What if we disagree about the root of human-ness? I feel that the essence of being human is our ability to love, create, and be surprised. These abilities are somehow “baked into” what we are. To exercise them we don’t even need stone axes, and so in my view we have no limitations to overcome. In fact, I feel this is Kurzweil’s biggest blunder, to assume that we are in essence overachievers. Kurzweil is an overachiever. I suspect the majority of us would be just as happy with a nap. Nothing is wrong with that.
I feel it is important to raise my voice about these prospects. Kurzweil may be a misguided materialist, but he is well-positioned within the technology world and the US government. His thinking influences many people who are capable of turning his predictions into reality. For example, he is apparently on a first name-basis with Bill Gates. He is one of five members of the US “Army Science Advisory Group”. (However, I cannot independently verify the existence of such a group. An “Army Science Board” does seem to exist, but I cannot verify his membership in that.) He has testified before Congress and given them his views on technology.
So I wouldn’t make the mistake of discounting “The Singularity Is Near” as a wacky science fiction tale. The author takes this very seriously and provides a lot of data to back up his proposals. I feel the way to treat it is to reflect upon what makes us human – what is so bad about it that we need to transcend it? Can we truly justify the risks of using technology in this way? If we answer these question completely and honestly, then I’m sure we can avoid the ethical minefields the coming technological abilities will present to us.