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Google’s chief engineer: People will soon upload their entire brains to computers

Published time: June 20, 2013 16:02
Edited time: June 21, 2013 10:56
Ray Kurzweil (AFP Photo / Gabriel Bouys)

Ray Kurzweil (AFP Photo / Gabriel Bouys)

There are around 377 million results on Google.com for the query “Can I live forever?” Ask that question to company’s top engineer, though, and you’re likely to hear an answer that’s much more concise.

Simply put, Google’s Ray Kurzweil says immortality is only a few years away. Digital immortality, at least.

Kurzweil, 64, was only brought on to Google late last year, but that hasn’t stopped him from making headlines already. During a conference in New York City last week, the company’s director of engineering said that the growth of biotechnology is so quickly paced that he predicts our lives will be drastically different in just a few decades.

According to Kurzweil, humans will soon be able to upload their entire brains onto computers. After then, other advancements won’t be too far behind.

The life expectancy was 20, 1,000 years ago,” Kurzweil said over the weekend at the Global Future 2045 World Congress in New York City, CNBC's Cadie Thompson reported. “We doubled it in 200 years. This will go into high gear within 10 and 20 years from now, probably less than 15, we will be reaching that tipping point where we add more time than has gone by because of scientific progress.”

"Somewhere between 10 and 20 years, there is going to be tremendous transformation of health and medicine," he said.

In his 2005 book “The Singularity Is Near,” Kurzweil predicted that ongoing achievements in biotechnology would mean that by the middle of the century, “humans will develop the means to instantly create new portions of ourselves, either biological or nonbiologicial,” so that people can have “a biological body at one time and not at another, then have it again, then change it.” He also said there will soon be “software-based humans” who will “live out on the Web, projecting bodies whenever they need or want them, including holographically projected bodies, foglet-projected bodies and physical bodies comprising nanobot swarms.” 


Those nanobot swarms might still be a bit away, but given the vast capabilities already achieved since the publication of his book, Kurzweil said in New York last week that more and more of the human body will soon be synced up to computers, both for backing up our thoughts and to help stay in good health.

"There's already fantastic therapies to overcome heart disease, cancer and every other neurological disease based on this idea of reprogramming the software," Kurzweil at the conference. "These are all examples of treating biology as software. ...These technologies will be a 1,000 times more powerful than they were a decade ago. ...These will be 1,000 times more powerful by the end of the decade. And a million times more powerful in 20 years."

In “The Singularity Is Near,” Kurzweil acknowledged that Moore’s Law of Computer suggests that the power of computer doubles, on average, every two years. At that rate, he wrote, “We're going to become increasingly non-biological to the point where the non-biological part dominates and the biological part is not important anymore.”

Based on conservative estimates of the amount of computation you need to functionally simulate a human brain, we'll be able to expand the scope of our intelligence a billion-fold,” The Daily Mail quoted Kurzweil.

Kurzweil joined Google in December 2012 and is a 1999 winner of the National Medal of Technology and Innovation. In the 1970s, Kurzweil was responsible for creating the first commercial text-to-speech synthesizer.