By Aging Reversed | 27 November 2015
Dr. Kurtzweil, I would like to ask you. You have made hundreds of predictions out of which many already have come true, and with no doubt many more will come through. But if you would have to single out your three most important predictions for the upcoming decade, what would they be?
Well, one is health and medicine. We talked about our bodies and our bodies are basically actually information because it’s governed by our genes. They are information processes. We didn’t used to treat it that way. It was basically hit or miss. We’d find something. Oh, here’s something that lowers blood pressure. Here’s something that kills HIV. And we would find these things accidentally, so progress was linear. Still valuable. I gave a speech to 12 and 13 year old science winners recently and I said you all would be senior citizens if it hadn’t been for this progress because life expectancy was 19 a thousand years ago. But this is going to go into high gear now. The enabling factor for health and medicine to become an information technology was the genome project. That itself is a perfect exponential and we now have the software of life and we’re also making exponential progress in being able to model it, simulate it, understand it and reprogram it.
And I could speak at great length about examples of how we’re doing that. You can for example now fix a broken heart. Not yet from romance, that’ll take a few more developments in virtual reality, but from a heart attack. My father had a heart attack in the 60s, nothing you could do about it, he could hardly walk. But I’ve talked to people now who could hardly walk and are now rejuvenated. You actually have to be a medical tourist and go to a place like Israel. But that’s just one example of many and what is now a sort of a trickle of these developments, is going to be a flood ten years from now. These technologies will be a thousand times more powerful than they are today because they’re doubling in power every year. They’ll be a million times more powerful in 20 years.
We’ll reach a point 10 to 20 years from now, probably closer to 10, where we’re adding more than a year every year, not just to infant life expectancy but to your remaining life expectancy. Now life expectancy is a statistical phenomenon. You could have a life expectancy of 50 years, 80 years, and be hit by the proverbial bus tomorrow. But we’re working on that too with self-driving cars. And so, within 15 years from now, you go forward a year your life expectancy will move on away from you. So if you can hang in there, we may get to experience this remarkable century ahead, so that’s one development.
Another is virtual reality, three-dimensional printing. We’re going to be able to print all the things we need, clothing, even organs. That’s actually being experimented with now. It’s been done successfully in animals, printing out actual kidneys and lungs and hearts. That will be done in humans within a decade.
And, most importantly artificial intelligence. That’s been my passion for 50 years. Creating systems that have this kind of hierarchical neocortex, can reason like a human, deal with language like a human. But what we’ll use them for is not some alien invasion of intelligent machines, as if they came from Mars. But actually to enhance our own intelligence. I mean this does make us smarter and ultimately that’s going to go inside our bodies and brains and that’s why we create these tools. That’s what’s unique about humans. We go beyond our limitations. We couldn’t reach that higher fruit at that branch a thousand years ago so we invented a tool extending our reach. And then we leveraged our muscles to create the pyramids in great structures. Now we can access all of human knowledge with a few keystrokes and ultimately will directly expand our intelligence. That’s what’s uniquely human. People say, well, but we’re going to stop being human if we merge with machines. No, that is what it means to be human.
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