The Singularity is Nigh
Forget fighting off the Grim Reaper with devout attendance at the local New York Sports Club and endless self-quantifying. That’s not moonshotty enough for Larry Page. Luckily, he’s got the resources of an enormous American corporation at his disposal, which is how Calico, Google’s new anti-aging initiative, came about.
This isn’t like living through the prologue of a singularitarian novel, nope, not at all.
The Singularity is Nigh
Google already provides its employees with nap pods, free meals and cute little bikes to shuttle them between buildings on campus, but one thing they haven’t yet figured out how to work into employee agreements is access to the fountain of youth.
But this is Google–dream big! The father of the Singularity, Ray Kurzweil, is toiling away in Mountain View creating an artificial brain. So why shouldn’t they expect a future in which they offer their employees life extension as a perk?
The Singularity is Nigh
Ray Kurzweil’s official title at Google is director of engineering, but we’re starting to suspect Larry keeps him around as a kind of science-fictional mascot for the programmers. Case in point: This Wired Q&A, in which he reminds everyone of his belief that one day soon, death will hold no dominion over technologists.
After chatting about Steve Jobs (fun fact, it’s actually impossible to get into the Wired offices without passing a brief quiz about Steve Jobs*), interviewer Stephen Levy asked his thoughts on one of the Silicon Valley demigod’s famous quotes: “Death is very likely the single best invention of life. It’s life’s change agent.”
Well, Ray Kurzweil thinks that’s bullshit.
Last month, Ray Kurzweil, the unofficial president of the singularity booster club, took a job at Google. This, of course, inspired much breathless speculation about just how a company in possession of an enormous treasure trove of our data plans to employ such a thinker.
Well today we got a bit of a hint, thanks to an event at Singularity U., wherein X Prize chairman Peter Diamandis and Mr. Kurzweil interviewed each other. Vivek Wadhwa, naturally, live-tweeted their discussion from the audience–and it sounds like a doozy:
Gift Guide 2012
The National Rifle Association unpublished its Facebook page in the aftermath of the tragic shootings in Newtown, Conn. [TechCrunch]
Goooood Morning Silicon Alley!
What do you get the person who’s intent to live forever? Diamonds may last as long as your giftee’s hopeful lifespan, but we’re guessing the futurist in your life is more into the doctrine of Ray Kurzweil than Harry Winston.
The Future Will See You Now
This is a guest post from Gary Sharma (aka “The Guy with the Red Tie”), founder and CEO of GarysGuide and proud owner of a whole bunch of black suits, white shirts and, at last count, over 40 red ties. You can reach him at gary [at] garysguide.com.
Mayor Bloomberg and the NYCEDC recently launched a prototyping competition, where six lucky winning teams will get an opportunity to prototype new products while receiving studio space from sponsor NYDesigns and mentorship from industry leaders Shapeways, Adafruit Industries, and Honeybee Robotics. Alison Hodgson and Miquela Craytor from the NYCEDC will be at the Hardware Startup Meetup today to explain the competition and take any questions.
I Want to Live Forever
A few weeks ago, a 23-year-old girl named Kim Suozzi took to Reddit with a tragic backstory: during her senior year of college, she was diagnosed with a rare, aggressive form of brain cancer that–after many treatment options had been explored–was deemed untreatable. Ms. Suozzi wrote that she has a 6 to 10 month median survival rate. “I have to prepare to die,” she wrote painfully matter-of-factly. “In a way, I am fortunate because the lesion is primarily in my brain stem (controls things like breathing), so I will likely die before the tumor spreads to the areas central to who I am.”
Ms. Suozzi was writing to Reddit to ask for donations so that she could afford her dying wish. Fund-raisers for cancer patients on the social news site are nothing new, particularly because potent group pathos is a familiar chord plucked in the community, one that has proven to be a compelling driving force. What makes Ms. Suozzi’s case especially interesting is what exactly her dying wish is: the 23-year-old St. Louis resident wants to have her body cryogenically frozen:
The situation on Alyssa Vance’s couch would have been best described as a cuddle puddle—a tangle of hair-petting and belly-stroking and neck-nuzzling, seven people deep. It was Friday night in late June in the living room of her one-bedroom apartment at The Caroline, a “white-glove service” building in Chelsea. Ms. Vance, a transgender former Google intern with the lips of a Renaissance statue, sat somewhere near the middle next to her girlfriend, Alice. Snuggling up on either end were a neuroscience Ph.D. from Columbia, a Yale grad student in applied mathematics, and a redhead in from Berkeley who “sells drugs on the Internet.” Across the room, a row of white chairs laid out expressly for Ms. Vance’s 21st birthday party stood abandoned in favor of the handsy human octopus.
The Observer hovered near the drinks table. Next to us, a ponytailed programmer from Morgan Stanley nibbled on a family-sized Trader Joe’s chocolate bar as we both stole glances at the pile-on.