Sunday, February 17, 2008

WE'RE ALL DRIVING ROCKET SHIPS, AND TALKING WITH OUR MINDS: It would be hard to find a blogger, at this site, at least, more anxiously awaiting our new robot overlords. I do not need robot insurance, for I know that the robots will intend only good, good things, for the ugly bags of mostly water that are currently tinkering so furiously to bring them to sentience. Still, the complete hooey, the unsupported speculations and febrile fantasies about advancements in this area that get reported as straight science are a ready and reliable source of amusement on any slow news day.

This weekend's example is from the BBC, which is touting Raymond Kurzweil's claims that by 2029 we can expect computers with near human intelligence and "intelligent nanobots [that] go into our brains... to make us smarter." The technical mechanism for the realization of this latter prediction goes so little explained that anyone taking it seriously might be attributed obvious, perhaps desperate motives, for wanting to believe it to be true.

But that's not the point. The point is that futurists can be fun no matter what the hooey quotient of their musings might be. Space-filling "news" about futurists and their predictions never does justice to the full blown ravings of the futurists themselves, to say nothing of their friends and hangers-on. I love these guys, and gals, who can't bear to confine their fantasies and speculations to the realm of science fiction or fantasy, but insist -- sometimes at high levels of research and complexity, but often at sub-Ronco levels of presentation and persuasiveness -- that what they imagine will one day come to pass.

So, if you have a lazy hour this afternoon, I invite you to poke around at Kurzweil's site (ravings, above) or the Wikipedia link (Kurzweil's name, above -- and I particularly recommend the "External Link" to the debate with David Galernter at MIT) and see if you can't imagine the approximate probable date of our assimilation into the cybernetic hive mind.

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