Ray Kurzweil is the inventor of the most innovative and compelling technology of our era, an international authority on artificial intelligence, and one of our greatest living visionaries. Now he offers a framework for envisioning the twenty-first century--an age in which the marriage of human sensitivity and artificial intelligence fundamentally alters and improves the way we live. Kurzweil's prophetic blueprint for the future takes us through the advances that inexorably result in computers exceeding the memory capacity and computational ability of the human brain by the year 2020 (with human-level capabilities not far behind); in relationships with automated personalities who will be our teachers, companions, and lovers; and in information fed straight into our brains along direct neural pathways. Optimistic and challenging, thought-provoking and engaging, The Age of Spiritual Machines is the ultimate guide on our road into the next century.
According to the law of accelerating returns, explains futurist Kurzweil (The Age of Intelligent Machines), technological gains are made at an exponential rate. In his utopian vision of the 21st century, our lives will change not merely incrementally but fundamentally. The author is the inventor of reading and speech-recognition machines, among other technologies, but he isn't much of a writer. Using clunky prose and an awkward dialogue with a woman from the future, he sets up the history of evolution and technology and then offers a whirlwind tour through the next 100 years. Along the way, he makes some bizarre predictions. If Kurzweil has it right, in the next few decades humans will download books directly into their brains, run off with virtual secretaries and exist "as software," as we become more like computers and computers become more like us. Other projections--e.g., that most diseases will be reversible or preventable--are less strange but seem similarly Panglossian. Still others are more realizable: human-embedded computers will track the location of practically anyone, at any time. More problematic is Kurzweil's self-congratulatory tone. Still, by addressing (if not quite satisfactorily) the overpowering distinction between intelligence and consciousness, and by addressing the difference between a giant database and an intuitive machine, this book serves as a very provocative, if not very persuasive, view of the future from a man who has studied and shaped it. B&w illustrations.
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great book, but no editing
Simply put the book itself is outstanding. Kurzweil's ideas are the stuff of science fiction, but a science fiction that will come to pass. And soon. Well reasoned and intelligent, I highly recommend this book.
That said, this ebook appears to have been scanned, OCR'd (optical character recognition) and then NOT edited. There are so many errors it is distracting. I am very disappointed that Apple couldn't do a better job in converting this text into an ebook.
Five stars for the book, minus one star for the abysmal editing.
Mind blowing book
I first read this in 2003. This book changed my outlook on the universe. It expanded my view of who I was, the story of our civilization and offered a hint of what's coming. I used its insight as a guide for technology and time investment and it totally paid off. Years later I look back, and I am still very fond of this book. Mu favorite to date.
It is an interesting read, for sure, but he takes to long to make his points and becomes bogged down in sentence structure.
Just say it, Ray!