Posted: Fri, November 23, 2012 | By: Singularity Utopia
“Utopia” was a dirty word when I started blogging about the Singularity in 2010, it was almost shameful to consider technology creating utopia. I focused on utopia because to my mind utopia would be an inevitable consequence of technology but our approach towards utopia was a neglected issue. Utopia seemed to be a logical and inescapable conclusion. To counter unawareness I entered the fray.
Now in late 2012 awareness seems to be growing regarding how utopia is truly possible. I noticed a couple of articles recently publicizing the idea of utopia and Post-Scarcity. Shame regarding the realization of total happiness via technology is diminishing. People are beginning to appreciate the logic of utopia. I am becoming aware of other people who share my utopian view.
For posterity it is important to note how Ray Kurzweil initially opposed the idea of utopia, and perhaps he continues to oppose utopia, but I think he is gradually changing his mind. Ray Kurzweil is admittedly optimistic but he clearly hasn’t grasped the inevitability of utopia. Ray can change his mind, or if he can’t change he could perhaps create a better mind.
People often think I’m merely a follower of Ray Kurzweil but on the contrary there are various points where Ray fails to competently address the future we are heading towards, so on the whole despite Ray being a clear influence I’d say I oppose more than support Ray’s view of the future. Here are five points where Ray Kurzweil states he is not utopian, he thinks technological-utopia is impossible.
1. 12th November 2004. Via the American Foundation for the Blind, Ray Kurzweil was interviewed by Tony Candela, at Wellesley Hills, Massachusetts. The source is: An Oral History Interview with Ray Kurzweil. When Tony asked Ray if he is a utopian idealist, regarding the Singularity, Ray clearly explained how he is not utopian, furthermore he stated the Singularity is not a utopian vision:
“I’m not a utopian and it’s not a utopian vision. In fact, I’ve talked a lot about the intertwined promise and peril of technologies. It empowers our creative side, it also empowers our destructive side.”
2. 1st October 2009. Ray was interviewed by Computerworld for an article titled Nanotech could make humans immortal by 2040, futurist says. Ray clearly dismisses the idea of technology entailing utopia. In the interview Ray said:
“Technology is not a utopia. It’s a double-edged sword and always has been since we first had fire.”
3. 23rd April 2012. Via Ray’s own site KurzweilAI, it is stated Ray vision is not utopian. Clearly Ray’s mind has not changed thus perhaps it is premature to suggest Ray is starting to appreciate how utopia is inevitable.Utopia is the logical conclusion of advanced technology but Ray does not see this. On this occasion, regarding the article on KurzweilAI, Ray was interviewed on 15th April 2012, by Carver Wilcox, Anthony Batt, and Kashy Khaled, for the Katalyst Network:
“My vision is not a utopian one. Fire cooked our food and kept us warm but it also burned down our villages, so these technologies are double-edged swords.”
4. 30th December 2009. H+ Magazine authors Surfdaddy Orca and R.U. Sirus published an interview with Ray Kurzweil. The article, titled “Ray Kurzweil: The H+ Interview,” is another example of Ray refusing to appreciate how technology can create utopia. Ray said:
“My vision is not a utopian one. For example, Iím working with the U.S. Army on developing a rapid response system for biological viruses, and that’s actually the approach that I advocate - that we need to put resources and attention to the downsides.”
5. 23rd December 2005. Ray was interviewed via NPR, for a show titled “Ray Kurzweil: Life in the Future.” This is a good example of how Ray fails to account for scarcity being the source of all conflict. Ray appears to be unaware of how Post-Scarcity will end all violence in the not too distant future. In the words of Peter Diamandis, Ray fails to account for how “technology is sort of a scarcity liberating process.” Ray presents his anti-utopian theme:
“Well, actually my vision is not a utopian one. I think we will have the means of overcoming poverty, meeting our energy needs, cleaning up the environment. But these new technologies actually can be used for destruction, also. I mean, take biotechnology, genetic technology. We are gaining the means, you know, and will ultimately have the means of overcoming disease, you know, presumably a good thing. But it has also empowered bioterrorists to take a biological virus and modify it and create something that could be a destructive weapon, so that there is this intertwined promise versus peril.”
Perhaps indicating a change in Ray’s thinking, or maybe Ray’s logic is merely malformed thus he contradicts himself, Ray seemed to demonstrate in March 2012 how all violence would be obsolete in the future, thus there would be no utilization of technology for destructive purposes. Via Ray’s own words we can see utopia is actually possible: “I’ve actually grown up with a history of scarcity - and wars and conflict come from scarcity - but information is quite the opposite of that.”
Information is the opposite of scarcity and everything is becoming information technology, which is notable in 3D-printing or bioinformatics, furthermore Ray has stated “biology is now an information technology,” so what’s the rationale for Ray’s anti-utopian viewpoint? How can Ray fear the existence of “bioterrorists” in our Post-Scarcity future? This seems illogical. Ray is correct when he states wars and conflict come from scarcity, and he is correct when he states information is the opposite of scarcity, and he is correct to say biology is now info-technology. Following this train of logic it would be sensible if Ray stated utopia is inevitable but his views have been anti-utopian. For some inexplicable reason Ray fears bioterrorists.
Perhaps Ray dismisses the idea of utopia due to misplaced diplomatic acquiescence. Maybe his anti-utopian views are based on foolish diplomatic concessions to pessimism, but this needs to change because awareness regarding our utopian future can ease a lot of suffering now. Concealing the truth regarding our future, for the sake of pessimists, can be damaging because unjustly negative perceptions are created regarding a future of “bioterrorists.” The future will be an world of perfect happiness. We have a reason for immense hope. We need Ray to correct his flawed anti-utopian viewpoint. If super-intelligence canít create utopia it will be a very lame type of oxymoronic intelligence. Utopia is a wild concept but the Singularity is singular therefore we shouldnít be ashamed of wildness, if utopia is the truth.