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December 3, 2010
Guess the Author: Revealed
Well, as those of you who searched for the phrases found, the person responsible for the nonsense quoted here is none other than Ray Kurzweil, who with his co-author Terry Grossman published Fantastic Voyage: Live Long Enough to Live Forever in 2004.
Kurzweil is, of course, a widely quoted futurist. He's also an extremely accomplished inventor and a very intelligent man; there's really no doubt about either of those statements. But his techno-optimism, which I broadly share, still leaves me sounding like H. L. Mencken with a head cold. I think that all kinds of wonderful things are possible, and so does Kurzweil - but he thinks that they're not only possible, but that they're happening right now.
I've had occasion to look over Kurzweil's predictions before. What worries me about his futurism is that whenever he starts talking about a field that I know well, he suddenly sounds to me as if he's gone off the rails. And when that happens, well, you have to wonder about the rest of it.
These latest thoughts were prompted by an article by John Rennie, an acidic look at Kurzweil's prediction record in the areas that he should know best (computing, engineering, etc.) His record in medicine is no improvement. And seeing stuff like this alkaline-water nonsense (which I really didn't know he was into) makes me reluctantly mark him even further down. Honestly, if you go for that stuff, you've lowered your defenses against dumpster-loads of hoo-hah. It's very, very hard for me to take seriously anyone who pushes the health benefits of "alkalinized water". But people do.
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