Volume 1, Issue 1 
1st Quarter, 2006

The Physics of Immortality, Threats to Terran Society, & Self-Replicating Nanotechnology, and An Exchange Between Frank Tipler and Ray Kurzweil Regarding Ways to Avoid an End to the Universe

Frank Tipler, Ph.D. and Ray Kurzweil, Ph.D.

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That's how I'm going to answer Ray Kurzweil’s objection about constraints of these super-intelligent machines overcoming us. Ultimately, the laws of physics will keep them in line and you cannot repeal the laws of physics. Even super-intelligent machines can't handle that. But they will not want to because the laws of physics are going to enable them, indeed, require them to take over the universe, increase their power without limit with the power becoming total and infinite at the final singularity.

Ray Kurzweil: Whether or not the speed of light is a limit is very important. If it's not a limit at all, we might discuss some of the limits of how much intelligence can we infuse (in a meter of matter) and ultimately we will saturate the matter and energy in our vicinity, whatever those limits may be and then expand out from there. I've estimated that you can harness 10 to the 90th calculations per second in all the matter in the universe. But, how long will it take us to actually transmit those processes and transform the universe into intelligent matter and energy? Speed of light comes up prominently.

Frank Tipler: Yes, here you should have read my book.

Ray Kurzweil: It's not a limit then, maybe we could actually do it in a small number of centuries. If it is a limit, then it will take billions of years. So there are some speculations: wormholes that you could engineer, wormholes that may already be there. Hochberg and Thomas Kephart point out that shortly after the Big Bang, gravity was strong enough to provide the energy to spontaneously create a large number of self-stabilizing worm holes that might still be around.

Frank Tipler: If that were true, this process wouldn't work.

Ray Kurzweil: And then there are some experiments that need to be confirmed that have been criticized, but not been disproven, showing possible actual change in the speed of light over the last 2 billion years, differing by 4.5 parts in 10 to the 8th. Presumably, this happens not just because time has gone by; it's that conditions have changed. If there are subtle conditions that have changed, that opens the door enough for engineering to actually amplify those conditions.

So there are many different suggestions of ways of circumventing the speed of light by finding shortcuts through the wormholes or alternatively engineering changes in the speed of light. The universe apparently isn't expanding. You can actually identify galaxies that are moving away from each other at greater than the speed of light. That actually does not allow you to transmit information faster than the speed of light. So that exception does not actually help you very much. Anyway, I've mentioned a number of suggestions of overcoming the speed of light. What is your reaction to that?

Frank Tipler: Well, two answers. First of all, those suggestions definitely contradict the laws of physics as they are now understood. These people are aware of it. They know they are inventing new laws of physics. I propose something different. Rather than violate or find new laws of physics, I propose we transcend the speed of light barrier. There is a way to do that in the context of relativity itself and that's what I described in some detail in my book, The Physics of Immortality.

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