south by southwest | March 13, 2012

Can We Live Forever? Lev Grossman in Conversation with Raymond Kurzweil

Lev Grossman's 2011 TIME cover story on Raymond Kurzweil's "singularity" theory was one of the most talked about articles of the year. At this year's South By Southwest Interactive (SXSWi), TIME's lead tech writer sat down with Kurzweil to explore the divisive scientist's vision of the future once again. Kurzweil's claim-to-fame is the “singularity”—his belief in exponential growth that will move technological expansion at an incredibly rapid, yet utterly predictable, pace. The theory predicts vastly expanded life expectancies and, eventually, a science fiction world of near immortality.

There are, however, many skeptics. Grossman cited one, Paul Allen, who claimed that technology will "hit a wall in the coming years (or decades)." As TIME points out in their recap, Kurzweil offers a historic explanation to refute Allen's argument:

Kurzweil’s response cited new paradigms to come for the [technology] industry. In the early days of computing, he said, the increases in power were to be found in the shrinking of vacuum tubes. That was the trend of the day, until it didn’t make sense any more, and scientists made the move to a new paradigm. Kurzweil says he envisions this next paradigm on the horizon to involve 3D chips, already in existence inside Intel. As has always been the case, this breakthrough into a new paradigm will then magnify computing power exponentially.

As the celebrated author of The Magicians series and TIME's chief book critic, it is easy to overlook Grossman's role as TIME's lead tech writer. However, on the SXSWi stage, he once again reminded us why he is one of the most fascinating voices in tech journalism today.

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non-profits | March 12, 2012