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Computers with Consciousnesses? It's Sooner than You Think

By Steven Lloyd Wilson | Trailers | May 7, 2009 |

By Steven Lloyd Wilson | Trailers | May 7, 2009 |

Ray Kurzweil is a bit of a celebrity in sci-fi and tech circles, with one of those wacky sorts of lives that would seem too far fetched if it was the backstory of a fictional character. He’s exceptionally quirky, taking hundreds of self-selected supplement pills per day along with gallons of alkaline water and green tea in an effort to extend his lifespan until immortality is technically possible. If he doesn’t make it, he has made arrangements for the cryogenic freezing of his body. But he’s not just some nutty self-medicating health guru: he’s one of the most accomplished inventors of the late twentieth century. He’s made a pile of money on the basis of a variety of inventions he developed from the sixties through today, including a number of inventions aimed at artificial generation of music and pattern recognition.

Kurzweil really struck a chord with the tech community in 1990 with a book called The Age of Intelligent Machines, which predicted the explosion of the internet during the 1990s and speculated on the construction of artificial intelligence within our lifetimes. He followed this up with The Age of Spiritual Machines and The Singularity is Near, which both solidified his credentials as a geek icon and closely tied his work with any discussion of the theory of a singularity. The singularity is the theory that technological progress increases exponentially and that there will be a point when it is moving so quickly that what follows will be unrecognizable and incomprehensible to anyone living before that point. Vernor Vinge coined the term and wrote a great short essay on it that’s floating around the interwebs if you’re interested, but I probably shouldn’t ramble on right here on behalf of a loosely related trailer.

In any case, a documentary about Ray Kurzweil has been finished up and is making the rounds in very limited releases. Here’s the trailer.

Steven Lloyd Wilson is the sci-fi and history editor. You can email him here or follow him on Twitter.

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