Ray Kurzweil has been consistent over the years: he has these contrived graphs full of fudged data that tell him that The Singularity will arrive in 2029. 2029 is the magic date. We all just have to hang in there for 12 more years and then presto, immortality, incomprehensible wisdom, the human race rises to a new plane of existence.
2029 is getting kind of close. The Fudgening has begun!
The new date is 2045. No Rapture of the Nerds until I’m 88 years old. So disappoint.
Kurzweil continues to share his visions for the future, and his latest prediction was made at the most recent SXSW Conference, where he claimed that the Singularity – the moment when technology becomes smarter than humans – will happen by 2045.
Typical. You’ve got a specific prediction, you can see that it’s not coming true, so you start adjusting the details, maybe you change your mind on a few things (but it’s OK if you do it in advance, that way it doesn’t count against you), and you do everything you can to keep your accuracy score up, to fool the gullible.
Yeah, he’s got a score. 86%.
With a little wiggle room given to the timelines the author, inventor, computer scientist, futurist, and director of engineering at Google provides, a full 86 percent of his predictions – including the fall of the Soviet Union, the growth of the internet, and the ability of computers to beat humans at chess – have come to fruition.
Do any of those things count as surprising predictions in any way? They all sound rather mundane to me. The world is going to get warmer, there will be wars, we’ll have substantial economic ups and downs, some famous people will die, some notorious regimes will collapse, oceans rise, empires fall. Generalities do not impress me as indicative of deep insight.
Furthermore, that number is suspicious: you wouldn’t want to say 100%, because nobody would believe that. And you don’t want to say anything near 50%, because that sounds too close to chance. So you pick a number in between…say, somewhere between 75% and 90%. Wait, where did I get that range? That’s what psychics claim.
So, how accurate are psychics on an average? There are very few psychics who are 99% accurate in their predictions. The range in accuracy for the majority of real psychic readings are between 75% and 90%.
He’s using the standard tricks of the con man, ones that skeptics are supposed to be able to recognize and deal with. So how has Kurzweil managed to bamboozle so many people in the tech community?
I’m going to guess that being predisposed to libertarian fantasies and being blinded by your own privilege tends not to make one very skeptical or self-aware. Either that, or Kurzweil is very, very good at fooling people. I’m going to go with the former.