Transcending
The following is extracted from an article titled „Reinventing Humanity:
The Future of Machine-Human Intelligence‟. Author: Ray Kurzweil. (The
Futurist, March/April 2006)
―…real human longevity will only be attained when we move away from our
biological bodies entirely. As we move toward a software-based existence, we will
gain the means of ―backing ourselves up‖ (storing the key patterns underlying our
knowledge, skills, and personality in a digital setting) thereby enabling a virtual
immortality. Thanks to nanotechnology, we will have bodies that we can not
only modify, but also change into new forms at will. We will be able to quickly
change our bodies in full-immersion virtual-reality environments incorporating all
of the senses during the 2020s and in real reality in the 2040s.‖
Kurzweil on Terminology
The following quote is extracted from a YouTube video titled „Ray Kurzweil
about new words, software and empathy‟. (Ray Kurzweil is being
interviewed by David Orban. Orban uploaded the video on 6 th March 2011).
A term ―I really don‘t use and object to is ‗Transhumanism‘ because it implies that
we are going to transcend our humanity. I think we‘re actually going to enhance
our humanity. We‘re going to transcend the limitations of biology and be
WATSONAI may only be Narrow AI but is damned clever nevertheless!
Examples of WATSON AI correctly answering questions on the U.S. game-show
Jeopardy. Extracted from a YouTube video uploaded on 28 February 2011.
―It‘s just acne! You don‘t have this Skin Infection also known as Hansen‘s
Watson correctly replies:
―What is Leprosy‖
―You‘re just a little stiff! You don‘t have this painful Mosquito-Borne Joint Illness
with a Swahili Name.‖
Watson correctly replies:
―What is Dengue Fever‖
―You just need a little more Sun. You don‘t have this hereditary lack of Pigment.‖
Watson correctly replies:
―What is Albinism‖
An article titled ‗Watson wins on Jeopardy: Trivial its not‘ written by John Markoff
in The New York Times Science Section (February 16th 2011) cites the following as
an example of Watsons medical intelligence:
―You just need a nap. You don‘t have this sleep disorder that can make sufferers
nod off while standing up.‖
Watson correctly replies:
―What is narcolepsy?‖
Second-Life Avatars controlled by the Mind
The following is extracted from an article titled „Second-Life Avatars
Controlled Via Brain-Computer Interface‟. Author: Tkoranyi. (Neuro
Gadget.com, July 8th 2011)
A p300 based BCI [i.e., Brain-controlled Interface] system from G. Tec was
interfaced with the popular Second Life game. Second Life as BCI application is of
special interest because patients appear like healthy persons. The story rolls back to
two friends who […] met in a bar in the online environment Second Life to chat
about their latest tweets and favourite TV shows. Nothing unusual in that – except
that both of them have Lou Gehrig‘s disease, otherwise known as amyotrophic
lateral sclerosis (ALS), and it has left them so severely paralysed that they can only
move their eyes.
These Second Lifers are just two of more than 50 severely disabled people who
have been trying out a sophisticated new brain-computer interface. Second Life has
been controlled using BCI‘s before, but only to a very rudimentary level. The new
interface, developed by medical engineering company G. Tec of Schidberg,
Austria, lets users freely explore Second Life‘s virtual world and control their
avatar within it.
It can be used to give people control over their real-world environment too:
opening and closing doors, controlling the TV, lights, thermostat and intercom,
answering the phone, or even publishing Twitter posts.
Thought Controlled Computing
Click on the link below to watch Ariel Garten lecture and demonstrate
Interaxon‟s Thought-Controlled-Computing technology. (December 2011).
Effective Lie Detecting Technology
The following is extracted from a Wall Street Journal Science article titled
„Brain-Controlled-Computing Closer to Reality‟. Ariel Garten is being
quoted here by Ben Rooney. (13th December 2011)
Ariel Garten ―is optimistic. ―When you notice something there is a brain wave
called a P300. At the moment we can‘t pick these up with the current consumer
configurations that are available,‖ she said. ―But I am sure that in time we will.
People have only been working with these for a year or two.‖
The P300 is the brain wave associated with someone noticing something. So what
use would that have?
―Lie detecting,‖ she said. ―If you showed a criminal something, say the crime scene
and asked them ‗is that familiar?‘ His brainwaves would give him away.‖
Samsung’s Voice Controlled & Motion
controlled Smart TV Technology
Samsung laid out its television strategy at its press conference on the eve of the
2012 Consumer Electronics Show. They have added motion control, voice control
and face recognition to their Smart TVs. (Uploaded 9th January 2012). Watch the
Samsung Unveils the Smartest Window
you’ve ever seen at CES
―Quite frankly, I feel like I‘m in Minority Report and that‘s really awesome,‖ said
Ashley Esqueda from Mobile Nations.
To watch this video click on the link below:
Typing with only the Mind
Soon everyone will type using only the Mind. (Keyboards will be a thing of the
past). And just imagine how life-saving this is for anyone suffering from the
‗Locked-In‘ state. The company Intendix demonstrate their thought-controlled
technology in this video...
To watch the video click the link below:
It is technology that revolutionizes liberal
It has always seemed obvious to me that it is technology that produces the radical
and revolutionary change in modern western societies. (as opposed to politics
which seems to be more about ‗access‘). So for example destroying disease and
radically increasing life expectancy is a medical technological science achievement.
Towards the end of this lengthy 21 minute video, (uploaded: November 2011)
beautiful-terrifying David Rowan (Chief Editor of Wired.com) says that in ten
years we will consider it weird that ―education was something that happened on a
University platform with a lecturer talking to you and the crowd hasn‘t assessed
how good that lecturer was. Why [were] you only getting the person who was
employed by that particular University? Why [weren‘t] you getting the best
knowledge in the world?‖ Also, says Rowan, we will think it weird that we used to
go to hospitals when we were ill. We will think it weird that ―they [had] to start
inputting data based on who we [were]‖. This will be weird from the near-future‘s
perspective because medical technology will soon be intimately connected to us
and this it will spot ―problems in advance.‖ Of course the nanobots that Kurzweil
discusses are one advance that could make the past look not-so-much weird but
rather primitive in comparison. And there is also the WatsonAI breakthrough that
is benefitting medical diagnosis now. See my December 2011 edited paper, From
Weak AI to Strong AI at http://www.docstoc.com/docs/107573624/From-
Ray Kurzweil on the Significance of Strong
The following statements are taken from „The Singularity is Near, When
Humans Transcend Biology‟. Author: Ray Kurzweil. (Penguin Books, 2005)
P293) One simple statement if the strong AI scenario is that we will learn the
principles of operation of human intelligence from reverse engineering all the
brain‘s regions, and we will apply these principles to the brain-capable computing
platforms that will exist in the 2020s. We already have an effective toolkit for
narrow AI. Through the ongoing refinement of these methods, the development
of new algorithms, and the trend toward combining multiple methods into intricate
architectures, narrow AI will continue to become less narrow *. That is, AI
applications will have broader domains, and their performance will become more
flexible. AI systems will develop multiple ways of approaching each problem, just
as humans do. Most important, the new insights and paradigms resulting from the
acceleration of brain reverse engineering will greatly enrich the set of tools on an
ongoing basis. This process is well under way.
P296) The advent of Strong AI is the most important transformation this century
will see. Indeed, it‘s comparable in importance to the advent of biology itself. It
will mean that a creation of biology has finally mastered its own intelligence and
discovered means to overcome its limitations. Once the principles of operation of
human intelligence are understood, expanding its abilities will be conducted by
human scientists and engineers whose own biological intelligence will have been
greatly amplified through an intimate merger with nonbiological intelligence. Over
time, the nonbiological portion will predominate.
On page 300 of the same book Kurzweil quotes the Director of the MIT AI Lab,
Rodney Brooks, who says ―Our machines will become much more like us, and we
will become much more life our machines.‖
* NOTE: “Less Narrow” i.e., means more human-like… more able to do
general tasks as opposed to merely undertaking specific tasks. Ben Goertzel
would refer to Strong AI as Artificial General Intelligence (AGI).