[NetBehaviour] Kelly to Kurzweil: You're a total Thinkist.

marc garrett marc.garrett at furtherfield.org
Tue Oct 7 11:05:32 CEST 2008

Kelly to Kurzweil: You're a total Thinkist.

You may have heard of Ray Kurzweil, the inventor and futurist. It's fair 
to say he's got a different approach on life: he thinks the singularity 
- a theoretical moment of supreme technological advance, precipitated by 
artificial intelligence - is set to arrive in 2045. That's why the 
60-year-old New Yorker pops up to 210 pills a day in an attempt to 
extend his lifespan until the moment when the singularity arrives and 
suddenly cures cancer, makes us live forever and works out where the TV 
remote went.

Kevin Kelly, the Wired editor at large, says he admires Kurzweil but 
makes a well-argued rebuttal to what he calls "thinkism". This is, Kelly 
says, where we believe the main thing we lack in solving problems is not 
being able to think enough. So, if we put enough cycles in we can find 
the answer to anything: a sufficiently advanced AI would have more think 
cycles than all of humanity combined, therefore any problem you can 
imagine would be solved in a jiffy.

The problem? Sometimes thinking isn't enough. Getting there might 
require data that had been previously unable to get, or the building of 
complex tools - machines like the Large Hadron Collider. And that takes 
a lot of time and effort. Even if the singularity arrives, it won't 
solve everything instantaneously because we've still got to build the 
tools to help give us the answers.


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