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In the Future, we will do NOTHING

April 7, 2009

Ray Kurzweil is an interesting man. I don’t know TONS about him, but after a co-worker shared an article about him from “Rolling Stone,” I was shocked by this inventor and “futurist” . He can apparently predict the oncoming changes in our society. Wowza, right?

Mr. Kurzweil has successfully predicted technological advances in our society for years now, and has lead the way on ideas and field such as text to speech synthesis, speech recognition technology, electric Keyboard instruments, and laid down the foundations for Xerox. The man is smart, the man is tech savvy, and his intelligence is something I cannot fathom. This I do know.

The thing is, he has some outrageous things to say.
In his article in Rolling Stone, he says that we will be able to download and upload our own memories and the ideas that exist in our head. He also says that we will be able to basically bring dead people back to life, re-create them. He has a few psychological issues going on in relation to the death of his late father. It is made apparent in the article through his determined desire to bring him back to life (or father 2.0 as it is called in the article). There are somethings that are hard to fathom, and it can be hard to distinguish between his own fantasies and desires, and what is realistic/beneficial for our society at large.
Today I ran across a blog on Good Magazine’s site ( and in this he proclaims not only flying cars by 2030 (finally, right? I mean, come on, according to movies … we are long overdue), but also we will supposedly replace most travel with virtual reality.

“By the late 2020s, nanobots in our brain (that will get there noninvasively, through the capillaries) will create full-immersion virtual-reality environments from within the nervous system. So if you want to go into virtual reality the nanobots shut down the signals coming from your real senses and replace them with the signals that your brain would be receiving if you were actually in the virtual environment. So this will provide full-immersion virtual reality incorporating all of the senses. You will have a body in these virtual-reality environments that you can control just like your real body, but it does not need to be the same body that you have in real reality. We’ll be able to interact with people in any way in these virtual-reality environments. That will replace most travel, but we’ll also have new travel technologies for our real bodies using nanotechnology.”

I am just going to say, that I sincerely hope this means that we would cut down on business travel. In this imagined future.

But, by GOD!, don’t let me live in a world that prefers virtual reality over actual travel. I already have fallen victim to a world that prefers communication through wires, signals, and computer screens. At times I feel it sucking the life out of me. I can feel my personal communication skills diminish, I can feel myself lacking and desiring human touch, and needing real conversation when I spend too much time with my dear laptop. Don’t tempt us to spend our time in a world that is virtual, that is a similacra for real life. It would not be the same, it isn’t “real” (what is real? good question), right?

I fear many people would be more vunerable to living in a virtual reality; be it a fantasy, or anightmare, than we think. Who knows what I would do if faced with the possiblity. I might. I have easily fallen victim to this world, the world online.

But I hope I would not succumb to it, I would hope I would access life experiences through real time travel, and real experiences with things that you can on experience through actually being there. The sights, the smells, the conversations, the things to learn. It can only be learned in person, right? I mean, we can’t learn these things in a virtual head space, or maybe we could. But I can’t imagine it being the same.

It all brings up some interesting things to contemplate.
In the mean time, I really should attempt to spend less time with my computer and live.
And let me travel.

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