Ray Kurzweil is the kind of genius/mad man/prophet that the world needs. He downs dozens of vitamins a day, predicts sweeping changes in the way we live our lives, and is currently working with Google to further the abilities of machine learning.
He’s probably one of the more interesting and frightening people out there, mostly due to the possibility that he’s right about singularity and the unknowns it carries with it.
But what’s more frightening is his take on Spike Jonze’s Her. Kurzweil thinks that the weird pants, computer loving future depicted in the movie is not just great fiction, it’s a look into the future. From Vulture:
I would place some of the elements in Jonze’s depiction at around 2020, give or take a couple of years, such as the diffident and insulting videogame character he interacts with, and the pin-sized cameras that one can place like a freckle on one’s face. Other elements seem more like 2014, such as the flat-panel displays, notebooks and mobile devices … Samantha herself I would place at 2029, when the leap to human-level AI would be reasonably believable. There are some incongruities, however. As I mentioned, a lot of the dramatic tension is provided by the fact that Theodore’s love interest does not have a body. But this is an unrealistic notion. It would be technically trivial in the future to provide her a virtual visual presence to match her virtual auditory presence, using, lens-mounted displays, for example, that display images onto Theodore’s retinas.
It’s amazing where we’ve come from our technological origins and I feel we have great strides to make in the coming years. But I don’t think I’m ready for a future where men and women fall in love with their operating systems. Even if they have a virtual body of my perfect choosing and are willing to pleasure me with my every command!
Luckily, it’s not all rosey with Kurzweil and Her. In fact, there is one very sticky point near the end of the movie that doesn’t sit well with the futurist and wouldn’t happen in reality. It’s almost like Neil deGrasse Tyson showed up at his house and poisoned his mind:
In my view, biological humans will not be outpaced by the AIs because they (we) will enhance themselves (ourselves) with AI. It will not be us versus the machines (whether the machines are enemies or lovers), but rather, we will enhance our own capacity by merging with our intelligent creations. We are doing this already. Even though most of our computers — although not all — are not yet physically inside us, I consider that to be an arbitrary distinction. (via)
You’re going to kill us all with your thinking and book learning, Kurzweil. Take a walk off a short pier pal, the only technology I need is right here in my Bible. That’s where I cut out a place to hide the external HD full of porn from my wife.