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Google engineering director Ray Kurzweil, never a man to shy away from bold predictions about the future, says he believes that advances in medical technology will enable human beings to be immortal within 20 years.

Speaking at the Global Future 2045 World Congress, CNBC reports (via BGR) Kurzweil’s prediction that the pace of medical developments will be such that life expectancy will be continually extended such that we will never die.

The life expectancy was 20 years 1,000 years ago. … We doubled it in 200 years. This will go into high gear within 10 and 20 years from now, probably less than 15 we will be reaching that tipping point where we add more time than has gone by because of scientific progress … 

As an example, Kurzweil cited the idea of combing stem cells with 3D printers to enable on-demand replacement of human tissue, and the concept of reprogramming biology.

There’s already fantastic therapies to overcome heart disease, cancer and every other neurological disease based on this idea of reprogramming the software,” Kurzweil said. “These are all examples of treating biology as software. …These technologies will be a 1,000 times more powerful than they were a decade ago. …These will be 1,000 times more powerful by the end of the decade. And a million times more powerful in 20 years.”

The more you read about his thinking on this, the less crazy the idea sounds. If he’s right, and the technology ever becomes sufficiently affordable to be within the reach of ordinary people, we ain’t seen nothing yet when it comes to the challenge of over-population.