Human civilization to end by 2045?

on February 11 2011 6:41 AM

The human civilization - as we know it - will come to an end by 2045, inventor/futurist Ray Kurzweil told TIME in a recent interview.

Kurzweil believes that we're approaching a moment when computers will become intelligent, and not just intelligent but more intelligent than humans. When that happens, humanity - our bodies, our minds, our civilization - will be completely and irreversibly transformed. He believes that this moment is not only inevitable but imminent. According to his calculations, the end of human civilization as we know it is about 35 years away, the magazine reported.

The Singularity, once seen as a fringe topic of discussion in science, has been defined by writer Lev Grossman as, The moment when technological change becomes so rapid and profound, it represents a rupture in the fabric of human history.

Grossman's cover story centers around the media-shy Kurzweil, who holds 39 patents and 19 honorary doctorates. According to Kurzweil's calculations, the end of human civilization as we know it is about 35 years away.

We will successfully reverse-engineer the human brain by the mid-2020s. By the end of that decade, computers will be capable of human-level intelligence. Kurzweil puts the date of the Singularity - never say he's not conservative - at 2045. In that year, he estimates, given the vast increases in computing power and the vast reductions in the cost of same, the quantity of artificial intelligence created will be about a billion times the sum of all the human intelligence that exists today, he was quoted as saying to TIME.

There are people who can accept computers being more intelligent than people, he says. But the idea of significant changes to human longevity - that seems to be particularly controversial. People invested a lot of personal effort into certain philosophies dealing with the issue of life and death. I mean, that's the major reason we have religion. 

On asked whether computers can replicate the biochemical complexity of an organic brain?

Kurzweil says, he does not see any fundamental difference between flesh and silicon that would prevent the latter from thinking.

In future, biotechnology and nanotechnology give us the power to manipulate our bodies and the world around us at will, at the molecular level, Kurzweil said in the interview.

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