Our ground time here will be brief

Ray Kurzweil believes that in twenty years, medical and technical advances will produce a robot small enough to wander throughout your body, doing whatever it’s been programmed to do, e.g., going inside any cell and reversing all the causes of aging by rebuilding the cell to a younger version of itself. If you do that to every cell in your body and keep doing this on a regular basis, you could (theoretically) live forever.

By 2030, Kurzweil believes, most of our fallible internal organs will have been replaced by tiny robots. We will have ‘eliminated the heart, lungs, red and white blood cells, platelets, pancreas, thyroid and all the other hormone-producing organs, kidney, bladder, liver, lower esophagus, stomach, small intestine, large intestine, and bowel. What we’ll have left at that point will be the skeleton, skin, sex organs, sensory organs, mouth and upper esophagus, and brain.’

Kurzweil’s father died of heart disease at fifty-eight. His grandfather died in his early forties. At thirty-five, Kurzweil himself was diagnosed with Type II diabetes, which he ‘cured’ with an extreme regimen involving hundreds of pills and intravenous treatments. He now takes 150 supplements and drinks eight to ten glasses of alkaline water and ten cups of green tea every day. He drinks several glasses of red wine a week (gotta love that resveratrol).

On weekends, he undergoes IV transfusions of chemical cocktails, which he believes will reprogram his biochemistry. He undergoes preemptive medical tests for many diseases and disorders, keeps detailed records of the content of his meals, and routinely measures the chemical composition of his own bodily fluids.

Kurzweil, now sixty-four, has joined Alcor Life Extension, a cryonics company. In the unlikely event of his death, his body will be chemically preserved, frozen in liquid nitrogen, and stored at an Alcor facility in the hope that future medical technology will be able to revive him.

Asked if being a singularitarian (someone who believes that technical progress will become so rapid that the near future will be qualitatively diffferent and impossible to predict) makes him happy, he said, ‘If you took a poll of primitive man, happiness would have consisted of getting a fire to light more easily, but we’ve expanded our horizon, and that kind of happiness is now the wrong thing to focus on. Extending our knowledge – casting a wider net of consciousness – is the purpose of life.’

He wants not so much to live as never to die.
He seems to me the saddest person on the planet.
I empathize with him completely.

How literature saved my life, David Shields