Ray Kurzweil: Electric Dreams

The documentary “Transcendent Man” is an interesting reflection on Ray Kurzweil and his intriguing instantiation of a technological evangelism which envisions a Rapture-like technological singularity in which humanity will attain pseudo-omniscience and near-immortal longevity. The documentary itself is well balanced and also portrays a number of intellectual antagonists to Kurzweil’s utopian prophesies of a Genetic, Nano-technological and Artificial Intelligence driven human future. Kurzweil has admittedly been correct about many things in the past and has a track record of innovation and technological creativity which have made him a very wealthy man.

It was perhaps the intention of the documentary film maker but the lasting impression of this particular documentary was that Kurzweil’s predictions smack of his own desire to outwit death and perhaps also a deep emotional desire to in some manner “bring back” his deceased father. While Kurzweil has achieved great things and of these some have assisted people overcome their physical limitations and I can intellectually accept many of his assertions, I feel that his desire to master death drives him to prophesy technological outcomes which, realistic or not, are thoroughly narcissistic. Personally – I don’t particularly ever want to die but the cold and steely electric void of cybernetic self-perpetuation composed by Kurzweil opens up far more potentially intractable philosophical problems than concrete solutions to mortality and self-limitation.

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