Monday, June 9, 2008

45 Forever? I Can Handle That...

While the predictions of futurists can be a bit hit-or-miss (hence the cry "Where's my flying car?!"), some end up being pretty close. Ray Kurzweil has a good enough track record for the National Academy of Engineering to publish his sunny forecast for solar energy, and I'm certainly hoping his most recent round of predictions, discussed in this recent New York Times article, is as accurate as his 1989 prediction that by 1998 a computer would beat a World Chess Champion (since IBM's Deep Blue defeated Garry Kasparov 1997).

Ray has predicted, among other things, that in another 15 years, human life expectancy will rise each year faster than we age. That sounds to me that as long as I don't manage to get myself killed in the meantime, I can be 45 forever — which doesn't sound terribly bad, actually. (Of course, the other alternative to continue growing older but never dying, until we're all nothing but shriveled, wrinkly things with no hair except what grows out of our huge ears and noses, which is a somewhat less attractive proposition...) Ray also predicts a technological Singularity sometime in the middle of this century — which any fan of Charles Stross, Vernor Vinge, Iain M. Banks, or Dan Simmons knows sounds pretty sweet.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I read Fantastic Voyage, The Age of Spiritual Machines and The Singularity is Near, and they changed my life. I even found some of his lectures on Itunes and I find myself impatiently awaiting his next book.

Recently read another incredible book that I can't recommend highly enough, especially to all of you who also love Ray Kurzweil's work. The book is ""My Stroke of Insight"" by Dr. Jill Bolte Taylor. I had heard Dr Taylor's talk on the TED dot com site and I have to say, it changed my world. It's spreading virally all over the internet and the book is now a NYTimes Bestseller, so I'm not the only one, but it is the most amazing talk, and the most impactful book I've read in years. (Dr T also was named to Time Magazine's 100 Most Influential People and Oprah had her on her Soul Series last month and I hear they're making a movie about her story so you may already have heard of her)
If you haven't heard Dr Taylor's TEDTalk, that's an absolute must. The book is more and deeper and better, but start with the video (it's 18 minutes). Basically, her story is that she was a 37 yr old Harvard brain scientist who had a massive stroke in the left hemisphere of her brain. Because of her knowledge of how the brain works, and thanks to her amazingly loving and kind mother, she eventually fully recovered (and that part of the book detailing how she did it is inspirational).

There's a lot of learning and magic in the book, but the reason I so highly recommend My Stroke of Insight to this discussion, is because we have powerfully intelligent left brains that are rational, logical, sequential and grounded in detail and time, and then we have our kinesthetic right brains, where we experience intuition and peace and euphoria. Now that Kurzweil has got us taking all those vitamins and living our best ""Fantastic Voyage"" , the absolute necessity is that we read My Stroke of Insight and learn from Dr Taylor how to achieve balance between our right and left brains. Enjoy!