Ray Kurzweil and the Conquering of Mount Improbable: An Essay by Extropia DaSilva


What would be a good visual image for the 21st century?

One candidate might be what Damien Broderick called ‘the spike’; a chart that shows exponential growth over time. The person most commonly associated with such charts is Ray Kurzweil. His lectures and books are full of them, and there has been much debate over their implications.

But I think a better image is ‘Mount Improbable’. Invented by Richard Dawkins, the mountain’s appearance depends on your point of view. Dawkins wrote, “dwarfed like insects, thwarted mountaineers crawl and scrabble along the foot, gazing hopelessly at the sheer unobtainable heights”. This image was intended to show the sheer improbability of random chance assembling something as complex as an eye.

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