Inventor Ray Kurzweil is interviewed by h+ magazine about consciousness, brain modeling, global warming, and the Singularity.
SO: James Lovelock, the ecologist behind the Gaia hypothesis, came out a couple of years ago with a prediction that more than 6 billion people are going to perish by the end of this century, mostly because of climate change. Do you see the GNR technologies coming on line to mitigate that kind of a catastrophe?
RK: Absolutely. Those projections are based on linear thinking, as if nothing's going to happen over the next 50 or 100 years. It's ridiculous. For example, we're applying nanotechnology to solar panels. The cost per watt of solar energy is coming down dramatically. As a result, the amount of solar energy is growing exponentially. It's doubling every two years, reliably, for the last 20 years. People ask, "Is there really enough solar energy to meet all of our energy needs?" It's actually 10,000 times more than we need. And yes you lose some with cloud cover and so forth, but we only have to capture one part in 10,000. If you put efficient solar collection panels on a small percentage of the deserts in the world, you would meet 100% of our energy needs. And there's also the same kind of progress being made on energy storage to deal with the intermittency of solar. There are only eight doublings to go before solar meets 100% of our energy needs. We're awash in sunlight and these new technologies will enable us to capture that in a clean and renewable fashion. And then, geothermal — you have the potential for incredible amounts of energy.