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View Full Version : "Transcendent Man" and The Singularity



benbradley
06-02-2009, 06:27 AM
Maybe this could go in Movies and TV, but...

I was recently directed to this article "The Coming Superbrain:"
http://www.nytimes.com/2009/05/24/weekinreview/24markoff.html?_r=3&em
It's about the future of Artificial Intelligence (which if you compare past predictions to what really happened, it's been a dismal failure), and mentions Vinge's Singularity article, then mentions a new movie, "Transcendent Man" with a link to the trailer (profiling Ray Kurzweil and starring William Shatner, Stevie Wonder, surely other big names I didn't recognize in the trailer):

Profiled in the documentary “Transcendent Man,” (http://transcendentman.com/) which had its premier last month at the TriBeCa Film Festival, and with his own Singularity movie due later this year, Dr. Kurzweil has become a one-man marketing machine for the concept of post-humanism.

I've been following Kurzweil for a few decades (since his musical keyboards), and the Stevie Wonder connection goes back even further. I first hear of him when his digital piano keyboards came out - he had invented a "reader" - a device you put a book under, it reads it with a video camera which then goes to a computer which reads and SPEAKS the words. This is within reach of anyone with a personal computer today, but this was, IIRC, in the 1970's. Stevie Wonder was an early customer (Kurzweil was demonstrating his first prototype on the Today Show, and Stevie Wonder, having "seen" the show, contacted Kurzweil to buy the prototype!), and said to him "What I really need is a musical keyboard that..." and thus came Kurzweil electronic keyboards with the best piano sound of the time.

But he's certainly an interesting character, even if you think he and Verner Vinge are full of it with that "singularity" idea.

Izz
06-02-2009, 08:44 AM
Kewl. I have nothing more to say at this point, so i'll say that again.

Kewl.

mario_c
06-08-2009, 01:55 AM
I find him terribly interesting, but at the same time I find the future he describes a little alarming. Machines with human capacity (for destruction and exploiting the weak)?Living forever (a slave to the pharmaceutical industry)? Our world, and how business and culture works around us, changing every year, or every week? You think our financial purge now is scary...

Anyway, great trailer. I'll be first in line - if in fact it plays in my state, where our perception of the world stopped changing in the 50s.

Hang of Thursdays
07-03-2009, 12:16 AM
I actually read this guy's book, The Fantastic Voyage, and didn't know it was the Kurzweil of keyboard fame. That's cool.

The book, btw, is pretty interesting, about how one might go about living until the Singularity. It's heavy (so heavy) on supporting evidence and claims that it's hard to get your head around it, and might, in fact, be a load of hooey -- lots of tofu and seaweed diets and hormone replacement therapies that kinda make you go: hmm...

benbradley
07-03-2009, 02:31 AM
I actually read this guy's book, The Fantastic Voyage, and didn't know it was the Kurzweil of keyboard fame. That's cool.

The book, btw, is pretty interesting, about how one might go about living until the Singularity. It's heavy (so heavy) on supporting evidence and claims that it's hard to get your head around it, and might, in fact, be a load of hooey -- lots of tofu and seaweed diets and hormone replacement therapies that kinda make you go: hmm...
He's certainly an "extremist" (though I mean that in the most endearing way). In "Fantastic Voyage" he talks about the "First Bridge" stuff (basically the limits of current knowledge on health and life extension) "second bridge" (IIRC, predicted biological advances) and "third bridge" (long-term computer advances and "uploading" one's mind to a computer, for a theoretically infinite lifetime) stuff. His "Ten Percent Solution" book ("The 10% Solution for a Healthy Life: How to Reduce Fat in Your Diet and Eliminate Virtually All Risk of Heart Disease and Cancer") is from 1992 and basically covers the "first bridge" stuff, and has a chapter on CRON (Caloric Reduction with Optimal Nutrition). The Bible of CRON is "Beyond The 120 Year Diet" by Roy Walford - it's quite dense, chock full of observations and references to diet studies from mice to people, and I find it convincing (well, intellectually anyway - I'm only partially successful in following it). I highly recommend it if you want to know the "why" of caloric reduction and the other diet suggestions.

Kurzweil's latest is "Transcend: Nine Steps to Living Well Forever" which appears to be the latest on the "First Bridge" stuff from "Fantastic Voyage." I haven't read it but the review by Bob Blum comparing it to "Fantastic Voyage" is most interesting:
http://www.amazon.com/Transcend-Nine-Steps-Living-Forever/dp/1605299561

Kitty Pryde
07-03-2009, 03:31 AM
I don't go in that much for Kurzweil, though I do appreciate his fanatical futurism, and I don't think that my own future predictions would be any better. As far as science fiction goes, I like the Vinge and Rucker (http://www.rudyrucker.com/postsingular/postsingular.htm) singularities more than the Kurzweil version.

benbradley
09-14-2009, 09:25 AM
Bumping this thread - the producer/director has tweeted (http://twitter.com/TranscendentMan) that "We're looking to release it first in select theaters early 2010 then it will go to VOD, DVD, Netflix, etc."
Meanwhile, Kurzweil's own movie named after his book (and his cardboard sign in my avatar) "The Singularity Is Near" is expected in theaters in late 2009:
http://singularity.com/themovie/

I've just run across yet ANOTHER film on the Singularity and about Kurzweil:
http://www.thesingularityfilm.com/

benbradley
09-14-2009, 08:56 PM
I haven't done my Due Dilligence research - this story is a month old!
http://singularityhub.com/2009/08/13/four-singularity-movies-the-world-wants-the-future/

With four films coming out less than a year apart, itís a pretty cool time to be interested in the future and the growth of intelligence. Thatís right, four movies on the Singularity! In a yearís span. Itís kind of nuts:... All four movies have the same general topic and largely similar casts of characters, but each views the future through a different lens. Not very comforting for those curious about the potentially greatest change humanity may ever face.
I sure hope these movies come out BEFORE the singularity happens ... they'll sure be boring afterward (or laughable - "people thought the future would look like that?!?").

Kitty Pryde
09-14-2009, 09:17 PM
When I was twelve years old or so, I found this amazing nonfiction book called "Great Mambo Chicken and the Transhuman Condition" by Ed Regis. It's (partly) about transhumanism, though it was written before anyone started using the word 'singularity' to talk about the technological singularity.

Anybody else read it? It's one of those books that somewhat exploded my brain as a kid. Lots of crazy stuff about dyson spheres, chickens raised to survive in high gravity, and turning ourselves into energy beams and zapping us off to the cosmos. It's all about actual scientists who hope to do this stuff, not just speculating spec-fic writers.

Zoombie
10-05-2009, 12:56 PM
This stuff is so cool!

Me, I'm just crossing my fingers and hoping really hard I survive to the singularity, while working as hard as I can to make sure its one of the nice ones. That is, I'd rather us not become slaves to a machine Over-Mind...