I interviewed Ray recently after a New York screening of the must-see film about him, Transcendent Man. Ray expounded enthusiastically like he does in the film: "We are applying nanotechnology to solar panels. And the cost per watt indeed is coming down at a rapid rate. The use of solar energy and the total amount we are producing is on an exponential rise: it's been doubling every two years for the last twenty years. So it's only eight doublings from meeting all our energy needs. And we have 10,000 times more sunlight than we need to do that."
Some think Ray's ideas about technology are dangerous. A few years back a Rolling Stone magazine feature referred to Ray as "America's scariest techno prophet."
And skeptics think Ray's ideas are far fetched. Yet many other distinguished world scientists don't think Ray's incredible vision of the future is far fetched and are now developing magical technologies like nano solar cells.
Only twenty years ago most could not imagine how the Internet and communication technology would transform the world. Scientist Michio Kaku reflects in his new book Physics of the Future: "Predictions for the future, with few exceptions, have always underestimated pace of technological progress. History we are told, over and over and over again is written by the optimists, not the pessimists."
So, is Ray Kurzweil too much an optimist? I surely hope so. --Paul McGinniss