Transcendent Kurzweil

“The irony of man’s condition is that the deepest need is to be free of the anxiety of death and annihilation; but it is life itself which awakens it, and so we must shrink from being fully alive.”
―Ernest Becker, The Denial of Death

Raymond Kurzweil is an author, inventor, entrepreneur, futurist, and the founder of Singularity University, as well as the prophetic figure who preaches the salvation of technology through singularity, where technology explodes at an exponential rate and mind and machine become an indistinguishable unity. He is also the creative protagonist in the film Transcendent Man which documents the personality of one of histories most sophisticated minds.

From an early age Kurzweil was a precocious youth who undertook projects inventing various machines and contraptions with whatever he could pull together. His father was a hardworking, financially strapped composer who actively supported and encouraged his son’s creative pursuits in every way he could. At seventeen Ray built a computer that composed music and in 1965 he gained his first national exposure when he was invited on a CBS game show to showcase his invention. Shortly thereafter he invented a computer that matched and selected colleges that were best suited for a student given their academic data and preferences. Upon graduation he attended MIT, studying Computer Science and Literature, and went on to start several companies during his undergraduate years that would produce original breakthroughs in flat-bed scanning and electronic acoustic synthesizing technology.

Kurzweil pioneered many advancements in the areas of computing technology, specifically in the areas of transcription software, optical character recognition, music machines and synthesizers, and artificial intelligence. He is the award winning author of many books on trans-humanism, singularity, and artificial intelligence. As a futurist he has developed a cult following due to his uncanny ability to predict historical events and technological advancements to the year, forecasting the fall of the Soviet Union and the collapse of the Soviet Union, and foretelling the date of technological breakthroughs, such as when a computer would beat a human grand chess master, or describe the Internet phenomena and its explosive social integration many years and decades beforehand. This ability served to strengthen his persona as a clairvoyant leader of a technological future growing increasingly uncertain.

A recent prediction of Kurzweil that is slowly unfolding into fruition is the human synthesis of genetics, nanotechnology, and robotics into everyday living. He asserts that we will eventually merge man and machine, technology and thought, so as to enhance our capabilities and intelligence. Ultimately Ray Kurzweil has a not so hidden motive behind all his work and theories. His aim, he says, is to transcend death, to live forever. According to him this will be achieved in our lifetime in the very near future. Eventually, when singularity is reached and technological breakthrough arrives at an event horizon of infinite upward intelligent potential, artificial intelligence will allow us the capability of beating the odds of death. Even more incredible is that Kurzweil believes we’ll even be able to resurrect the dead through the information contained in memories and data. Many contend that he’s a crackpot, or that even if his singularity prediction is true, artificial intelligence, being infinitely intelligent, would usurp power and control and dominate mankind, similar to the way humans deal with insects, in what contemporary AI researches deem as the Artilect war, or artificial intellect war.

What is initially curious about Ray’s obsession with transcending death is compounded to just plain weird when he begins speaking about his father who unexpectedly died from a heart attack. It seems that Ray’s fascination with conquering death and resurrecting the dead originates out of the painful loss he suffered when his father passed away. Since then he has collected and stored, some may say horded, every scribble, bill, and manuscript left by his father with the professed hope of digitizing it one day in order to reanimate his father.

Notions like this are certainly wild. Just as wild as his daily regimen of 200 supplement pills that he consumes to “reprogram the biochemistry” of his body in order to reverse the effects of aging and grow young again. Despite his quirky eccentricity, his advancements have allowed the blind to listen to visual text, libraries to digitally transcribe and immortalize volumes of text, musicians to create music and synthesize acoustics, in addition to founding dozens of multimillion dollar companies from technology to health and wellness. His achievements and ideas have gained him worldwide notoriety and recognition, winning dozens of honoree doctorates and awards, most notably the National Medal of Technology, the highest medal awarded by the president, and the National Inventors Hall of Fame. His acclaim and contributions are undisputed. Even his ability for predictions, of which 89 out of 108 came true, serve to bolster his credibility and make even his wildest ideas appear taste worthy.

To understand and tolerate his futuristic and often fantastical visions of the coming world, you must gain a glimpse into his inner mind and how he thinks. To begin, Ray Kurzweil is a mathematical prodigy by most accounts, giving him a rare ability to calculate complex abstractions, conceiving and building technology in his mind before it is even feasible of producing that vision into reality. Many of Ray’s current technologies were produced this way, far in advance, long before the technology was invented. He describes his creative process as dreaming himself years into the future, imagining himself interacting with the technology, describing its use and functions to an audience at a conference, detailing all the problems they must have solved and hurdles they must have overcome to produce it, eventually working back until the entire piece of technology has been reverse engineered in his mind. He recalls that when he sets out to create or invent he allows himself to fantasize or dream about it and that he’ll frame the problem in his mind before he sleeps and will frequently wake up with the solution in mind. He stresses that it is a process however, not simply a light bulb flicking on, and requires actively seeking the solution in mind.

Kurzweil points out that the nature of his creative work in the realm of technology doesn’t provide him so much opportunity for solitary creativity. Because technology is often the synthesis of many specialized disciplines, ranging from linguistics to mechanical engineering to computers, he is required to facilitate creative collaboration among groups of specialists despite their disparate vocabularies in order to accomplish a common, creative task. While flow can be a challenge to achieve for individuals, he says it poses an even greater difficulty for groups managing different perspectives and values. However, ensuring that everyone is equally invested and on the same page with mutual interest, collaboration yields a diversity of perspective and greater magnitude of thought, yielding invaluable results.

True to his American values, Kurzweil believes that the US is a leader because of its ability to see new frontiers, reward risk and generate new knowledge which, given the emergence of the information age, he says is becoming the new capital currency. Risk is a necessary component of success. For Ray, failure is apart of risk, but failure is simply success deferred.

While Kurzweil and his ideas have been warmly received by the public, in large thanks to his life changing technologies and paradigm shifting predictions, he is not without critics. Despite his large, almost cult following of technologists and scientists, many skeptics believe his predictive powers are over inflated, that anyone could equally observe the basis for his predictions provided they had access to the same technological information being developed at the time of his claims, while others posit that, given the observed trajectory of past trends, such predictions were bound to occur and not so much a surprise as many people would believe. Rather than debating whether the event of singularity will occur, most critics challenge the date Kirzweil believes it will take place, as well as the nature and magnitude of the “event horizon”. More numerous are those that challenge his ideas regarding transcending death via the integration of man and machine. Many highly regarded contemporaries draw a line in the proverbial sand and fault Kurzweil for over reaching his domain of expertise into the realm of biology where they say he has little understanding of the delicate balance of biological organisms designed over millions of years by the hand of evolution. Whatever the criticisms may be, Kurzweil has produced an indelible mark on science and progress with his technology from which everyone has directly or indirectly benefited, and his appreciation is continually recognized year after year.

The narrative of Kurzweil being portrayed in Transcendent Man communicates a misunderstood genius who carries with him the suffering of paternal loss as a haunting reminder of his own frailty and death. It paints his character as one of wild optimism and hope that technology, with the aid of his hand, will deliver him from this suffering by simultaneously preventing his death and finally resurrecting the memory of his father. His work appears to revolve almost exclusively around integrating his envisioned prosthetic technologies seamlessly into the human life as a means of overcoming physical constraint or existential finitude.

When viewed in this light, his creative activities and life accomplishments, while awe inspiring, seem to be vain desperate attempts to manipulate the hand of god and alter fate. Interspersed between his articulate monologues, fervent speeches, and the various technologies of his being surveyed there remains a portrait of a hollow man emptied of heart, preoccupied with the past, longing for his father, and pining for the future of technology to arrive before death does. His crisis is internal but always subsuming beneath his genial intimations. His father’s death acts as a reminder of his frailty and forces the confrontation of his metaphysical identity in the face of annihilation. In an act of defiance, Kurzweil renounces both in a creative expression of vision and technology that wills the formation of a new identity, free from death, and a new world, free from loss. In this way we can see how his creative pursuits manifest this struggle to establish a new nomos in which he is the author and architect who writes the rules of fate.


Monsters we are, monsters that hide under flesh, gleaming eyes, sharp teeth, foul breath. We wait for dark to settle, for the shadows of ignorance to blanket the mind, then we sink our teeth and claws into your cold dead flesh. We don’t like the live ones, but that isn’t a worry since there’s so few of them, the live ones. We sink and we tear and we rip and we shred, then we mash meat and gargle blood and floss our jagged teeth with the sinews. We live like this because we want to wake people, we want to scare people from their desultory dreams, but we find that not only are these people unmoved and unperturbed, they’re altogether dead. There is no heinous crime desecrating the sleeping dead.

Flowers line the walkway. Little children in white dresses saunter ahead dropping petals as they walk. Oak trees sway as rays of light poke through the branches and land on the path before me. I grasp her hand and squeeze gently an affirmation of assurance, of our bond.  The children vanish and I am left staring into a hand holding only a pen, a slender cylindrical pen dark as the ink it jets. I continue weaving these fabrications onto paper before I hear a ring for supper. I  close my book and head downstairs to discover my family laying on the floor, in a heap, dismembered and bleeding, their eyes still open, their mouths still gaping their last gasp. They’ve been dead for weeks now but the stench is hardly the concern, rather its the putrified puddles of blood and bile now squirming with fly larva. I grab a stack of books on the stairs and lay them before me in the humors, like stepping stones, and make my way to the kitchen.  A waft of turkey liver titillates my nostrils just as I pop open the microwave. My favorite.

The hedges trimmed nicely, I thought. The sidewalk is swept and the mailboxes are full with new news. I observe a serry of school boys across the way huddled under the stop sign. They were probably in college by the looks of their swagger. Boat shoes and collared tees, frayed hats and cigarettes, all coupled with a laughter that bellowed into the air like toxic smoke that choked my lungs. I wanted to go over and begin strangling them all, one by one, but prudence stepped in.

Prudence was my dog. He had long white hair, as most sheep dogs do, and it dragged through every puddle and dirt pile he made his way through. This dog had particularly bad taste in women. He was always fond of the older types, the ones with fake teeth and hair rollers who wore stockings whenever they made trips to the seven eleven. It was their flesh he liked most of all. Maybe it was because Prudence was old and his senses were far less keen than what they use to be, but he loved to nuzzle and lick the crotch of these old ladies to their delight. It was a dog thing. They understood it. But they loved it. And if it wasn’t entirely inappropriate they would have taken Prudence home and made’em their own.

I pressed the weight, squeezing my will against the bar, pressing the fibers, contracting them together with enough force to pop the blood vessels in my face. When I was finished with the last rep I fell down and collapsed to the ground, grabbing my chest in pain. The hate, don’t go– I yelled– don’t leave me. Surely enough the hate returned and I began to reharness that focus and apply that hate to the weight. This is how strength is born.

Continue reading “Dys-“

Justification for the Death Penalty

Is the death penalty an acceptable punishment? Is it moral? Is it prudential? I will take a pragmatic position, arguing that the death penalty is an instrumental and symbolic act for maintaining order and harmony. Morality, that which appeals to a higher good, is typically codified by societal conventions and expectations. Arguing whether the death penalty is moral would require appealing to what is traditionally acceptable, or asking whether it benefits society in some way. In this case the question of the death penalty is a pragmatic one.

A society based on liberalism is characterized by the mutual collaboration of free and equal individuals working towards certain ends, with the most general end being the growth and flourishing of all of its constituent citizens. This is a feature of life more generally. Laws are created to preserve order and to ensure that this collaboration occurs justly, where liberty and equality are preserved for all. Why do we use the death penalty? This form of punishment is reserved for those who undermine the harmonious order, order that is instantiated to ensure the well-being of society, and is used for punishing the most heinous of crimes, most typically those committed by individuals who murder.

I argue that the death penalty is justifiable on moral and prudential grounds, that the authority established in the formation of the government, in which all citizens tacitly consent to, has ultimate power to exercise its interpretation of the law in order to justify punishments. Speaking broadly, this authority is derived not from its power to exercise rule, but because of the constitutional document which established it and the tacit consent of its citizens to exist under the rule of this document.

Continue reading “Justification for the Death Penalty”

Socratic Philosophy as Preparation for Death

This essay argues that Socrates provides a clear and consistent attitude towards philosophy that is justified by and grounded in religious conviction. The core of Socrates philosophical beliefs concern his convictions regarding death, with him stating that “the primary aim of those who practice philosophy in the proper manner is to practice for dying and death.”(64a) His philosophy provides a method for ensuring that the soul will enter Hades in its purest form and attain the highest reward by being granted access into heaven. (113;114c). Socrates’ definition of philosophy is thus inextricably bound to his religious convictions. Although philosophy’s literal translation means “lover of wisdom,” it was not just an activity that one casually partook in, but a mode of living that pervaded every aspect of life as a way of transcending the physical world and possessing near-divine wisdom.(82c) Continue reading “Socratic Philosophy as Preparation for Death”

bin Laden

(Overhearing someone say that Osama’s death will save the lives of innocent people): Last time I checked his death and these wars had nothing to do with preventing innocent deaths, otherwise we’d be doing things a little differently.

What it does have to with is preserving American ideals, such as freedom. And as far as America is concerned, innocent or not, there is no limit to the lives we’ll sacrifice for those ideals.

We should reflect on whether the American ideals we’re preserving are universal enough to extend to other people of the world; if they are, what would we be doing differently? if they aren’t, well, I think we’re doing everything accordingly.

But I have to ask myself if the inequality bred by this double standard jeopardizes the legitimacy of the very ideals we’re trying to preserve?

Additionally, Osama’s death is more symbolic than practical. His death has no affect on the insidious tentacles of Al Queda’s vast network; cutting a head off a hydra is no immediate cause for celebration. If anything, we just made him a martyr, and fueled their enthusiasm and hate. hm..


Random thoughts on death:

The ultimate meaning is found in death. We procrastinate the inevitable by creating death denying illusions.

I was looking for meaning and running into dead ends. I recently read up on Ernest Becker and his thoughts illuminated a good deal of what’s been on my mind.

We are going to die. The more we deny this fact, the greater confidence we can maintain in our ability to be. Death reminds us of our frailty.

Our world is divided into the physical world and the symbolic world. We create symbolic meaning in order to transcend the physical. The physical world is marked by change, by finality, by inconsistency, by impermanence. The symbolic world is enduring, consistent, eternal.

Beliefs and ideologies manifest as mere illusions. I look around me and I see self-deceived masses. I ask myself why people adopt such deceptions. For what reason? These deceptive beliefs offer a denial of death. We are the hero in our beliefs. We seek eternal life through our beliefs and ideologies. They provide life by allowing us to procrastinate death. Traditionally, any different belief is a direct threat to our life and should be annihilated.  We do not practice tolerance to differences. There can only be one illusion. If we are wrong, we must reconcile and face our death.

Life wants to deny death. It creates devices such as technology in order to prolong life. All knowledge is a death defying mechanism. Humans want to be god, want to maintain an eternal life.

Content, comfortable. No one wants to die. We all want to live. Dominate or be dominated. Who’s illusion is stronger? Has stronger evidence?

More thoughts later.

Watch this movie

Thoughts on the denial of death

Death: all is in terms of death; death is metaphor for all meaning

Bad/ death= Good/ life
nietzche elucidated this in genealogy of morals:
Denial of death= Will to power

Anything that threatens life becomes fundamental.
Conservative is preservation
Progressive is growth

Two choices (one metaphor); Dichotomies:
Physical & symbolic
Body & mind (aka spirit/soul)
Beliefs are devices which deny death or Procrastinate our finality
life or death
Oppressor or oppressed
Subject or object
Good or bad
Busy or lazy
Right or wrong
Physical or spiritual
Point or relation
Love or hate

When you accept death, you are free.

Sin is being toward death. Man is a being toward death.  (Heidegger said man is a being-toward-death)

3/ delta: Us-> otherness-> ?
Why is 2 important? Binary
3? strength, life, eternity
7? Perfection, completion

Examine etymology of ‘subject’ and ‘object’

All ideologies (religion/ gov/ nation/ culture) perform death denial and transcend us from the inevitability of death.
Death reminds of the finitude of existence. It allows inconsistency.
Death destabilizes.
Anything that stabilizes, performs to sustain, is adopted. is an illusion.

Treat others different-> causes division and threatens life.
Treat others as same-> reinforces life illusion

Any difference is perceived as threat to life/ illusion/ denial of death.

All difference- that is, all threat- must be dealt with through total annihilation.

All human activity is an act to deny death.
All human activity is characterized by the denial of death.

Iraq war? Purpose? Create threat. Distant threat (ideological/ symbolic threat) that doesn’t threaten physical life.  Consilidates ppl’s ideologies. Preserves ideology. Creates false binary perception.
Truth/ falsity exists. Logical positivism, could exist. Doesn’t matter. Towards what matters. end ultimately matters. Conclusion matters. we start with ends, then justify means, elaborate means, beliefs, concepts, morals.  All ends Can be justified with premises- created or preexisting. But do they/ premises correspond to other means? must produce a harmony between means. (See Velleman)

Truth/ false doesn’t matter. Asks wrong question. What matters is conclusion and who that serves. Validity is besides the point.

Which illusion did you buy? Which best deludes the inevitability of your death? The most spiritual are the most threatened.


When a person experiences death, it is not them who dies, but the world that dies to them. When we experience death, it is not that we die, it is the world, our world, that dies.  We do not stop happening to the world; the world stops happening to us.

In a moment I will continue writing my novel and finish my 1700 words for the day. This business of writing has allowed me to focus my energies by causing me to command thought and action at will. The goal to write every day, do or die, has forced me to produce without hesitation.


I’ve done every drug but heroin. I’ve tripped on so much fucking acid dozens of hits. Soo many shrooms; pounds homegrown and picked from pastures. I’ve done so much blow- innumerable ounces upon ounces. I’ve ate so many fuckin ecstasy- dozens upon dozens. I’ve smoked god knows how much reefer- pounds upon pounds. I’ve ate so much DXM. I’ve chomped down so many pain killers. and even more benzodiazepines like xanax klonopins and valiums. I’ve eatin so much fuckin ritalin. I’ve overdosed more times than I could ever remember. I’ve vomited enough to fill several bathtubs. im had more sex with the most beautiful girls. the most fucked up girls. I’ve been to more parties and met more people than most people do in a lifetime. I’ve done more keg stands. more beer bongs. more bongs. more fights. I’ve knocked out so many kids. I’ve been in so many brawls. I’ve got so many scars. I’ve cut myself so many times. I’ve burned myself so many times. I’ve pierced myself. I’m tatted. I’ve dyed my hair. I’ve been homeless. I’ve failed high school. I’ve had friends overdose to death; two of my closest friends hung themselves. till their eyes popped out of their head and their face went purple and blue like a infectious pimple. I’ve lost 30 pounds from not eating. I’ve gained 30 pounds from wanting to get big. I’ve crashed cars. I’ve flipped cars. I’ve had anxiety till I vomited. I struggle with it every day. I’ve had depression until I’ve overdosed into severe unconsciousness. depression where i prayed i wouldn’t wake up for years on end, where breathing became painful. I’ve seen so much fucked up shit. I’ve moved twelve times in six states and attended eleven different schools, public, private, boarding, all boys, very small, very large. I’ve been all over the fuckin country. I’ve seen the richest rich; the poorest poor. There isn’t much I haven’t seen; nothing surprises me.  I’ve been fucked up for weeks. Months. Can’t see straight; can’t remember last month. Last week. Last night. Don’t remember what the fucks been going on. I’ve been to concerts, raves, clubs, bars, strip clubs, pool parties, bonfires extravaganzas, mega bashes, basement parties, mansions, yacht parties. You fuckin name it. My god. None of that has ever left me the least bit content. Nope. Not at all. When that shits over I usually felt worse. The memories are good, but I can’t live in the past and forget about the now. That shit is all stupid. It fucks you up. Kills you. It’s a hole. A bottomless pit that eats you up and you fall faster and faster and it gets harder and harder to examine what reality looks like and you crash. Hard. I’m done living like that. life will be there when you wake up. Unless you never wake up. you make it good and worthwhile.