Futurist: immortality could be pricey

Covering the recent World Future Society’s annual meeting in Toronto, Michael Rogers, who is MSNBC's Practical Futurist, asks tongue in cheek, "what do futurists know?"

Assessing in particular what Ray Kurzweil, who will also be speaking at the ideaFestival in October, has to say, Rogers delicately makes a point about the high cost of living.

The highest profile futurist was keynote speaker Ray Kurzweil, the prolific inventor who has become a best-selling author with visionary books like “The Singularity is Near.”  In the category of here-and-now, Kurzweil showed off his latest invention, a remarkable portable reading device for the blind that verbally helps its owner photograph any piece of text — a clothing label, a menu, a sign on the wall — and then reads it aloud. Kurzweil also reviewed at breakneck pace his vision of the future, which involves both human-level artificial intelligence and stunning medical breakthroughs by 2020 — by which time, Kurzweil predicts, research will lengthen our lives by more than a year for every year we live.

Immortality? Probably not, but Kurzweil does suggest that if baby boomers just hold on for another fifteen years or so, they’re looking at a lot more lifespan than previously supposed....

And then of course there’s the human factor, which might well derail Kurzweil’s optimistic scenario: what if society decides they don’t want to pay the bills to make baby boomers a permanent fixture of the American landscape?