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Ray Kurzweil

Kurzweil is a public advocate for the futurist and transhumanist movements, and gives public talks to share his optimistic outlook on life extension technologies and the future of nanotechnology, robotics, and biotechnology.

His Unitarian church had the philosophy of many paths to the truth – the religious education consisted of studying a single religion for six months before moving on to the next.[citation needed]

He decided that the best application of this technology would be to create a reading machine, which would allow blind people to understand written text by having a computer read it to them aloud.

After a 1982 meeting with Stevie Wonder, in which the latter lamented the divide in capabilities and qualities between electronic synthesizers and traditional musical instruments, Kurzweil was inspired to create a new generation of music synthesizers capable of accurately duplicating the sounds of real instruments.

The recording and mixing abilities of the machine, coupled with its abilities to imitate different instruments, made it possible for a single user to compose and play an entire orchestral piece.

Kurzweil started Kurzweil Educational Systems in 1996 to develop new pattern-recognition-based computer technologies to help people with disabilities such as blindness, dyslexia and attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) in school.

Products include the Kurzweil 1000 text-to-speech converter software program, which enables a computer to read electronic and scanned text aloud to blind or visually impaired users, and the Kurzweil 3000 program, which is a multifaceted electronic learning system that helps with reading, writing, and study skills.

During this period he also started KurzweilAI.net, a website devoted towards showcasing news of scientific developments, publicizing the ideas of high-tech thinkers and critics alike, and promoting futurist-related discussion among the general population through the Mind-X forum.

In the event of his declared death, Kurzweil plans to be perfused with cryoprotectants, vitrified in liquid nitrogen, and stored at an Alcor facility in the hope that future medical technology will be able to repair his tissues and revive him.[29]

For the past several decades, Kurzweil's most effective and common approach to doing creative work has been conducted during his lucid dreamlike state which immediately precedes his awakening state.

The book's main idea is that high levels of fat intake are the cause of many health disorders common in the U.S., and thus that cutting fat consumption down to 10% of the total calories consumed would be optimal for most people.

In 1999, Kurzweil published The Age of Spiritual Machines, which further elucidates his theories regarding the future of technology, which themselves stem from his analysis of long-term trends in biological and technological evolution.

Part fiction, part non-fiction, he interviews 20 big thinkers like Marvin Minsky, plus there is a B-line narrative story that illustrates some of the ideas, where a computer avatar (Ramona) saves the world from self-replicating microscopic robots.

Premiered in 2009 at the Tribeca Film Festival, Transcendent Man documents Kurzweil's quest to reveal mankind's ultimate destiny and explores many of the ideas found in his New York Times bestselling book, The Singularity Is Near, including his concept exponential growth, radical life expansion, and how we will transcend our biology.

The feature-length documentary film The Singularity by independent filmmaker Doug Wolens (released at the end of 2012), showcasing Kurzweil, has been acclaimed as 'a large-scale achievement in its documentation of futurist and counter-futurist ideas” and “the best documentary on the Singularity to date.'[43]

In his 1999 book The Age of Spiritual Machines, Kurzweil proposed 'The Law of Accelerating Returns', according to which the rate of change in a wide variety of evolutionary systems (including the growth of technologies) tends to increase exponentially.[44]

He gave further focus to this issue in a 2001 essay entitled 'The Law of Accelerating Returns', which proposed an extension of Moore's law to a wide variety of technologies, and used this to argue in favor of Vernor Vinge's concept of a technological singularity.[45]

Kurzweil suggests that this exponential technological growth is counter-intuitive to the way our brains perceive the world—since our brains were biologically inherited from humans living in a world that was linear and local—and, as a consequence, he claims it has encouraged great skepticism in his future projections.

He suggested that the same technologies that are empowering us to reprogram biology away from cancer and heart disease could be used by a bioterrorist to reprogram a biological virus to be more deadly, communicable, and stealthy.

but argues that in practice, progress cannot be stopped because that would require a totalitarian system, and any attempt to do so would drive dangerous technologies underground and deprive responsible scientists of the tools needed for defense.

He stated, 'To avoid dangers such as unrestrained nanobot replication, we need relinquishment at the right level and to place our highest priority on the continuing advance of defensive technologies, staying ahead of destructive technologies.

An overall strategy should include a streamlined regulatory process, a global program of monitoring for unknown or evolving biological pathogens, temporary moratoriums, raising public awareness, international cooperation, software reconnaissance, and fostering values of liberty, tolerance, and respect for knowledge and diversity.'[47]

Kurzweil admits that he cared little for his health until age 35, when he was found to suffer from a glucose intolerance, an early form of type II diabetes (a major risk factor for heart disease).

Kurzweil then found a doctor (Terry Grossman, M.D.) who shares his somewhat unconventional beliefs to develop an extreme regimen involving hundreds of pills, chemical intravenous treatments, red wine, and various other methods to attempt to live longer.

Kurzweil was ingesting '250 supplements, eight to 10 glasses of alkaline water and 10 cups of green tea' every day and drinking several glasses of red wine a week in an effort to 'reprogram' his biochemistry.[48]

In his book The Singularity Is Near, he claimed that he brought his cholesterol level down from the high 200s to 130, raised his HDL (high-density lipoprotein) from below 30 to 55, and lowered his homocysteine from an unhealthy 11 to a much safer 6.2.

In a 2013 interview, he said that in 15 years, medical technology could add more than a year to one's remaining life expectancy for each year that passes, and we could then 'outrun our own deaths'.

He draws on the commonly accepted belief that the primary anatomical difference between humans and other primates that allowed for superior intellectual abilities was the evolution of a larger neocortex.

He says that at the low levels, the neocortex may seem cold and mechanical because it can only make simple decisions, but at the higher levels of the hierarchy, the neocortex is likely to be dealing with concepts like being funny, being sexy, expressing a loving sentiment, creating a poem or understanding a poem, etc.

He stated, 'If the quantitative improvement from primates to humans with the big forehead was the enabling factor to allow for language, technology, art, and science, what kind of qualitative leap can we make with another quantitative increase?

The University's self-described mission is to 'assemble, educate and inspire a cadre of leaders who strive to understand and facilitate the development of exponentially advancing technologies and apply, focus and guide these tools to address humanity's grand challenges'.

Building on Ithiel de Sola Pool's 'Technologies of Freedom' (1983), Kurzweil claims to have forecast the dissolution of the Soviet Union due to new technologies such as cellular phones and fax machines disempowering authoritarian governments by removing state control over the flow of information.[54]

In the book, Kurzweil also extrapolated preexisting trends in the improvement of computer chess software performance to predict that computers would beat the best human players 'by the year 2000'.[55]

He also stated that the Internet would explode not only in the number of users but in content as well, eventually granting users access 'to international networks of libraries, data bases, and information services'.

Additionally, Kurzweil claims to have correctly foreseen that the preferred mode of Internet access would inevitably be through wireless systems, and he was also correct to estimate that the latter would become practical for widespread use in the early 21st century.

Daniel Lyons, writing in Newsweek magazine, criticized Kurzweil for some of his predictions that turned out to be wrong, such as the economy continuing to boom from the 1998 dot-com through 2009, a US company having a market capitalization of more than $1 trillion, a supercomputer achieving 20 petaflops, speech recognition being in widespread use and cars that would drive themselves using sensors installed in highways;

To the charge that a 20 petaflop supercomputer was not produced in the time he predicted, Kurzweil responded that he considers Google a giant supercomputer, and that it is indeed capable of 20 petaflops.[59]

He says he is confident that within 10 years we will have the option to spend some of our time in 3D virtual environments that appear just as real as real reality, but these will not yet be made possible via direct interaction with our nervous system.

He believes that 20 to 25 years from now, we will have millions of blood-cell sized devices, known as nanobots, inside our bodies fighting against diseases, improving our memory, and cognitive abilities.

Kurzweil says that a machine will pass the Turing test by 2029, and that around 2045, 'the pace of change will be so astonishingly quick that we won't be able to keep up, unless we enhance our own intelligence by merging with the intelligent machines we are creating'.

Kurzweil states 'We humans are going to start linking with each other and become a metaconnection we will all be connected and all be omnipresent, plugged into this global network that is connected to billions of people, and filled with data.' [61]

Mitch Kapor, the founder of Lotus Development Corporation, has called the notion of a technological singularity 'intelligent design for the IQ 140 people...This proposition that we're heading to this point at which everything is going to be just unimaginably different—it's fundamentally, in my view, driven by a religious impulse.

Nordhaus supposes that the Singularity could arise from either the demand or supply side of a market economy, but for information technology to proceed at the kind of pace Kurzweil suggests, there would have to be significant productivity trade-offs.

Using a variety of econometric methods, Nordhaus runs six supply side tests and one demand side test to track the macroeconomic viability of such steep rises in information technology output.

Bio-inspired computing

Bio-inspired computing, short for biologically inspired computing, is a field of study that loosely knits together subfields related to the topics of connectionism, social behaviour and emergence.

For this reason, in neural network models, it is necessary to accurately model an in vivo network, by live collection of 'noise' coefficients that can be used to refine statistical inference and extrapolation as system complexity increases.[2]

Natural evolution is a good analogy to this method–the rules of evolution (selection, recombination/reproduction, mutation and more recently transposition) are in principle simple rules, yet over millions of years have produced remarkably complex organisms.

And the progress of brain science and neuroscience also provides the necessary basis for artificial intelligence to learn from the brain information processing mechanism.Brain and neuroscience researchers are also trying to apply the understanding of brain information processing to a wider range of science field.

Advances in brain and neuroscience, especially with the help of new technologies and new equipment, support researchers to obtain multi-scale, multi-type biological evidence of the brain through different experimental methods, and are trying to reveal the structure of bio-intelligence from different aspects and functional basis.

From the microscopic neurons, synaptic working mechanisms and their characteristics, to the mesoscopic network connection model, to the links in the macroscopic brain interval and their synergistic characteristics, the multi-scale structure and functional mechanisms of brains derived from these experimental and mechanistic studies will provide important inspiration for building a future brain-inspired computing model[3].

Obviously, the 'neuromorphic chip' is a brain-inspired chip that focuses on the design of the chip structure with reference to the human brain neuron model and its tissue structure, which represents a major direction of brain-inspired chip research.

Along with the rise and development of “brain plans” in various countries, a large number of research results on neuromorphic chips have emerged, which have received extensive international attention and are well known to the academic community and the industry.

In the future research of cognitive brain computing model, it is necessary to model the brain information processing system based on multi-scale brain neural system data analysis results, construct a brain-inspired multi-scale neural network computing model, and simulate multi-modality of brain in multi-scale.

The most basic computer system, such as storage and computational fusion, pulse discharge mechanism, the connection mechanism between neurons, etc., and the mechanism between different scale information processing units has not been integrated into the study of brain-inspired computing architecture.

Now an important international trend is to develop neural computing components such as brain memristors, memory containers, and sensory sensors based on new materials such as nanometers, thus supporting the construction of more complex brain-inspired computing architectures.

Artificial Intelligence and Collusion

For an analysis of the general issue, it is useful to start with the points where there is little disagreement among commentators and to later focus on those where there is greater debate.

As Kaplow points out, the theory of repeated games – also called supergames – analyzes the structural requirements of a coordinated equilibrium “without regard to whether there was an old-fashioned cartel, pure interdependence, or some other manner of interaction or communication”.58 Another point of consensus is that of the perceived prevalence of mere interdependent behavior.

In addition, and a point where many other commentators agree,61 an injunction on tacit price coordination would in practice establish a public utility type of regulation in which oligopolists are mandated to price at, or just slightly above, marginal cost.62 Turner finds this impracticable because, among other reasons, marginal cost is either theoretically indeterminate – as in the case of joint products – or practically indeterminate.63 The author argues that “something more in the way of ‘agreement’ must be shown” with evidence of an actual agreement, prior understanding or at least prior communications.64 Page, also in support of a narrower prohibition, argues that a broader rule which focuses on mere interdependent behavior would yield too many false positives.

According to the author, “[even] if rivals can achieve noncompetitive outcomes by purely tacit collusion, it does not follow that the law should condemn this conduct” because the administrability of rules limits the ability of the law to cover every instance of harm.65 Page puts forth a standard that covers something more than completed verbal agreements in which exchanges of mutual assurances have occurred.

The author defines illicit concerted conduct as private communications, written or oral, in which competitive intention and reliance is disclosed.66 The rule does not require that firms mutually assure each other that they will keep the agreed-upon prices, only that they privately disclose their intention to stick to a certain price and their decision to do so based on their reliance on what they expect their competitors to do.67 In addition, in order to reduce the probability of false positives, the proposed standard requires that the defendants act consistently with their statements.68 Such a rule, according to the author, would be in accordance with economic theory because it would target the most stable forms of price agreements.69 In other words, Page argues that communications make oligopoly pricing more stable.

This point is related to the fact that in a repeated Bertrand game, depending on the firms’ discount rate of future profits, any price between the competitive and the monopoly one can be an equilibrium.70 Game theory does not formalize the role of communications – or make it one of its assumptions – when firms choose a price within this range.

Kaplow argues that the problem of choosing a focal price can be solved by a process of tacit coordination.71 Page, for his part, argues that communications could play a role in eliminating the uncertainty over which the focal price will be chosen.72 His point is persuasive to the extent that the fact that the theory of supergames has little to say about communications can rather be seen as a weakness.

The fact that in markets that could be considered ripe for tacit coordination there are instances where firms still risk liability and use overt communications is an indicator that oligopolists are not indifferent to their benefits.73 With his proposed standard, Page attempts to give more concrete content to Turner’s formulation that something in the way of an agreement needs to be proved.

Page suggests as a first approximation the existence of complex facilitating practices, which can only be achieved by overt communications and thus the existence of the former should be enough to infer the latter.74 If markets are prone to tacit coordination, then the marginal benefit of complex facilitating practices diminishes and firms would in theory avoid them due to the risk of liability.

Regarding equilibrium analysis, according to the author, game theory does not postulate that the steady-state price depends on whether firms have been able to communicate in a verbal or written manner.76 For theoretical purposes, such explicit exchanges could be considered cheap talk if the firms still have an incentive to deviate from the joint profit-maximizing price.

Such incentives do not hinge on whether there have been private communications.77 The author argues that if one wants to ground the regulation on economics, then one should look at our current understanding of the theory of repeated games.78 As Kaplow points out, the theory requires only that the firms know their payoffs and the likely reactions of their competitors when deciding which strategy to pursue.

This is because if one defines prohibited communications with a functional criterion – as opposed to a formal one – for example, as exchanges that enable successful collusion, then mere price signals would necessarily fall within the definition.82 Fixed definitions of what constitutes a prohibited form of communication are also problematic because of the high substitutability of forms of communication.83 An extreme example provided by Kaplow is that if what is prohibited is the private character of the exchange, then the only thing that firms need to do is to carry out a public press conference.

Humans Need Not Apply

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