Archive for June 7th, 2008

Crazy People — Ted Talks

Saturday, June 7th, 2008

These two talks are given by crazy people.

I’d read Ray Kurzweil’s books before, and he fully admits to being on the fringe of things. His core vision, that the rate of change is increasing (is a second order equation) but that people view the rate of change as constant (as a first order equation) is undoubtedly true. His extrapolations from that observation, however, seem rather far fetched at times. He is certain that some Baby Boomers will be effectively immortal due to vast improvements in medical technology that are just around the corner.

Susan Blackwell looks, acts and sounds crazy. Her central thesis is that intelligent life is not what it appears to be: it is a second order replicator. The first order replicator was the advent of life on Earth: life replicates itself, which puts it into competition with itself, with leads to evolution, which leads to self-improvement without need of a creator. With the advent of people, we now have cultural imitations, memes, which are constantly created and struggle with one another in a very similar way for survival. Digital networks are creating a third order replicator.

I nearly stopped this video three times since I felt it was so preposterous, but ended up feeling that there really is something here. It helps that the original idea was formed by Richard Dawkins in The Selfish Gene, one of the best books on biology and evolution that I have ever read.