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Raymond "Ray" Kurzweil (born 1948) is an American inventor and futurist. He is involved in fields as diverse as optical character recognition (OCR), text-to-speech synthesis, speech recognition technology, and electronic[…]

Ray Kurzweil is the author of the book How to Create a Mind. The first question we have for him is “why create a mind?”

Ray Kurzweil: You could say it’s the goal of art and science to understand ourselves and our brain, our thinking is the most interesting aspect of ourselves.  The three reasons to reverse engineer the brain; one, is to do a better job of fixing it. I quote one of the pioneers of the New Orleans Plant for Parkinson's Disease in saying we're now treating the brain of circuitry, not as a chemical soup, which drugs like SSRI, drugs just treat it like a soup of chemicals.  It is in fact an elaborate network and if we actually understand how that network works we can do a much better job of overcoming problems and limitations, and for that matter we're all limited.

Secondly, we can create more intelligent machines. We've done a fairly good job without actually understanding how the human brain works, but now that we're beginning to get biologically inspired methods, this is going to greatly accelerate AI.

And thirdly, it'll provide more insight into ourselves.  We can't understand ourselves if we don't understand how our brains work. Our identity, our consciousness, the concept of free will is closely associated with the brain. Now it's not exactly the same thing.  We can talk about how these philosophical concepts relate to the brain, but you can't really have a discussion about consciousness, free will, and identity without talking about the brain.

Intelligence is also what we need to solve all the major challenges of humanity and of the planet and so on.  We need more intelligence. In fact, we won't be able to solve the major problems that we have without more intelligence.  So for all those reasons, it's important to understand how the brain works, and it's really only very recently, I would say in the last year, that we have enough information to actually make intelligent statements about intelligence and how human intelligence works.

Directed/Produced by Jonathan Fowler, Elizabeth Rodd, and Dillon Fitton