Nasa and Google fund futurology school

Google and Nasa back controversial futurologist Ray Kurzweil's latest educational venture
Google and Nasa back controversial futurologist Ray Kurzweil's latest educational venture

Ray Kurzweil is an extreme example of that peculiar brand of American futurologist for whom technology is unquestionably able to provide the ultimate answer to life, the universe and everything.

And that answer is, TechRadar is reliably informed, NOT forty-two.

Kurzweil, a US inventor and philosopher of science, gave up his job as a computer scientist in the 1980s and turned his hand to predicting a bright, technologically enhanced future for humanity. Since then he has had his ideas heavily publicised, discussed and criticised in the media.

Kurzweil's Singularity University will be bankrolled by Google and US space agency Nasa, with a campus based at Nasa's Silicon Valley campus in California.

AI, nanotech, biotech

The institution will offer courses in artificial intelligence, nanotechnology and biotechnology, and gets its name from the futurologist's 2005 book The Singularity is Near.

For those that haven't read it, you basically need to know one thing - 'the Singularity' refers to the point at which (in the near future according to Kurzweil) AI and computing technology becomes more intelligent than humans and will enable us to solve the problems of global warming, poverty, famine and disease.

"The law of accelerating returns means technology eventually will be a million times more powerful than it is today and cause profound transformation," Kurzweil told Associated Press after he announced that he was to become Chancellor of the Google-backed Uni.

"I wanna live forevaaaaaaaah!"

The Singularity University will charge $25,000 for a nine-week course and plans to open its doors to its first class of 30 students this summer.

"We are anchoring the university in what is in the lab today, with an understanding of what's in the realm of possibility in the future," one of Kurzweil's investors told the Financial Times.

"The day before something is truly a breakthrough, it's a crazy idea," he added.

Talking of crazy ideas, Kurzweil believes he is going to live forever and gobbles down over a 100 supplement pills a day and constantly checks around 50 health indicators.

The Register notes that "Douglas Hofstadter, the Pulitzer prizewinning author and professor of cognitive science at Indiana University compared Kurzweil's ideas to a blend of very good food and 'the craziest sort of dog excrement'."

Adam Hartley