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Ray Kurzweil at SXSWMolly Wood sits down with Ray Kurzweil, futurist and author, to discuss his predictions of technology and humanity, space, and his upcoming book.
Hello everyone. I'm (??) from CNET.com at Southwest, Southwest 2012 and I am incredibly excited today to be speaking with (??) as well Engineer futurist author of the Singularity as (near?) and then the sport coming book which sounds incredible how to create a mind. The secrets of human thoughts reveals. So no pressure for this book it's a pretty big promise. Well I think we actually have enough (??) to standing to describe the basic mechanism of the (??) cortexes. This little region in the brain while we do our thinking and my thesis is a module. I recognize the pattern and I remember a pattern and (??) 300 million times as self organize itself into a (??) hierarchy it's the keyword that's why we can do higher article thinking which is a key feature of mammals but we took it to a greater extent. So 80% of our brain is in the (??) cortex but I describe how that works and related to things like creativity and innovation and consciousness, free will, all those issues. And are you relating it to eventual development of the same capabilities and machines? Yes. That's actually the title how to create a mind. Right. (Transout?) the technique that we've actually (??) into artificial intelligence is mathematically equivalent to what the brain actually does. You know because we copied it but we're kind of (??) at the same conclusion and describe how that works and we have very impressive examples of artificial intelligence like Watson for example and now Watson I understand this convoluted jeopardy inquiries but it actually sat down so to speak and read 200 million pages of material including all wikipedia and remember it all and it understood in natural language as it was not encoded by the scientists so it's capable of actually absorbing knowledge from documents we've reading 200 million of them. So when you look around then party... when you look around you're sort of have most recently (peg?) to the potential date of the singularity at 2035. When you look at something like Watson and you've thinking about your own theory of exponential change and (??). Do you feel like we're might be getting closer. Absolutely. These two kid (age?) 2039 is one of the computer (??) matching in intelligence. It seems to know that Watson even are actually does not understand human languages as well as the human could get a higher score than the best to humans put together because whatever it (??) can do it can undo that over massive amounts of material and mastered it all and have total recall. You and I could read (Wikipedia?) but we wouldn't remember any much of it. We would double in size but in time we were done (Wikipedia?) can read the whole thing in a week. Right. And remembered it all. So it's a very powerful combination. This should give us real confidence that 2039 date is if anything conservative and then information technology both hardware and software which is not appreciated. We'll continue to draw exponentially. So with 2045 we're talking about an increase you know collective human machine intelligence of a factor of rebellion that such a singular change that we bother as metaphor from physics and called singularity. Right. I'm obsessed with this concept, don't you? I read your book. And one other thing I find really interesting about it is that you have a fairly optimistic view of what will happen post singularity. I almost feel reading your book like it's an optimism that pervades even through you know the terrible news that we seen today but I feel like well you know technology will fix these problems. Not everyone agrees though. Well first of all these terrible news that you read is good news that you read it because 30,000 people might die in a battle and (low?) with two and if this sold in all there's a (??) news and run through it's like in the movie theater. Well one maybe you write about it in the newspaper only elite did that. In 19 centuries there's no information at all. We have much better information today about what's wrong with the world, that's a good thing. And I have many analyses and graphs that show the same kind of progressions steadily towards better health, better wealth, more education for the developing world and world wide. All of these measures we associate with well being are continually improving so this is not just often the future so Ray Thomas (Hubbs?) and Charles Dickens about how horrific human life was. Human life expectancy was 37 200 years ago. All right. I think I'm thrilled to be alive now for sure. But... That being said there are dangerous through this new technologies, fire kept it warm but also burn down villages. Technologies been (??), sword ever since we've had technology and I've written you know probably more than 81 about these changes and what to do about them but these are not kinda answers and this is a major challenge in humanity. How do we control the dangers and to say of a bio terrorist getting hold of bio technology and reengineering a virus to be more deadly and these are negative scenarios that we have to be weary of. So I'm kinda be an optimistic person. I think if you actually examine human history today then look at it factually. We are steadily getting better and better off. (??) in Africa with the smart phone has access to one information than the President of the United States did 15 years ago. Here she is walking around with a billion dollars of communications and (capitations?) circa 1975. So we're all and it's not just gonna be these gadgets that we're gonna be applying these exponential growing information technologies, the things like food and water and energy. Okay. When you look around now let's say at some place like Southwest Southwest how much of a (stake?) do you have in the types of or interest at least. The types of innovation that we're pursuing you know if I ever to comply that Southwest, Southwest it feels like the only thing we're innovating on is a (tech?) communities better ways to check into restaurants. What could distract us from the goal of a really great technology information? Well I'm fed up to me just talk to a very small facts and the people here and even counted some very creative companies that are working in artificial intelligence, bio technology, new applications of communications and social networks every area of technology and in my view we get from here to kinda future visions I (paint?) once small innovation at a time. Okay. It's not that some lab is gonna make this giant (flip?) and so it's all of these enterpreuners that you made here and I then made everyday. They're gonna make that happen. That was kinda my next question is do you see this one thing it's like light (pro?) comes along. Electro camera comes along and that pushes digital imaging forward in a new direction and it all adds up to another logarithmic graph? Actually I have a daily newsletter so I read what myself and my editorial staff come with and we have to struggle or began ten years ago maybe once a week we'd finally (??) it exciting story that was a breakthrough then else several a day it's definitely happening faster and faster. The printing press took 400 years to take off the telephone that they got in 50 years (??) quarter of US population. Cellphone did that in 7 years. Social networks (??) and blogs did that in 3 years. Well back 4 years ago, most people didn't use social networks (??) and blogs. It sounds like ancient history there wasn't so long ago so things are happening faster and faster and it's made up of lots of innovators and the whole supports around the world really 'cause I traveled the world and the American model (??) Capital and ancient capital and that's quite of innovation the entrepreneurship is really growing everywhere. That's why I'm encouraging. So as we have accessed to more information, more knowledge it seems like we also kind of the potential and generate more fear, more concern. I mean what are the... Is there a point which humanity would stop itself from progressing. Do we have built in political, religious even scientific or economic barriers that could slow down this (rough?). Yeah. The things that could slow down if they will do it all are very small stones in the river. Like take stem cell research. Right. That's not equivalent to bio technology. That's one little technique and the progress is flow around it. Invented away to create the equivalent of embryonic stem cells without embryos by taking your skin cells (??) for genes and creating was told induced (??) cell which is equivalent to an embryonic stem cell and the (??) who opposed to embryonic stem cell is like this idea 'cause no embryos involved and it's better anyway if you want a (??) delivery or like to have a DNA and not the DNA of some other embryo and more and more people are now involved because of tools of innovation and democratize. A kid in it's (dorm?) room can start Facebook or Google and you've got you know teenagers like (??) and can send who rules the world of fashion. She's 14 years old with her very influential blog. She's in a cover of Vogue recently and so you're seeing young people with very inexpensive tools who complete ideas that shake the world and actually reach the world market. Some of my friends today were talking about the idea (Habeas?) Genetecists and (Habeas?) Biologist who have now have the tools to map viruses at home, originally at home. And patient groups are organizing not just to keep each other informed but they actually solve the problem. They have the motivation to cure their disease and now have the tools to do so. We've got hundred thousand or million people with the disease. They've got the skills and with collaborative decision making and problem solving software which is solving lots of different problems that's becoming quite physical. I couldn't... I would (??) if I didn't ask you obviously but the future of humanity. It felt like the book the singularity is (??) pretty, positive (felt?). What will happen to humans in a post singularity world that we will be happily part of new machine consciousness and a sort of biological machines assistance but I was very interested in the idea that there will be a small group of humans that chooses to remain natural. And reexist on a different of consciousness. Well first of all there is Chapter 8. The deeply intertwined promise is parallel of GNR which talks a pretty (stop?) terms about some of the dangerous. So we are introducing new technologies at a (dangerous?) and that's really our major challenge but as people are opt out we have them today that called the (Amish?). Maybe there are few other groups. I mean how many people opt out of modern communication technologies and so on but it's not one thing it sounds like (Chuck?) here. I wanna be an (??) yes, no. I mean there's a million choices. Right. There's a million of choices on iPhone apps already. So this gonna be million of choices. There'll be very conservative things which you would be foolish not to use and then about that basically fights you know many or most diseases and you'd be irresponsible not to do it and then there'll be more (edgy?) things that are optional and there'll be millions of those and some will be adapt some won't be but it's gonna be very hard to find people that opt out completely. How many people opt out now? Well it seems that these concerns have led you're kind of what could be very useful planning right for the kind of survival of humanity if this singularity university and... Well the reason I write about these things and the reason I think is important is for people to know where we're headed. We can't define precisely these companies are gonna succeed. This technical stand will be adapted but we can talk of general terms about what the power capacity (??) and performance of these future technologies will be and it does provide the scale to solve the major challenges of humanity availability of water or applying through dimensional printing to printing out houses at very low cost, legal style. Right. And so on. These are really feasible ideas and people look it the problems and they're got overwhelmed 'cause they're assuming that we're only gonna have 19 century tools to deal with them but they look at this emerging exponential growing technologies. It has the potential to solve the major challenges at the same time it's gonna introduce new challenges. These issues like privacy which you are familiar with. This more existential risks. So we have to deal with those. I believe there is a path. We really have to give high priority to overcoming the challenges and taking advantage of the promise. Do you ever feel like you're like the scientist (??) mechanics through studying in a properties of molecule then changing it by looking at it because sometimes when I look the predictions that are attributed to use say 2019 we will all have heads up display glasses. I mean. Our Google engineers working on those glasses because you wrote about them? I think there are some feedback. I mean I'm actually trying to influence technology in a constructive direction. The reason I wrote about these things so that we'll develop the positive applications and also be mindful of the risks. So we need ethical standards how to avoid dangerous. We need to rapid response systems of the systems that will respond if someone put out a new biology (??) virus. Right. That actually is in place. I actually worked on that will be alarming. So writing about those dangers is intended to get people to work on them. Right. This is maybe a little bit of a left term but what about space? So if you are imagining civilization in which we have progressed so far that we're you know beings of incredible consciousness that potentially (??) control the universe. Is it possible that some other species on a different planet gets their first so to speak? Well I've written (??) about that. One... And in fact had a public debate at (??), intelligence about this issue and I think the common (??) assumption is that well this the likelihood that anyone planning has some intelligent civilizations it's small but there's so many of them billions and billions that there must be thousands of them out there. The problem is that they're ignoring what I called the law of (??), and once a civilization gets to say the point and we were at with primitive radio and the (??) express. It's only a matter of few short centuries before they're dealing with the kind of technologies that I write about the singularities. Like we (??) common even the last 150 years 50 years from now, 100 years from now we'll gonna have this fantastic technologies within couple of centuries that we're doing galaxy wide engineering would be impossible not to notice if there were thousands of civilizations out there during galaxy wide engineering and we don't see those. Right. That's the (??) paradox. My conclusion is it probably not out there. Let's say that must be incredibly like. At all. Think that we are the first but someone's gotta be the first. I think it's very unlikely to have the universal together that can undergo evolution encode information yet here we are by the (??) principal of one the case we wouldn't be talking about it. So I've written about this in the singularity. I think the fact that we have a notice and means we're not gonna notice them. Or if there weren't there we're moving much faster? Well once you get say the point we are at it's a very short amount of time cosmologically speaking which is measured in millions or billions of years to get to a point of vast technological reach. Okay. That make sense and then what are your thoughts on the search for the (??). The search for? The search for (??), I mean I assumed that you must consider at all part of our sort of every question that gets answered leads to ten more questions and ten more answers that's like (??) journalist to understand (??). Physics has been great at coming at advance and (??) terms that people can relay to because otherwise it's very hard time to understand. I didn't call the (??) particle. So no that came from the physics community and not from the press. Now they were (saying it's static?). So dark matter that sounds very mysterious. I think it's self (??) to try to make physics more understandable and 'cause physics leads to practical results and all of electronics as based on physics and based on Quantum effects so all of these insights lead to practical insights. But understanding the world around us is a natural curiosity we have and one other things we're curious about is how our brain work. So that's what I'm examining in this (textbook?). So the book comes out in October? Yeah. Okay. I preordered it today. I want you to know I really looking forward to reading it. Thank you so much (??) yesterday and enjoy Austin. I will. I am. Great. So you can see obviously this interview that you're watching now and many more interviews from Southwest Southwest all of our coverage at CNETTV.com.