When Bill Joy, the cofounder and Chief Scientist of Sun Microsystems, wrote his now famous essay in which he expressed concerns about the possibility of machines replacing human beings as the most intelligent species on earth, it made headlines even in the nontechnical press. Recently, at the Camden Technology Conference, Joy spoke on the topic once again, exhorting other attendants to begin working to prevent the human race’s loss of top spot on the evolutionary ladder. Afterwards, he worried that few of his colleagues took the threat seriously.
Raymond Kurzweil responded to Joy’s concerns, after a fashion, at the Foresight Institute’s Eighth Conference on Molecular Nanotechnology. It was his book, The Age of Spiritual Machines, that spurred Joy to write his cautionary tract. Kurzweil’s answer to Joy is that we should welcome the next stage of human evolution, which will be a merging with machines.