Ray Kurzweil has published a new book, Fantastic Voyage: Live Long Enough to Live Forever. Ray is certainly a provocateur. Many of us in the Futuring and Innovation Center group saw him at the World Future Society meeting in Washington, DC, a few months ago. He firmly believes that if you can manage to hang in there another 20 years you may become immortal.
Kurzweil is a very bright guy with several breakthrough inventions and successful products in electronics. An authority in biology and medicine he is not. But he makes the argument that the rate of scientific advance on all fronts is so great that we are on a curve of exponential change. He has developed a lot of measures in the electronics field to make the case in that area. He insists that the synergy of science and technology in the next couple of decades will bring about enough progress to arrest death.
I’m not sure Kurzweil’s vision will come true, at least in the time frame he predicts, but I find it interesting that disucssing immortality has taken on a certain amount of respectability. It wasn’t that way a decade ago. Just a week or so ago I happenend to read an article about a conference in India where a respected Indian oncologist said the goal of medicine is immortality.
From time to time in my career with the ACS I have found myself asking, "After we cure cancer, then what?" Sure, there’s a whole list of other diseases and infirmaties to conquer, but what’s the logical outcome of all of this? Nobody has been asking, but Kurzweil and others are putting the question on the table.