• 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.

    Your cover boasts a wonderful article--but it is 2011, and you still refer to humankind as "man." Raymond Kurzweil and Lev Grossman properly use the inclusive word human in the article. The cover should have done the same.

    Linda L. Kramer, WINNETKA, ILL.

    The goals of biologist Aubrey de Grey and technologist Raymond 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.

    Andrea Cronin, MEDFIELD, MASS.

    My problem with 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?

    Stuart Smith, NEW YORK CITY

    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 Singularity, except to pose a danger to our idle selves?

    Elena van Lieshout, FLOSSMOOR, ILL.

    New Revolutionaries

    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.

    Mike McDonald, ST. PAUL, MINN.

    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 U.S.A., SILVER SPRING, MD.

    Chanel No. Stein

    I was very much entertained by Joel Stein's "Scent of a Nerd" [Feb. 21] and his effort to identify a fragrance befitting a writer. Who needs Fabulosity when you've got Snarky?

    Ana-Claudia Magana, LOS ANGELES

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