You all remember Criswell, right, the amazing prognosticator of Plan 9 From Outer Space? Ray Kurzweil fits the mold: vague predictions, slippery, fuzzy statements, backtracking and excuse-making. The only differences are that Kurzweil is cold-reading technology rather than people’s personalities, and like most mediums, he tends to make happy optimistic predictions that sell better than some of the wackier stuff Criswell talked about (there has been no cannibal apocalypse, and Criswell was one of the early kooks to leap on the end-of-the-world in 2012 bandwagon; Kurzweil just prattles about the rapture of the nerds).
Anyway, I’m not the only naysayer. John Rennie assesses Kurzweil’s predictions, which (surprise!) mainly turn out to be overhyped nonsense. I also learned something interesting:
To help spread the gospel of accelerating returns, Kurzweil and entrepreneur Peter Diamandis established the Singularity University, in California, which offers 9-day executive training sessions (for $15 000) and 10-week graduate studies (for $25 000) on how to understand and master exponentially advancing technologies.
Wow. There’s money in woo, isn’t there?
PZ PREDICTS! I see a flood of email in the near future from fervent followers of the Ray; I see Kurzweil looking cross and popping a few dozen more vitamin pills to reduce the aging effects of his irritation. But then, every time I criticize the Master of Technology Woo, that’s what I get, and he drowns himself in pills every day anyway.