I learned about Kurzweil's theories a few years ago, and I watched a few of his talks online. Kurzweil is smart. I acknowledge that. And, in fact, it's difficult to actually discredit his theories on their own terms. If I have it right, his basic premise is that what he thinks of as progress (note that I don't necessarily subscribe to the same definition of progress, but that's irrelevant for a moment) increases exponentially as time increases (again, he makes the assumption that time is linear and moves in a particular direction...or that time is real, for that matter.) With that as the basis of the theory it's difficult to say that he's wrong that civilization is actually an evolutionary step because the very fundamentals of the theory imply that it is impossible to see beyond your current "level of evolution" to the "next level" because the next level is exponentially more "advanced" in ways you can't even imagine. (Unless, of course, you're Ray Kurzweil. And then you can predict what the future will look like, and it will most likely involve uploading consciousness into machines in order to live forever. And I'm not making that part up. That's really what these people dream about.) Now, in this context you can't even argue that civilization will collapse as a result of the instability of the foundations that prop up civilization because the counterargument would be that with exponential progress tomorrow's technologies will solve all of today's problems even if you can't see how that's possible. It's not your fault that you can't see how it's possible. It's just that technology is getting better in such a manner that it outpaces your imagination. Note that I don't necessarily agree with Kurzweil's theory. I actually think it's bogus and wishful thinking on the part of those addicted to civilization. But I'm just saying the the theory is one that's difficult to argue with on its own terms
What I think, though, is that it misses the point entirely. The very premise of the Kurzweilian singularitopia vision is that humans and human-centered achievements are the only things worth valuing. From that perspective it doesn't matter if we drive all other animals and plant species to extinction. Nor does it matter if we destroy the water systems. As long as technology can stay one step ahead then everything is okay because it will keep humans and human achievements alive. Yet for me (and most everyone who reads this, I bet) this is an insane premise. And that's where I think the real flaw of Kurzweil's world-view is. Oh, that and the fact that as a human I actually like trees and animals and clean water and clean air and a world with a natural landscape unpolluted by cities and mines and airports and factories and all the other atrocities of civilization.