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Humanity's EndWhy We Should Reject Radical Enhancement$
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Nicholas Agar

Print publication date: 2010

Print ISBN-13: 9780262014625

Published to MIT Press Scholarship Online: August 2013

DOI: 10.7551/mitpress/9780262014625.001.0001

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The Technologist—Ray Kurzweil and the Law of Accelerating Returns

The Technologist—Ray Kurzweil and the Law of Accelerating Returns

(p.35) 3 The Technologist—Ray Kurzweil and the Law of Accelerating Returns
Humanity's End

Nicholas Agar

The MIT Press

This chapter describes Kurzweil’s prediction tool, the law of accelerating returns, which applies to all technologies. Kurzweil combines several lucrative computing patents with a knack for predicting developments in artificial intelligence. On his list of successful forecasts are a variety of military applications of computers, the dramatic expansion of the Internet, and the victories of computers over the world’s best human chess players. The chief interest here, however, is the role that the law of accelerating returns could play in furnishing the knowledge necessary to upload humans into machines. The chapter examines a number of obstacles on the road to uploading presented by science writer John Horgan. It concludes with an assessment of Kurzweil’s assertion that uploading ourselves into machines is compatible with our humanity, putting forth the view that it is possible for us to become nonbiological human beings.

Keywords:   accelerating returns, Kurzweil’s prediction tool, computing patents, artificial intelligence, machines, John Horgan, humanity, nonbiological human beings

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