X-Message-Number: 20455
From: "Mark Plus" <>
Subject: Wired.com: "Ray Kurzweil's Plan: Never Die "
Date: Mon, 18 Nov 2002 17:26:54 -0800

Ray Kurzweil's Plan: Never Die  By Kristen Philipkoski
Story location: http://www.wired.com/news/culture/0,1284,56448,00.html

08:59 AM Nov. 18, 2002 PT

NEWPORT BEACH, California -- Ray Kurzweil, celebrated author, inventor and 
geek hero, plans to live forever.

No, not just in the history books, but as a living, breathing, healthy human 
being. Just in case he does happen to die, he'll have his body cryogenically 
frozen and preserved by Alcor, the company that the late baseball Hall of 
Famer Ted Williams now calls home, to be thawed when the technology to 
reanimate him has been developed.

At 35, Kurzweil was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes. Unsatisfied with his 
medical treatment, he stopped taking insulin injections and crafted his own 
diet and supplement program. Today, at 54, he shows no signs of the disease.

He plans to outwit the medical establishment on a grander scale by achieving 
eternal life.

Taking a break from the Alcor Extreme Life Extension Conference in Newport 
Beach on Sunday, Kurzweil laid out his personal plan for eternal life.

Wired News: When do you believe we will have the ability to unfreeze people 
and bring them back to life?

Ray Kurzweil: I believe we'll have the technology for reanimation in 50 
years. My best guess would be 40, but probably not more than 50. It is a 
scary prospect. My biggest concern is the loss of control -- the possibility 
that the reanimation would be done prematurely. So you'd wake up but you'd 
really be in an impaired state, like locked-in syndrome. There's a profound 
loss of control. I mean I have enough trouble looking after my interests 
when I'm alive and kicking. To look after your interests when you're not 
only frozen in a vat of liquid nitrogen, but don't even have legal status as 
a person....

Alcor seems like a responsible organization, I think they would not 
reanimate people before it was going to work, but who knows who's going to 
be in charge or in control 40 or 50 years from now? But there's not really 
an argument against it, because the cryonics philosophy is that it's not 
guaranteed to work. They acknowledge that there's a good chance that it 
won't work, but there's a chance it'll work, and it definitely won't work if 
you don't do it. My primary strategy for living through the 21st century and 
beyond is not to die. I think that's more likely to work than cryonics, but 
they're not mutually exclusive.

WN: Will you have your entire body preserved or just your head?

RK: I think there's some part of our identity and valuable information in 
our bodies. There's more in our brains, but there's some in our bodies as 
well. It gets into some technical issues. There's a better way of preserving 
the brain, which they haven't been able to do with the whole body yet. The 
vitrification process, which does a better job of preserving structural 
integrity in the cells, they do with the head but not with the body. At any 
rate, I'd go for the grade A plan.

One reason I guess it's hard to think about the decision is it's hard to 
deal with your own mortality. I think your own death is a profound motivator 
for a lot of behavior, even more than sex. As I mentioned in my talk I think 
that that meme is very powerful: The idea that life is short and we're only 
here for a short time. That's a very powerful meme in human thinking and I 
don't believe that. I don't think we have to die. And the technology and the 
means of making that a reality is close at hand.

I actually think we have the knowledge right now, today. Not to live forever 
if knowledge were to stop, but if you combine the knowledge today with the 
observation that we're actually on the knee of the curve in terms of 
acceleration of knowledge and these technologies, and that the full 
blossoming of the biotech revolution will be here within a couple decades, 
we can remain healthy through that period and then pick up with that 
technology. In every different aspect of the aging and disease process we 
have ideas for how to get them under control. I believe we'll do that within 
a couple of decades.

WN: Can you describe your daily efforts toward life extension?

RK: My diet is low carbohydrate. Not as low as the Atkins diet, but I pretty 
strictly avoid high-glycemic-index carbs so my carbohydrates are mainly 
vegetables. I eat fish and other omega-3 fats and a lot of protein. We 
actually have invented some food products that are low-fat, 
low-carbohydrate, no sugar, low-calorie, but have the taste appeal of 
high-carb products, like cake with frosting, and puddings and breads, hot 
cereal and things like that. They'll be called Ray and Terry's Health 
Products (after Dr. Terry Grossman, with whom Kurzweil is writing the book A 
Short Guide to a Long Life). And also a lot of supplement products to 
implement the kind of things I talked about. I take about 150 supplements a 

WN: Do you feel healthy?

RK: I feel good, I have a lot of energy, I do a lot of exercise, mostly 
walking and some upper-body weights, but mostly I walk four to five miles a 
day, which is also time to relax and let my mind think about things in an 
unstructured way, so it's kind of meditative. I'm very productive, I sleep 
well, my relationships are going well, my life's going well and I feel good.

WN: How does Ramona (Kurzweil's 25-year-old female rock star alter-ego) feel 
about extreme life extension?

RK: A virtual person doesn't have to worry about life extension. When she 
was first created she was 25 and that was two years ago and she's still 25. 
In the virtual world they've already mastered remaining at an optimal age. 
But I do feel that we have other people inside of us. I'm one of the few 
people who has had the experience of looking in the mirror and seeing a 
completely different manifestation of themselves. That's what the experience 
is like. It's like you're looking in the mirror and instead of seeing what I 
generally see in the mirror I saw this 25-year-old woman. And I could kind 
of get into being her. I would speak, and I learned to sing somewhat, and my 
voice would come out as a female voice, and I actually had some coaches to 
learn how to move and talk like a young female rock singer from New Orleans.

It's really quite a trip to become someone else in that way. It really is 
quite liberating. We have other people inside us that we'd like to express. 
People's identity becomes very limited and attached to the physical body 
they have.

This experience will be quite ubiquitous I'd say in 10 years from now, until 
we can go inside the nervous system and actually create virtual reality from 
within. That's more of a late 2020s scenario. There are many exciting 
reasons you'd want to do that. First of all it's fun in terms of games and 
role-playing. It's educational: You can assign a student to be Ben Franklin 
and make a virtual Constitutional Congress. It's a way of exploring 
different types of relationships, heterosexual couples could both change 
their genders, which would be very cool. And we could explore our own 
psychology and develop more empathy for what it's like to be a different 
type of person.

WN: What's your next project?

RK: I've got lots of projects. I've got two books nearing completion: A 
Short Guide to a Long Life, and ... The Singularity Is Near, which will be a 
sort of continuation of the series The Age of Intelligent Machines.... It's 
about the kinds of changes that will take civilization beyond 2029.

I do a lot of public speaking, and I write articles. I have a number of 
other projects. Medical Learning Company is a major venture where we have a 
simulation of some human bodies in the form of a virtual patient. It's like 
a sim doctor game and it's actually used for doctor education. FatKat stands 
for Financial Accelerating Transactions from Kurzweil Adaptive Technologies. 
It's applying my field, which is pattern recognition, to stock market 
transactions. KurzweilAI.net is another communication project. We have about 
500 articles from 70 big thinkers. We're engaged in a joint venture with IDG 
to launch the Kurzweil report, which will be a paid subscription newsletter, 
using the editorial staff of KurzweilAI.net.

Kurzweil Educational Systems is a reading machine company that I founded. We 
sold it and bought it back and that's a very successful private company that 
makes reading systems for the blind and also for kids with dyslexia. It's 
the leading software product for kids with dyslexia.

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