Of Humans and Humanity
The Singularity movement fails to address the question, Why should man live forever? [Feb. 21]. For a "science" that is so interdisciplinary, it is oblivious to the laws of nature. Humans may well simply die off. The more pressing question is, When? By the time Raymond Kurzweil's little utopia comes to fruition, man may have already destroyed its habitat. Perhaps some of that genius capital might be better invested in saving the planet.
James A. Zaremski,
Mount Laurel, N.J., U.S.
The goals of biologist Aubrey de Grey and technologist Kurzweil made me anxious. Transferring our minds to sturdier computer vessels, as Kurzweil suggests, singles out the brain as the most important part of a human being. Should we give up our emotions, our spirits, in the effort to preserve our selves? That's not a handoff I'm comfortable with.
Medfield, Mass., U.S.
The Singularity is a fascinating concept until you consider that human beings are not their brains. Sometimes we experience certain knowledge without having fact or experience beforehand, a sort of knowing without knowing. Humans are emotionally connected and possess sense and intellect. Computers will forever do what they are supposed to do: computing.
Dana Bay, South Africa
My problem with Lev Grossman's article is not the exponential technological theories of Kurzweil but the implications such theories have for the population of Earth. The planet is already in dire need of new, sustainable systems, a need that is only slowly and very recently being addressed. If technology develops at an exponential rate yet our development of sustainable agricultural and environmental practices lags behind, where will Earth be in 2045?
New York City
I'm looking forward to the Singularity keeping me alive and lucid for long enough to see if it can create a being with a brain with both a sense of irony and a sense of humor. Or will the Singularity be able to create a decent, clean-living and God-fearing schizophrenic? As for neuroscientist Henry Markram planning to spend the next 10 years in Switzerland creating a human brain why, man, my mother did it in nine months, without any technological help and during World War II!
Vanderbijlpark, South Africa
I'm very disappointed with your cover story. The evidence for Moore's law that computational power has been growing at exponential rates rather than linear ones and likely will continue to do so is indeed compelling. However, this is a very long way from the idea of machines having consciousness, self-awareness, creativity and vision. There is just no evidence to suggest that the leap between overarching computational power and what is the essence of our humanity can ever be breached. Shame on you to be wasting our time on magic.
Please hold off on this Singularity thing until I'm in my grave (also, dead). I've come to love my life with all its follies, imperfections, mistakes and accomplishments. Why would I give my brain or body up to a computer to do what I've come to do well? What is left for us to do, in the midst of the Singularity, except to pose a danger to our idle selves?
Elena van Lieshout,
Flossmoor, Ill., U.S.
Although I will not be around to experience it, the idea of the Singularity gives me hope for the future of mankind. Maybe they can program some humility into the superintelligent computer and it will find a cure for greed, poverty, disease and religion.
Joe C. Thomson,
In his article on superhuman intelligence, Grossman makes no mention of the qualities that separate humans from all other species: a sense of morality, love, compassion and empathy. No matter how brilliant a chess player Deep Blue was or how astute Watson was on Jeopardy!, the computer can never replace the human soul.
Bad Nauheim, Germany
The U.S. is really a country of contrasts: teaching Darwinism is sometimes prohibited, but there are science fanatics ready to preach immortality. Highlighting the hottest scientific hypothesis is all right, but a magazine like TIME should not cover this nonsense as if it were truth.
Re "Revolution, Delayed" [Feb. 21]: The developments in Egypt have been riveting to watch. America should certainly lend support but should not try to orchestrate the outcome. We have done this in the past, and the results eventually came back to bite us. Best of luck to these brave Egyptians.
St. Paul, Minn., U.S.
As head of a leading Muslim youth organization in America, I appeal to the Muslim youth of Egypt to walk to the beat of their own drum but also learn from the youthful American revolutionaries of two centuries ago for they wrote the most successful composition in modern history. I encourage Egypt's youth to establish justice and equality for all their citizens as they write their own magnum opus.
Rizwan Alladin, Ahmadiyya Muslim Youth Association,
Silver Spring, Md., U.S.