Ray Kurzweil Explores the Next Phase of Virtual Reality
Futurist Ray Kurzweil assesses the current state of virtual reality before predicting how everything will change in the coming decades.
Raymond "Ray" Kurzweil (born 1948) is an American inventor and futurist. He is involved in fields as diverse as optical character recognition (OCR), text-to-speech synthesis, speech recognition technology, and electronic keyboard instruments. He is the author of several books on health, artificial intelligence (AI), transhumanism, the technological singularity, and futurism.
He has received nineteen honorary Doctorates and honors from three U.S. presidents.
Ray has written six books, four of which have been national best sellers. The Age of Spiritual Machines has been translated into 9 languages and was the #1 best selling book on Amazon in science. Ray’s latest book, The Singularity is Near, was a New York Times best seller, and has been the #1 book on Amazon in both science and philosophy.
Question: How will next-gen virtual reality change our lives?
Ray Kurzweil: Well, start from today we have virtual world like Second Life. It’s flat, it’s on the little screen over here, it’s kind of cartoon like. Despite that, the fact that it’s not very realistic yet, we see harbingers of everything we do in real life from runs on banks to virtual romances to virtual concerts and all kinds of activities that we do in real life and in fact from people who have been on Second Life just for the past years, they’ve seen a substantial increase in the realism of that virtual world.
The next step is we’re going to put it in our eyeglasses, it’ll be memory images right to a retina and put us in a three dimensional full immersion visual auditory environment so rather being in here it’ll be three dimensional and all of three dimensional out there will be in this three dimensional environment and will be able to walk around and we’re like, to feel like we’ll be able to look at ourselves but wouldn’t necessarily have the same body that we have in real reality and it’ll become more and moiré realistic, go out 10 years it’s going to be just about as realistic as real reality.
Still not within the nervous system, you got 20 years, 25 years, these nanobots, these blood cell size devices will be going in our bodies keeping us healthy from inside. We’ll have some go inside our brains to the capillaries not invasively, there would be interacting with our biological neurons so it’ll extends our memory, our decision making faculties, put our brains on the internet and they also enable us to enter virtual reality environment from within the nervous system.
So, for on to go in the virtual reality environment, the nanobots will shut down the signals coming from I realize in my real skin and create the signals that will be appropriate for the virtual environment and that will feel like I’m in that environment and I’ll have a virtual body and those environment could be the same body I have in real reality, it could be a different body, a couple could become each other, experience relationship from the others perspective, teacher could design a student to become Ben Franklin in the virtual constitutional congress not just dress up as him but become that character and this virtual environments would be like websites, you’ll have millions to choose from and some will be recreations are beautiful earthly environments like the Taj Mahal or the Mediterranean Beach.
Some of the fantastic imaginary environments that couldn’t exist on earth and these are not just sort of places to play although we’ll do that as well but these would be places to interact with other people and it will be an extension of real reality just the Second Life is today and for some people it’s a game, for some people it’s quite serious, it’s a place to be and this place to be, a virtual reality will become more and more realistic, more and more full immersion, more and more detailed and more and more imaginative.
Question: Could artificial intelligence happen even faster than we think?
Ray Kurzweil: I think IBM involvement with the game Jeopardy is just one more example among many the intelligent things that computers can do. I predicted in the 80’s that computer would beat the world chess champion by 1998, it happened in 1997, that seems ridiculous when I made the prediction. As soon as it happened, people dismiss it out with chess is not such a big deal after all but computers will never play Go because that’s really requires intelligence. Well, now computers can beat masters at Go and we don’t think that’s such a big deal.
There’s actually hundreds of intelligent things that computers can do and they are not only games, that in fact part of our modern everyday infrastructure, financial transactions, detecting chronic card frauds, designing products, diagnosing electric cardiograms, guiding intelligent weapon system, flying and landing airplanes, I mean, I can mention a hundred applications that are part of everyday life, with computers are doing things that used to require human intelligence.
Now, these are all examples of narrow way eye, meaning it’s some narrow task but the narrowness is gradually getting broader and it’s being driven by exponential growth and understanding of the human brain and that’s really the grand frontier now in being able to create intelligent machines or we’re making exponential progress in that.
Recorded April 27, 2009
Futurist Ray Kurzweil assesses the current state of virtual reality. He then predicts how virtual reality, nanotechnology, and artificial intelligence will evolve in 5, 10, and 25 years. In the near future we'll experience virtual worlds produced before our eyes on special eyeglasses. In a few decades, nanobots within our body will be able to alter consciousness to produce virtual environments. These innovations will at first be seen as novel modes of recreation but will soon serve as important educational tools.
If you want to know what makes a Canadian lynx a Canadian lynx a team of DNA sequencers has figured that out.
- A team at UMass Amherst recently sequenced the genome of the Canadian lynx.
- It's part of a project intending to sequence the genome of every vertebrate in the world.
- Conservationists interested in the Canadian lynx have a new tool to work with.
If you want to know what makes a Canadian lynx a Canadian lynx, I can now—as of this month—point you directly to the DNA of a Canadian lynx, and say, "That's what makes a lynx a lynx." The genome was sequenced by a team at UMass Amherst, and it's one of 15 animals whose genomes have been sequenced by the Vertebrate Genomes Project, whose stated goal is to sequence the genome of all 66,000 vertebrate species in the world.
Sequencing the genome of a particular species of an animal is important in terms of preserving genetic diversity. Future generations don't necessarily have to worry about our memory of the Canadian Lynx warping the way hearsay warped perception a long time ago.
Artwork: Guillaume le Clerc / Wikimedia Commons
13th-century fantastical depiction of an elephant.
It is easy to see how one can look at 66,000 genomic sequences stored away as being the analogous equivalent of the Svalbard Global Seed Vault. It is a potential tool for future conservationists.
But what are the practicalities of sequencing the genome of a lynx beyond engaging with broad bioethical questions? As the animal's habitat shrinks and Earth warms, the Canadian lynx is demonstrating less genetic diversity. Cross-breeding with bobcats in some portions of the lynx's habitat also represents a challenge to the lynx's genetic makeup. The two themselves are also linked: warming climates could drive Canadian lynxes to cross-breed with bobcats.
John Organ, chief of the U.S. Geological Survey's Cooperative Fish and Wildlife units, said to MassLive that the results of the sequencing "can help us look at land conservation strategies to help maintain lynx on the landscape."
What does DNA have to do with land conservation strategies? Consider the fact that the food found in a landscape, the toxins found in a landscape, or the exposure to drugs can have an impact on genetic activity. That potential change can be transmitted down the generative line. If you know exactly how a lynx's DNA is impacted by something, then the environment they occupy can be fine-tuned to meet the needs of the lynx and any other creature that happens to inhabit that particular portion of the earth.
Given that the Trump administration is considering withdrawing protection for the Canadian lynx, a move that caught scientists by surprise, it is worth having as much information on hand as possible for those who have an interest in preserving the health of this creature—all the way down to the building blocks of a lynx's life.
The exploding popularity of the keto diet puts a less used veggie into the spotlight.
- The cauliflower is a vegetable of choice if you're on the keto diet.
- The plant is low in carbs and can replace potatoes, rice and pasta.
- It can be eaten both raw and cooked for different benefits.
Great again? Why America stopped looking forward to the future
- Income inequality is dividing Americans.
- Wages haven't risen in 30 years, while prices for housing, schools, and basic goods has.
- Canny (and uncanny) politicians have learned how to milk the politics of fear by comparing the present to the past.
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