Wednesday, February 9, 2011

"The Transcendent Man"

For the past year or so, I have really been enjoying the medium of documentary film.  So you can imagine that when I heard there was a doc about Ray Kurzweil, adding it to the top of my queue became an imperative.

In the event that you are unfamiliar with that name, Mr. Kurzweil is a scientist and an inventor.  There are those who would say he's also a bit of a prophet.  Others still call him a crackpot, a dangerous maniac, and are actively scared of the things he has to say.  Kurzweil is the author of The Singularity Is Near, a book that puts forth many an intriguing notion, not the least of which is the titular singularity itself, best described by Kurzweil as: 
"Within a few decades, machine intelligence will surpass human intelligence, leading to The Singularity — technological change so rapid and profound it represents a rupture in the fabric of human history. The implications include the merger of biological and nonbiological intelligence, immortal software-based humans, and ultra-high levels of intelligence that expand outward in the universe at the speed of light."  (Here's the link to that quote.)
Now how much would you expect to pay for that incredible offer?  Don't answer.  Because by the year 2029, Kurzweil predicts, computers will have achieved consciousness.  And perhaps among his more hopeful...and disturbing...predictions is that it may soon be possible to live forever.

Obviously the churchier types among us have a problem with that last bit of business.  "Playing God" and all that such.  I'm of a different opinion.  We have intellect and the ability to use it.  Why shouldn't we then?  How many of us are alive today because of a technological advancement, such as an artificial component that now takes the place of a once defective portion of our body?  That's me.  In at least two ways.  Even the simple act of taking medication is the result of technological advancement so where's the conundrum?   But I digress...

Love him, hate him, or discount his theory of the singularity as impractical tosh, Ray Kurzweil is not boring.  Therefore, I have no doubt that The Transcendent Man will make for fascinating viewing.  It is available on DVD here.

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