[ExI] Fwd: [tt] reddit on Shortwhile

Kelly Anderson kellycoinguy at gmail.com
Tue Mar 22 04:24:35 UTC 2011

Most of the posters at reddit, as well as most of the people on this
list seem to have a poor opinion of Kurzweil. I have a rather positive
opinion of Kurzweil. Perhaps it comes from the fact that I've had
interest in the same little corner of the world for over thirty years.
My Master's Thesis (which should have been published around 1993)
would have been entitled "Character Recognition in the Context of
Forms". I've known about Ray's work (particularly in the area of
character recognition) since way before he wrote his first book.

I have read all of Ray's books, cover to cover, except for some of the
health books, and I'm trying to work through those. I have read The
Singularity is Near including all of the appendices and footnotes.

What TSIN tells me is that overlaid on top of the chaos that is the
evolution of intelligence, there is a trend that can be measured and
predicted, even if the contributing components can not be predicted.
This is classic chaos theory. I can't tell you where every molecule of
water in a dam will go when the dam breaks, but you can be sure that
the town downstream is going to be wiped out. When people say Moore's
Law has run out of gas, that doesn't change what Ray is saying one

The "scientist" that Ray most reminds me of is Carl Sagan. Carl and
Ray both have the ability to take fairly technical science, and make a
version of it available to the masses... but neither is famous for
winning a Nobel prize or anything. They are just working class
scientists with a gift for communication.

Ray's view of the future is optimistic. There is no question about it.
Is it overly optimistic? Yes, in some ways it clearly is. Particularly
when applied to things he is involved with. The prediction that he got
MOST wrong imho in 2010 is that most text will be created with voice
recognition software. He was right about the state of the art of the
technology, he was wrong about its adoption rate. I think that's
because Ray, like most of us, think that what we're working on is more
important than it actually is.

Bill Joy does agree with Ray Kurzweil on the basic trends and the
approximate speed. He just thinks it's all going to hell because
something will go wrong with technology that we don't have sufficient
control over. Bill has a point. Ray acknowledges the challenges Bill
brings up, but argues that we will come up with effective
countermeasures if we work at it.

I do wish Ray weren't so damned defensive. I think that undermines his
credibility in other areas. It will be interesting to see the effect
if Ray's movie ever gets a wide screening.


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