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Ray Kurzweil Wants to Upload Your Brain to the Cloud

I don’t think I’ll be sent to another Ray Kurzweil talk. And I am not going to merge my brain with the cloud though, if I am still around when people start doing that.
Jul 9th, 2022 3:00am by
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I had no idea who Ray Kurzweil, the famed futurist, was before his keynote closing out MongoDB World 2022 but I will never forget him.

Kurzweil earned his tech creds in the 1970s when he led development of the first optical character recognition system that could read multiple fonts, groundbreaking work eventually sold to Xerox. In the 1980s, after a meeting with Stevie Wonder, he pioneered a synthesizer that could mimic real instruments. But he is most famous today for coining the idea of “the singularity,” a time in the supposed near future where machine intelligence will surpass all human intelligence, thanks to the exponentially accelerated growth of technology.

Much of the keynote was informative. To be fair, I will share some of the positives first. He spoke of simulated biology and how simulating the human body aided in fast tracking the Moderna vaccine. He also discussed protein folding and DeepMind can view the linear sequence based of amino acids based on its DNA in a straight line as well as bend the fold of this proteins. As predictions can be made, new pharmaceuticals can be created. All great.

He also spoke on nanotechnology. This is when nanorobots, robots the size of cells, enter the body and perform the functions of most of the vital organs except for the heart and brain. Kurzweil explained that all organs except for the heart and brain essentially, “put things into the blood or take them out.” The lungs for example put in oxygen and take out carbon dioxide.

“We’ll be funnier, sexier, smarter, and more creative.” — Ray Kurzweil on the benefits of nanotechnology.

And what about the brain you may be asking? Well, have you ever had too many items in your hands and thought, aw geez if only I could implant one of these into my brain? This is where you can determine if we’re going to stay together or have a difference of opinion. I, someone who is actively working on limiting my phone time, never thought, let me merge my brain with the cloud. But, from the amount of applause in the auditorium, I was likely alone in that opinion.

Ray Kurzweil wants to merge his brain with the cloud. He said of his phone, “But it’s a little clunky, you can’t quite deal with it as well as you can deal with your brain. Ultimately we’ll go directly from our brain to the cloud. And ultimately it will provide much more capability than our brain does by itself. Most of it will be taken over by the cloud.”

And that will be another way to use nanotechnology. Kurzweil, then letting us know of his personal wishes, explains, “We’ll be funnier, sexier, smarter, and more creative.”

Well, this can go one of two ways. Either this brain/cloud situation will be an incredibly beneficial superpower, or it could be just another farming device for data mining and ad sales. My take: If it’s a beneficial superpower then it won’t be given to the general public. Superpower for the rich. Farming device for the regular people.

And thank you very much but I am farmed enough. My Hinge updates don’t need to be sent to my cerebellum. I can’t talk about taking a trip to Costa Rica without flights popping up on my phone.

I’m grateful for the ways technology has touched my life but let me remind people about the Flo app. This is a period and fertility tracking app that settled with the FTC in May for selling its users’ personal health data without their knowledge.

While there are definitely huge potential advances that could be made from brain/cloud merges, I can only think of social media companies that are designed to addict us, with at least one of these apps in the recent past tracking our eye movements to see what we liked so we could be coaxed to spend more time using it. It’s not all bad but I am not looking to plug in forever. And I don’t trust these companies to do good.

Retro-Futurism

I think something that causes the most alarm for me is how out-of-touch Kurzweil is with society at large. For someone who calls himself a futurist, he lives in a very narrow present. Then again, people with his net worth generally do. It was his general outlook on the state of affairs that was most concerning.

If I needed further proof that him being behind the times, it came in this statement, “People are pessimistic about the future. They don’t want to bring kids into the world because they see it as worse than ever before. That has to do with the nature of human reaction. That isn’t reality. People think things are getting worse but they’re actually getting better.”  He goes on to say one thing we do agree on about how the 24-hour news cycle is pretty bad on the spirit.

I agree. But that isn’t why people think things are terrible. It’s because things are terrible.

His proof for things getting better came in this statement, “24,000 people were asked have extreme poverty gotten better or worse 70% said it got worse. 70% thought it got worse. 1% thought it decreased. And the reality is that it decreased by 50%.”

That was really frustrating to hear from a man worth $30 million dollars who is not qualified to speak on such issues and should have just continued talking about putting phones in brains.

The US Poverty Guideline in 2022 is $13,590 for a single person and gallon of gas is north of $5. If these numbers are going to be arbitrarily low and not accurately reflect what actual poverty is then those statistics don’t matter. And people that rich know that. It’s gaslighting.

I don’t think I’ll be sent to another Ray Kurzweil talk. And I am not going to merge my brain with the cloud. If I am still around when people start doing that, I would be interested in seeing if this superpower will be used for data mining the masses, or to power superpowers for the already ultra-wealthy.

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