Sunday, July 12, 2009

Ray Kurzweil interview

I had occasion to listen to an interview/conversation with Ray Kurzweil that was recorder about 3 years ago by C-Span. I was inspired by reference to Ray in Cory's Doctorow book "Content".

First and foremost I'm not in favor of such deep and far reaching futurism as he expresses. I always have in mind impressions we have when we read about some futurist of the past. Take authors like Julius Verne. When it comes to story telling - he was just great, but when it comes to his direct predictions about technology - we just smile. We smile, because Verne was such a fine man, but we do laugh at some other futuristic predictions of the past.

So I have mixed feeling about some of Ray's messages. About his idea of spiritual machines and his pseudo-religious views. I think he even shows some selective ignorance when it comes to some issue of technology and intelligence. He cites famous Turning test that is a test of potential machine intelligence, but falls short to mention Church-Turing thesis - that for me is still a prove for impossibility of true artificial intelligence in a strong sense of the word (i.e. human intelligence connected necessarily to concept of mind and conscience). He mentiones Penrose, but does not notice his key arguments against strong AI. He seems to be ignorant of Gödel and Tarski discoveries and their consequences for AI and machine reasoning...

Well, I do not want to go too far. He is fine man. His achievements for blind people, his work on speach recognition and education and last but not least - his famous musical synthesizers, and his company - are just great things - and I like and admire him for all these achievements. No wonder he was awarded of 16 honorary doctorates !

It was my first longer encounter to his thoughts. I will certainly read some of his book soon.
Recommended, despite of what I have said above ...

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