Spare me the Kurzweil acolytes.
Google’s chief futurist, Ray Kurzweil, is known for his wildly-accurate predictions — back in the 1980s, when all of our current technological advancements seemed like sci-fi fantasies, he predicted self-driving cars, prosthetic legs for paraplegics, and wirelessly accessing information via the internet, among many other spot-on forecasts.
Now, his latest prediction is that humans are going to live forever, and he thinks it’s going to happen as soon as 2029.
He’s like the Amazing Criswell, isn’t he?
I lived through the 1980s, too, and those predictions were so mundane I could have made them. That’s the thing: he says a lot of trivial stuff that is already accepted knowledge (“Computers will get faster! Medicine will treat diseases in new ways! I will get older!”) that allows him to build a baseline of success that encourages people to think his other, wilder predictions will also come true. They won’t. Like Criswell, he says a lot of vague bunk, and his failures are just ignored…like those of any common ‘psychic’.
His prediction that we’ll live forever if we can just make it to 2029 are simply laughable. Modern medicine shows no such trend at work. The basis for his claim is aburd:
“By the 2020s we’ll start using nanobots to complete the job of the immune system,” he said. “Our immune system is great, but it evolved thousands of years ago when conditions were different.”
thousands of years ago? What did our ancestors do a hundred thousand years ago?
He believes that nanobots — microscopic, self-propelled robots — will act as T cells, which are blood cells involved in our immune responses. Using T cells to attack cancer cells is already an idea that researchers are using in some cancer immunotherapy, but Kurzweil wants to take it a step further. Instead of harnessing the body’s own T cells, he wants to send in nanobots to do the job.
“They’re the size of a blood cell and are quite intelligent,” he told Hochman. “I actually watched one of my T cells attack bacteria on a microscope slide. We could have one programmed to deal with all pathogens and could download new software from the internet if a new type of enemy such as a new biological virus emerged.”
That is painfully naive. Does he even realize that there are multiple kinds of T cells, that they are part of an integrated network of cooperating cells, that they have to carry out a delicate balancing act of working against some antigens while not triggering on others? He seems to be imagining sending in a robot with a laser to kill ‘bad’ cells.
Plus, his tiny nanobots are going to be ‘programmed’ (how?) to deal with ‘all pathogens’ (is there a list somewhere?) and can ‘download new software from the internet’. The ignorance just makes me want to cry. But this is his schtick: he just borrows terms and ideas current in the culture right now, and claims we’ll be doing exactly the same thing, only with another tech buzzword, ‘nanobots’. He’s an idiot. He’s a clever idiot, though, who has fooled a lot of gullible people, and has even bamboozled Google.
He also claims this:
Kurzweil is 67 years old, but claims his “biological age” is in the late 40s, courtesy of his “Immortality Diet.”
Nope. He looks his age, just as I do. He’s had the advantage of the privileged life of a well-off office worker, which does help stave off the worst ravages, the product of a hard life, but there’s nothing especially young about his appearance. He looks to be of an age with Richard Dawkins, for instance, who is 75.
But then, religious leaders do get that kind of praise from their followers, no matter how decrepit they get. I’ve been in a room full of young Mormon women telling me how youthful and virile and sexy Ezra Taft Benson was…when he was in his 90s, feeble and vacant, and doomed to die a few years later. Same thing.