Monday, December 30, 2013

#850: Ray Kurzweil

The infamous Danie Krugel is South African and hence disqualified. That means that our next entry is Ray Kurzweil. Yes, Kurzweil. Now, Kurzweil has a large fan base, and that is not without reason. The guy is a genius and one of big pioneers of optical character recognition, computer-assisted reading and digital music synthesis. His technology optimism and view about the singularity, while often bordering on the ridiculous, is also probably more positive than negative for the development of society. At least he’ll get a pass on that one, even though he doesn’t really seem to understand nanotechnology, and doesn’t quite grasp the potentials and limits of nanobots.

Far more questionable sides of his efforts include his motivational courses at the Singularity University, as well as his failure to grasp that knowledge about computer science is not directly transferable to biology – he just doesn’t understand how the brain works and even less how the genome works: the genome does not work like a blueprint containing all the information needed to build a brain. It just doesn’t, and when he is promoting his singularity idea, Kurzweil doesn’t quite get that, much to the chagrin and exasperation of those who do.

Yet even that could be pardoned, and is surely not enough to qualify Kurzweil as a loon. What clinches the matter is his promotion of nutritional woo. Kurzweil is very fond of nutritional supplements and alkaline water. That he uses them himself is one thing. But Kurzweil also sells nutritional supplements for longevity on his website with Terry Grossman. The purported effects of the products are, of course, just as well backed up by evidence as such products are in general. These are products that “assist detoxification” and have “noticeable anti-ageing effects”. He also pushes anti-science news (such as pushing a particular anti-science spin on this story). That is unpardonable. It is pure quackery, backed up by conspiracy theories and pseudoscience.

Diagnosis: Seems to be evolving into a standard woo-meister. Kurzweil is a super-technologist, but too many factors suggest a profound lack of understanding of science and even critical thinking. His promotion of altmed quackery really settles it. Kurzweil is a loon. End of story.

No comments:

Post a Comment