Last night (February 3, 2011) I saw "Transcendent Man," the film about Ray Kurzweil (left), with Ray and the film's director, Barry Ptolemy, at the Time-Life building in New York City at a premiere sponsored by Time and the World Technology Network (WTN). The film can't compete with the Oscar front runner "The Social Network", about the founding of Facebook, but it presents the life and ideas of an inventor and futurist whose contributions surpass just about anyone in recent memory and has people referring to him as "the rightful heir to Thomas Edison."
"Transcendent Man" highlights one of the most difficult ideas for people to understand and accept - the exponential growth of technology. We are so used to experiencing linear growth which expands incrementally year by year but Moore's Law has shown for the last 40 years that technologies double in power every 18 months or so.
The implication of exponential growth is that the year before a new technology reaches maturity it will only be half-way there. A technology that is only 1% towards its end development is only 7 doublings (14 years) away from 100% completion. This "law of accelerating returns" (right) is hard for us to get our heads around. Even Kevin Kelly, former editor of Wired magazine, is one of those included in the film who think Kurzweil is way too optimistic in his predictions for the coming "singularity" - machines as intelligent as humans. Kurzweil says it will happen in 2029. I'm betting Kelly is wrong.
Transcendent Man is touring now so watch for showings in your area - it is a film you need to see. Click on the heading above to find out more about the film.