Aside from Grossman’s title, this article leaves little with which to disagree (but believe me, I found something!).

That owes to Grossman’s milquetoast article (in true Time fashion) giving only the most cursory account of the issues Kurzweil addresses.

While Grossman does a passable job ‘introducing’ the subject, I did find a few notes I would like to add (though I’m not sure how long mainstream media outlets will have to keep introducing an idea that is in fact been around literally for decades and Kurzweil who has been popularized through many venues…).

Beginning with his or his editors’ choice of title. Firstly, ‘Man’ as a designator for humanity has got to go. College freshman writing courses will tell you that so drop it. Topics of science and technology often privilege male gender enough so let’s try not to slather our cover pages with basic no-no’s okay?

Secondly, just as humanity now does not have indoor plumbing, so will “humanity in 2045” not become immortal. Technology and the access to it does not appear equally distributed across the world and it does no one any good to disguise that fact with poor use of language. More appropriately, the article could say: “some people who are quite wealthy and are located near urban centers and have access to the most up-to-date medical care will be able to potentially slow or reverse the effects of aging.” Important to note is that just as now there are many without access to even rudimentary medical care–so will the future not necessarily bring instant health care justice.

The unequal distribution and access to medicine is and will (most likely) be a major issue for justice minded folk.

So to the article:

1. Grossman focuses on AI, which is understandable given the traction that IBM’s ‘Watson’ has made lately in the news. Understandable. But I believe that what Kurzweil does well is illuminate the convergence of cognitive sciences, nanotechnologies, biomedical advances, AI, robotics, and computing power. It isn’t necessarily just advances in AI, but the way AI will be integrated into robotics. Or the way nanotechnology will be implemented in medicine. All of these separate areas of technoscience are amazing indeed but it is the way they inform and bootstrap each other that will be truly surprising.

2. Who or what is a “Singulartarian”? Grossman uses this term as well as “Kurzweilian” and I though I understand that Grossman may just be using a shorthand for “people that believe that the event called ‘singularity’ will occur” and “people that largely agree with Kurzweil’s appraisal of the timing and effects of the singularity,” I feel that his language acts to depict a diverse and unorganized group of folks as an organized secular sect.
You can use any inappropriate handle for any assorted ‘group’ to make them sound wacky (like I feel Singulartarian does). 

“You know those people who believe in transforming animals? You know–Evolutarians? Yeah. Some of them are Darwinites.”

Uh. Does anyone who believes in evolution call themself a Evolutarian? I don’t know. Probably as many as those who identify as Singularitarian.

3. There’s another way to make an idea sound wacky. Compare it to something ‘wacky’ even though it may have nothing in common. Grossman uses this trick when he writes: “Of course, a lot of people think the Singularity is nonsense–a fantasy, wishful thinking, a Silicon Valley version of the Evangelical story of the Rapture…” 
Waitaminute. 
“A lot” of people think this? Who?
There are a number of great thinkers out there who have posed interesting critiques of the main ideas surrounding the Singularity but why not name them?
In my reading, very few people question the events commonly associated with the Singularity. Even those experts in technoscience who don’t look forward to its occurrance and believe that it will bring dire consequences to much of humanity, still concede to Kurzweil’s main points and even his projected timing of events.

And none of those astute folks that I’ve read (among them Bill Joy and Jaron Lanier) have said that the Singularity is like a secular ‘rapture.’ 

Any close reading of Kurzweil does not allow for that interpretation. He speaks of the opposite of what Rapture is. He speaks of radical closeness, integration, loving connection, and having to steer the present (and thus future) with our highest values of compassion and intimacy. That’s not flight from the world, that’s responsible embracing. 

But, to some people ‘ethics, justice, compassion, and intimacy’ might sound ‘spiritual’ and if some people hear it that way, so be it. 

In the end, whatever “the future brings” will be the fruit of our moral behavior today. 

See The Original Article:  
Grossman, Lev. “2045: The Year Man Becomes Immortal” Time February 21, 2011
http://www.time.com/time/health/article/0,8599,2048138,00.html

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