Soon I will put my dreaming in the hands of greater forces, and I’m sure there will be some surprises for both of us. That is one thing which never changes.
………….– Thomas Ligotti, The Chemyst
Kurzweil dreams of electric children, of meme machines extracting souls from cadavers, of augmented lives lived out in quantum hiveworlds. Listening to Kurzweil reminds me of Thomas Ligotti’s short story The Chemyst whose delicate dreams come alive in the metamorphic deliquescence of his beautiful victims. Like a mad scientist or prophet of the alchemical Great Art he seems to have conned his way into the minds of an empire of transhuman dreamworlds; an entrepreneur of the new Soulcraft, a maker of steel babies and hyperwired artifacts of desire. With Google and the military-industrial complex behind him he dips into the collective madness of robotics, AI, and the ultimate transformation of human kind into Nietzsche’s Übermensch. For Rüdiger Safranski, the Übermensch represents a higher biological type reached through artificial selection and at the same time is also an ideal for anyone who is creative and strong enough to master the whole spectrum of human potential, good and “evil”, to become an “artist-tyrant”. Kurzweil a transhumanist moves among the elite hyping his soulcraft techniques like a carnival barker to all and sundry.
What strange dreams we weave with the backing of the nouveau riche and the forces of elite capitalism? Whereas the desert monks once dreamed of demons, Kurzweil dreams of posthuman life beyond us like a nightmare Magus full of dark visions of splendor and immortal machines.
Kathleen Myles reports on Kurzweil’s latest fantasia:
“We’re going to be funnier. We’re going to be sexier. We’re going to be better at expressing loving sentiment,” Kurzweil said at a recent discussion at Singularity University. He is involved in developing artificial intelligence as a director of engineering at Google but was not speaking on behalf of the company.
Kurzweil predicts that in the 2030s, human brains will be able to connect to the cloud, allowing us to send emails and photos directly to the brain and to back up our thoughts and memories. This will be possible, he says, via nanobots — tiny robots from DNA strands — swimming around in the capillaries of our brain. He sees the extension of our brain into predominantly nonbiological thinking as the next step in the evolution of humans — just as learning to use tools was for our ancestors.