Influencers: Ray Kurzweil, Transcendent Man documentary

Ray Kurzweil is many things: a computer scientist, inventor, multimillionaire, New York Times best-selling author, futurist, and, as Stylesight recently found out at Bread & Butter Berlin, a muse for Cheap Monday designers, who took inspiration from his theory of the Singularity for the F/W 11 collection.

Kurzweil’s life and work are featured in a new documentary, Transcendent Man, which tracks the iconoclast on his world travels presenting ideas from his book, The Singularity is Near: When Humans Transcend Biology.

The Singularity is Kurzweil’s best known and provocative idea, describing a time when human beings will combine wholly with computers allowing for infinitely expandable intelligence and life expectancy. Underlying this theory is Kurzweil’s law of accelerating returns, which states that technological advancements have been occurring exponentially since time began. Ultimately, these exponential advances reach a point where growth expands so rapidly it wipes out linear models of advancement, changing history and evolution forever.

Using this law Kurzweil has made a number of prescient predictions. In the 70s he predicted the current state of the Internet, human genome sequencing, and also pinpointed 1998 as the year when a computer would beat a human chess champion, an event that actually occurred in 1997, when IBM’s Deep Blue defeated Garry Kasparov.

New York, San Jose and Los Angles have hosted Transcendent Man viewings, with future showings in Boston, London and San Francisco. The film features original music by Phillip Glass and is available on DVD or digital download.

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