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The Outcome of Singularity is Unknown: Futurist Ray Kurzweil Greets Sold Out Crowd

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Ray Kurzweil and director Barry Ptolemy give a Q&A after the Transcendent Man screening in Los Angeles (Photo by Katherine Peach/LAist)
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By Katherine Peach/Special to LAist

The prolific technology guru Ray Kurzweil that foresaw the expansion of the Internet, the possibilities of services such as YouTube, and invented the synthesizer, graced the Westside for two nights for the screening of his documentary, Transcendent Man. Nearly selling out both nights, Angelenos flocked to see a coveted appearance by Kurzweil at the Laemmle’s Royal Theater Feb. 16 and 17.

The crowd Thursday night filled with a range of young and middle age viewers, who were treated to a opening monologue and extensive Q&A after the screening. Kurzweil said the film closely represents his ideals and does not blur his intentions in ways that can be perceived by outside media.

Kurzweil has been compared to Nostradamus for his spot-on predictions of technology and the future, as well as been likened to a lunatic. The theory of singularity suggests a complete merger of human and machine that will create super intelligent, immortal beings. The philosophical and spiritual ramifications are great as viewers contemplate what it means to be human and our role on this planet.

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Audience members lined up half way down two isles to get their chance to ask questions— he is known for catering to fans and does not skimp on his answers. When asked about the ramifications of longer life span and greater population if life spans are extended towards infinity, he rebuked the illusion that resources are limited. Food sources will only continue to be produced more efficiently and “unfortunate” practices such as factory farming will be eliminated.

“The reason that space seems limited is because people live in these inventions called cities,” he said. “Anyone that has taken a train lately knows there is plenty of space.”

The documentary is cinematically thoughtful with sweeping shots of the stars and visual graphs that track the technological timeline onscreen are thanks to work of director Barry Ptolemy. The film captures the optimism of Kurzweils’s views about the benefits technology will have for the human race, as well as featuring more than a few voices who are all too aware of how higher intelligence may not look kindly on its inferior creators. Everyone can agree that the outcome of singularity by definition is unknown.