CNET también está disponible en español.

Ir a español

Don't show this again

Christmas Gift Guide
Culture

Google exec thinks we're pretty stupid, wants us to be Android phones by 2045

Technically Incorrect: In an interview with Playboy, Google's director of engineering, Ray Kurzweil, says humans are inadequate without implanted nanobots.

Technically Incorrect offers a slightly twisted take on the tech that's taken over our lives.


Illustration of brain with implanted chip

Oh, how we'll change when we're dominated by, and even turned into, machines.

Alfred Pasieka/Science Photo Library/Corbis

I always wanted to be perfect, until I discovered that there's no such thing as the perfect lover.

I reasoned that if perfection didn't exist, I was creating unnecessary pain by trying.

Google's director of engineering, Ray Kurzweil, isn't so pragmatic. In fact, when you read what he said in a new interview with Playboy, you get the impression that humanity, to him, is a sad, low-level species.

"We have limited capacity in our brain," he said. "It's at least a million times slower than computational electronics."

In essence, then, computers are sneering at our incompetence.

Ergo, Kurzweil declared, we need nanobots shoved inside our heads to turn us into, well, what? The sorts of humans Ray Kurzweil would rather hang out with? Or perhaps, as he once intimated, gods?

Yes, bettering humanity is all about turning us into gray-bearded types who can rain down storms and pestilence at the wiggle of an eyebrow.

And it will all start occurring by 2030, he said, with 2045 being the year of the full Singularity, when robots will simply make human intelligence utterly pointless.

Asked whether he thought we were evolving into iPhones, he didn't waver (though he did prefer Google's Android software for phones).

"We're merging with these nonbiological technologies," he mused. "We're already on that path. I mean, this little Android phone I'm carrying on my belt is not yet inside my physical body, but that's an arbitrary distinction. It is part of who I am."

Indeed so. Our phones are just an extra limb created in Californian labs for our betterment.

What exactly, though, will we become? What sorts of people will we be when we have a nanobot permanently at our disposal? Why do we need it so badly?

To sound more clever, is the answer.

"Let's say I'm walking along and I see my boss at Google, Larry Page, approaching," Kurzweil explained. "I have three seconds to come up with something clever to say, and the 300 million modules in my neocortex won't cut it. I need a billion modules for two seconds. I'll be able to access that in the cloud just as we can access additional computation in the cloud for our mobile phones, and I'll be able to say exactly the right thing."

This delightful new world will be one in which everyone will say the right thing to the right person at the right moment.

Billions of kismets all happening every second of every day. Godlike perfection attained by our grubby little species.

And, like so many of the ultimate dreams of contemporary technologists, dull in the extreme.

Or will the wealthy have better, more sophisticated nanobots, so they won't merely be richer, but actually sound smarter for once too?

Who cannot wait for this nirvana of the one-percenters?