NYT on “The Coming Superbrain”

John Markoff writes about AI, Ray Kurzweil, The Singularity, and other such things in a New York Times article. Excerpt:

Today, artificial intelligence, once the preserve of science fiction
writers and eccentric computer prodigies, is back in fashion and
getting serious attention from NASA and from Silicon Valley companies like Google
as well as a new round of start-ups that are designing everything from
next-generation search engines to machines that listen or that are
capable of walking around in the world. A.I.’s new respectability is
turning the spotlight back on the question of where the technologymight be heading and, more ominously, perhaps, whether computer intelligence will surpass our own, and how quickly. […]

Profiled in the documentary “Transcendent Man,”
which had its premier last month at the TriBeCa Film Festival, and with
his own Singularity movie due later this year, Dr. Kurzweil has become
a one-man marketing machine for the concept of post-humanism. He is the
co-founder of Singularity University,
a school supported by Google that will open in June with a grand goal —
to “assemble, educate and inspire a cadre of leaders who strive to
understand and facilitate the development of exponentially advancing
technologies and apply, focus and guide these tools to address
humanity’s grand challenges.”

Not content with the development of
superhuman machines, Dr. Kurzweil envisions “uploading,” or the idea
that the contents of our brain and thought processes can somehow be
translated into a computing environment, making a form of immortality
possible — within his lifetime.

That has led to no shortage of
raised eyebrows among hard-nosed technologists in the engineering
culture here, some of whom describe the Kurzweilian romance with
supermachines as a new form of religion. […]

will probably die, along with the rest of us not too long before the
‘great dawn,’ ” said Gary Bradski, a Silicon Valley roboticist. “Life’s
not fair.”

Link: The Coming Superbrain

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