Futurist reviews Her


#1

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#2

Kurzweil's science fiction is so immanent within him that he seems to miss the fact that the technologies are props, and that Her's situation in the sociological present is, actually, the point.

Or, it might be that Kurzweil is well aware of the sociological present, and is just writing what he was asked to write: estimated dates for the technology bits. That's his job, after all.


#3

I was going to say the same thing. He was asked the question, after all.

That out of the way, can we spend the rest of the thread laughing at the evidence that Kurzweil uses to predict The Singularity?

Brilliant! All important events in history are getting closer and closer together!

What.... you have a problem with "Telephones and radios" being considered as important an event as "Eukaryotic cells evolve"?

...all his charts are basically this.


#4

Yeah, that one is kinda goofy. However, his charting of Solar power following a Moore's Law curve is pretty compelling. If it holds, Solar power will essentially be "free" in about 15 years (after 7 more cycles with each cycle being approximately 2 years).

Also, he built a sight-reader that gave my blind father the ability to scan books and have a voice read them, so Dr. Kurzweil is alright by me.


#5

Sure, just so long as we've established that he's being paid to be wrong about stuff!

Which we have, obviously.


#6

It's a post on his blog. I'm not sure anybody asked him, or paid him (any more than he gets paid for ads on his blog) to write it. At least, I don't see any evidence of that. He's just commenting on a movie that was apparently partially inspired by his own work on the singularity.

I remember reading Kurzweil's "Age of Spiritual Machines" back when Our Lady Peace released the album inspired by it. I also remember it being VERY HARD TO GET THROUGH.


#7

I sometimes wonder what Kurzweil's game is. Human-equivalent AI by 2029? (And as a commercial product?) The real-world plans to have self-driving cars available commercially by 2020 seem a bit ambitious - that just seems nutty. His prediction history is oddly inaccurate, despite his protestations, and I'm particularly baffled by his medical predictions. He'll predict that some medical therapy will be in widespread use in 20 years when it doesn't even exist currently in the lab; these are the sorts of novel treatments that would take 20 years to go from early clinical trials to commercial product, and surely he knows that. Frankly, I think he gives things too-early dates to generate controversy rather than because he actually believes it.


#8

"Frankly, I think he gives things too-early dates to generate controversy rather than because he actually believes it."

Kurzweil has many flaws, but I've never gotten the impression that he says things just to provoke controversy. He seems to be very earnest in his predictions.

I think he has the opposite problem -- he seems to desperately want the technologies to exist in the timelines he gives. After all, he's going to need some of those medical therapies if he's to achieve his longevity goals.


#9

No doubt you're correct. This is ultimately about the "rapture of the nerds" and Kurzweil does remind me of my grandmother who really wanted Jesus to return in her lifetime and, as she approached 100 years of age, became more and more convinced it was going to happen. It explains why he's so irrational about insisting that his previous predictions have really happened, even though they obviously haven't.


#10

As I mentioned, a lot of the dramatic tension is provided by the fact that Theodore's love interest does not have a body. But this is an unrealistic notion. It would be technically trivial in the future to provide her a virtual visual presence to match her virtual auditory presence, using, lens-mounted displays, for example, that display images onto Theodore's retinas.

Hint: not being able to see Samantha isn't going to present the biggest problem in their relationship.


#11

I'm not even sure what that's supposed to mean. How do you measure when an AI surpasses "human" intelligence? There is no single objective measure of intelligence. If you go by "who is better at arithmetic" they've had us beat for generations now. If you go by "who can find relevant information based on a text query" they've had us beat since modern search engines. But Siri is still a poor conversationalist, and even a 2029 model probably won't be able to do some kinds of basic problem solving that humans take for granted.

It's not all about processing power or accurately modeling brain structure. You can't completely divorce a human mind from the human experience.


#12

BTW, the best part of that review is the very end when Kurzweil links to his patents that he thinks are relevant to the discussion.

One of his patents actually claims ownership over hooking a mannequin to the Internet:

"A virtual reality encounter system comprising: a mannequin coupled to a camera for receiving a video image, the camera sending the video image to a communications network; a processor for overlaying a virtual environment over one or more portions of the video image to form a virtual scene; and a set of goggles to render the virtual scene. "

Sounds like Kurzweil re-watched WestWorld and decided he needed to patent Yul Brenner.


#13

If there's one thing I've learned on the internet, it's that there's no inherent conflict whatsoever between absolutely believing in something and deliberately provoking the hell out of people with it.


#14

The thing that seemed incongruously anachronistic was the idea that he worked in an office. Considering his job, there's really no reason that it couldn't be done anywhere with network access. And given that, why would his company pay rent? After all, he doesn't really need to interact with anyone but customers...


#15

The same could be said of almost any tech company today, or of most college courses. I suspect face-to-face human interaction is going to continue playing a big role in most jobs for a while yet.


#16

Kurzweil's apparent sincerity in his belief that "The Singularity" and dramatic life extension technologies will occur "really soon now!" are driven by one thing and one thing alone, that I think he makes extremely and painfully obvious: The man is stunningly afraid of the idea of his own physical mortality. He eats something like 100 vitamins a day, all to live just a wee bit longer so he'll be around when it becomes possible to upload his mind and achieve immortality. He's freaking obsessed, and living in serious fear.

On one hand I feel bad for the guy, genuinely pity him.

On the other hand, considering I intuitively lean toward belief in the idea that mind and consciousness is actually more fundamental than matter, and does continue to exist after our material/biological bodies fall apart, I just go, eh, it's his little trip he's living in during this particular trip into the ol' Simulation System, and he'll eventually realize that obsessing over physical death was kind of pointless...


#17

I loved the premise of Her but I could not suspend enough disbelief to believe that Samantha was AI and not actually Scarlett Johansson reading dialogue in a recording booth. I think the filmmakers should've done more to help the audience make that leap into the future, perhaps by giving Samantha some quirky dialect to help remind us that she was not a real woman.

Without being able to buy into that that basic premise, I found the movie to be well acted but rather tedious


#18

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