“How to Create a Mind” by Ray Kurzweil gives a lively and palatable insight on how does the complexity of one’s subjective mind work as the inner world of thoughts, memories, and experiences coupled with the brain as a “perfect” machine of neural networks, molecular, chemical, and electromagnetic complex subsystems. For Kurzweil knowledge doesn’t stop on explaining “what something is,” but it steps always in the field of practice where the engineered inventions are not just solutions to the existing problems, but also visions as step towards humanity’s more advanced and prospective future.
Kurzweil references his book with great details what would be like the future of humanity with the development of an exponential mind enhanced with Artificial Intelligence (AI), robotic beings created as our alter-ego companions, or, in nano scales technologies–nanobots–as an enhancement bio-regulator to our biological system. These various robotics would be dependent on the Internet clouds (system of exponential crowed computing) and virtual reality systems as new accelerators of one’s objective knowledge and deepened experiences. Despite great benefits, the critical question arises with the virtual reality acting as possible blinders, a hindrance to human subjectivity and the brain entrainment trends from the objective simulacra’s source with consequences of possible social engineering. The contemporary trends of exponential computing in advanced wireless technological tools and greater and greater dependency on the same to some extent supports Kurzweil’s thesis that the humanity is merging more and more with the AI. The final step of this evolution is the step into the singularity–the future where our subjectivity will be modified and directed with the objective and humanity’s axial knowledge. I imagine this future as creation of a new reality with emergence of a new (6th) sense and intelligence, which both will expand reality beyond what it is, and step into the plain of possibilities that will exist as parallel realities of equal value for our life. These new, exponential, minds will have enhancing abilities through the Internet portals, helped with various robotic devices as the helping tools of our evolutionary expansion. You may say that the natural brain perfection will be enhanced with the technology portals embedded in clouds and modified exponents of possibilities with the virtual realities, for which we hope will not become hindrance blinders.
The reason why I chose reading “How to Create a Mind” comes from my fascination with the IBMs Blue Brain Project and various online stimulating discussions such as on how to create the artificial brain, what are the ethical, hypothetical, concerns of downloading one’s subjective brain into the simulacra system, which leads to the question would such a simulacra system be actually alive as well as an alive human being. The simulacra brain, according to Kurzweil’s predictions, will be finished by 2030, and considering that the Blue Brain Project is presently working on reverse engineering of the neocrtex, this seem to be accurate estimate. As soon as this project is fully accomplished, which necessarily requires the exponential computing abilities, there will be options for every human being to enhance and accelerate his/her learning abilities, biological health system maintenance (nanoboots), and even achieve enriched and balanced emotional responses.
The three most salient points of the book are the following: (1) the excellent explanations of how it is possible to simplify shortcuts in engineering of the brain simulation so that the simulacra could still accurately represent the neural brain wiring and simulate the unity of the mind’s structure based on three hundred million patterns recognized and hierarchically organized by the natural neocortex. This innovative process proves the point that nothing re-created is done by a simple mimicking, but that human inventions are deeply rooted in imagination and creativity. (2) I was amazed with Ray’s observation that it is more difficult to build one neuron, then to simulate a conglomerate of various neural connections or brain sections. This part of the book held my attention tightly and motivated me to understand what are the mathematical systems and inventions applied in today’s computers used on the Internet every day–like clouding, text to speech, speech recognition apps, or the WolframAlpha computational system that runs behind our computer blinds.
(3) Ray’s book is written in a way everybody can follow and understand, flavored with questions of our utmost concerns–those philosophical questions about free will, what is the nature of reality, who are we, and why should we think proactively about humanity’s future. The big questions are always enriched with plethora of personal insights where the writer exemplifies ideas by giving the interpretation of the art work, explaining art’s creative processes in analogy to the inventive software systems, and deepening critical aspects of humanity’s present and future with the perspective of human natural and cultural histories.
I highly recommend this book for anyone whose concerns are about the future of humanity. The singularity’s argument that the humanity is glimpsing into a new transhumanism evolution has some elements of theodicy problems. For example, we can compare the life-expectancy of the 1900s to be around forty-eight year of age, to today’s years. Overall, the life expectancy is tremendously increased in present time. This is true, but this argument doesn’t compare many other variables–what is the percentage of people who die earlier then the life expectancy age due to cancer or other related sicknesses suspected to be increased by corporate based food production, environmental problems, etc. We might increased overall length of life, but, at the same time, increase the percentage of people who die early due to our present mismanagement of the social, political, economic, and natural environments. Although, any critical skilled reader could find some objections to the future of exponential reality and new expectations of the transhumanism future, still, our contemporary times relies on visionaries and their determination to cut through the rain forest the first exploration path as a venue to a qualitative change. Immortality?
Ray Kurzweil on Singularity: http://www.kurzweilai.net/singularity-q-a