How to create a mind, or die trying

By John Hewitt on December 7, 2012 at 8:30 am

I was clutching at the face of a rock but it would not hold. Gravel gave way. I grasped for a shrub, but it pulled loose, and in cold terror I fell into the abyss.

Thus spoke amateur rock climber Heinz Pagels, the real-life inspiration for mathematician Ian Malcolm in Michael Critchon’s Jurassic Park novels, about a recurring nightmare he had been having. If continuity of consciousness could some day be guaranteed through software or hardware backups of the mind, risky sport, like climbing, might become a lot more popular. Mind uploads and copies, conscious machine intelligences and connectomes are the kinds of things that keep a man like Ray Kurzweil up at night.

With the publication of his 2005 book, “The Singularity is Near,” Kurzweil single-handedly mainstreamed the concept of a technological singularity. Presumably, when the singularity is reached, machine intelligence will have attained human-level equivalence and therefore be capable of consciousness. The future fate of humanity would at this point become unpredictable, then unknowable. Kurzweil’s estimation for the singularity to begin in less than 30 years has raised eyebrows — and controversy. With his newly released book “How to Create a Mind,” Kurzweil seeks to better ground his former work, and in the process takes stock the current state-of-art in brain mapping, machine intelligence, and how we came to be where we are today.

Read more: How to create a mind, or die trying | ExtremeTech.

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