Ray Kurzweil on Bringing Back the Dead and a Viewer Question: When Is Paul Solman Going to Retire?

BY Paul Solman  July 12, 2012 at 12:32 PM EDT


We round out “Ray Kurzweil Online” with the third and final installment of our miniseries. Thursday’s outtake with Mr. Immortality: Does Kurzweil believe that an avatar of his dead father — created with artificial intelligence and a lifetime’s worth of data and mementos — is, well, his actual father, the guy who died when Ray was 22? This is a step beyond Kurzweil’s stated objective — to stave off death ad infinitum. This is bringing the dead back to life. But what form of life? What if a stranger administers the Turing Test and can’t tell if the avatar is human or pure software? Does that make the avatar a person? Would it in any sense be conscious? Would it be a man, a machine, or something else entirely? The documentary “Transcendent Man” explores Kurzweil’s quest to reincarnate his dad. We asked him how that quest influenced his goal of “immortality today.”

Part one: Futurist Ray Kurzweil on Melding of Man and Machine

Part two: Ray Kurzweil’s Immortality Cocktail

Enough Ray Kurzweil for awhile, at least on this page. For those who crave more, you might check out his webpage.

Name: John Weyrich

Question: Why are you still working and at what age do you hope to retire?

Paul Solman: Because I cherish my work and consider it a genuine privilege — both at the NewsHour and at Yale, where I teach. To quote two of my colleagues at school, both older than I: “I’ll keep stumbling in till I no longer can” and “I’ll die in the saddle.” Like them, I hope never to retire and won’t, so long as others continue to signal that I’m useful to them by continuing to pay me — or otherwise convince me I’m not wasting their time. By continuing to post questions to Making Sen$e, for example.

This entry is cross-posted on the Rundown- NewsHour’s blog of news and insight.