Kurzweil is a well-published, 65-year-old futurist at Google who intends to live forever. He's not so much a quack as he is a quasi-scientist who recently told the Wall Street Journal about his plan. And how the rest of us can get in on it.
Kurzweill has written extensively about his belief that in time man and computer will become one. His latest belief is that in the next 15 years medical technology will be adding another year to our lives every new year of R&D. Apparently he calculates that by the time he hits 80, there will be enough technology available to keep him alive indefinitely.
Hollywood actress Bette Davis famously disagreed when she said at 80, "Getting old ain't for sissies!" I concur. By 80 there are more body parts to go wrong than you ever suspected you had. Even with his 150 pills a day, I have scant reason to believe Kurzweill's body parts are any more indestructible than those which were handed out to the rest of us 7 billion human machines.
Kurzweill's vision is far from original. Shamans and witch doctors of all stripes have been around to promise us immortality. One of the current fads is cryogenics. Freezing the body long enough to bring it back in some future when medical technology has found the secrets to longevity. However, to date this science has found few takers. Anyone in his 80s has to consider the as yet unanswered question: Who wants to outlive the world, the family and the friends you grew up with?
Maybe the Bible's wispy talk of four-score-and-ten is a pretty good average to shoot for. Anything less is a disappointment, anything more is a gift. Trouble is, while the Kurzweill's of the world focus on body parts, the statistics focus on a very different part of the story: The mind. As our world's population continues to age, the burdens of dementia continue to grow apace.
Look, Ray, I understand you're now Google's new Director of Engineering. Great. Do you think you could engineer something for me? No, not immortality. Just a better pair of knees so I can get out of bed in the morning...!
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