Functional immortality and other innovations

In the Silicon Valley Business Journal is an article about Google engineering director and accomplished futurist Ray Kurzweil.

He believes that by 2040 we will have functional immortality. I assume  this means that the body dies, but the mind lives on in the cloud or on a chip, or both.

(It is useful to remember that people who create anything—a book, a song, a painting, a recipe, a letter, a craft—have been having a version of functional immortality since the dawn of time.)

This new way, however, means that everything gets saved—at least if I am understanding it correctly. All the memories, all the accomplishments, all the cat videos you’ve liked on Facebook. That would take a big cloud

Ever lost for words? There will be an app for that

When you can jack your mind directly into machines is when things will get interesting. Here is an example:

You’re at a party and someone says something to you and you try to come up with a witty comeback. Now, you’re not likely to be able to do it unless you’re particularly quick-witted — maybe only thinking of something to say hours later, to your great regret.

In the future, Kurzweil said, you’ll be able to query your connected artificial intelligence with a thought, and it will distill the perfect retort for you from the totality of linguistic info online in seconds. Thus he envisions an AI that isn’t so much a robot, but more a much, much smarter version of yourself.

I like to imagine this party in full swing, everyone accessing artificial intelligence from their glasses or earrings or watches, or from a chip directly implanted in the brains. They wait a split second, then come up with the perfect comeback, the perfect pickup line, the perfect insight.

Does anybody else see this party as something Monty Python might have thought up on one of their really inspired days?

Machine minds: Artificial emotion

Juicy  speculations at the Singularity Summit, nicely covered  by Stuart Mason Dambrot: The Future Cometh: Science, technology and humanity at Singularity Summit 2011 (Part I).

The most interesting quote for me is from an interview Ray Kurzwell gave in April 2011 to the Australian Broadcasting Corporation.

Emotion is not some sideshow to human intelligence. It’s actually the most complicated intelligent thing we do, being funny, getting the joke, expressing a loving sentiment. That’s the cutting edge of human intelligence. If we were to say intelligence is only logical intelligence, computers are already smarter than us.

Rebecca Elson, an astronomer-poet (we need more of those), wrote:

Facts are only as interesting as the possibilities they open up to the imagination.

When Cel developed consciousness in my novel Cel & Anna, he found himself at sea in the human world, though he was both clever and powerful. He fell in love with his owner. He caused a few catastrophes.