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The Age of Spiritual Machines: When Computers Exceed Human Intelligence Paperback – January 1, 2000
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The Age of Spiritual Machines is compelling and accessible, and not necessarily best read from front to back--it's less heavily historical if you jump around (Kurzweil encourages this). Much of the content of the book lays the groundwork to justify Kurzweil's timeline, providing an engaging primer on the philosophical and technological ideas behind the study of consciousness. Instead of being a gee-whiz futurist manifesto, Spiritual Machines reads like a history of the future, without too much science fiction dystopianism. Instead, Kurzweil shows us the logical outgrowths of current trends, with all their attendant possibilities. This is the book we'll turn to when our computers first say "hello." --Therese Littleton
From Publishers Weekly
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Kurzweil presents his theories a lot more convincingly than I can, but I've certainly tried a lot since I read this book. It stimulates philosophical debate on the nature of life and intelligence, but grounds its philosophical wanderings in believable theory.
The book is not without its problems. The jump into the future of nanotechnology leaves is abrupt and the Law of Accelerating returns is not a law but a trend. He ignores the possibility of social movements or government action to prevent Artificial Intelligence research once it reaches a certain level. When he speaks about specific aspects of humanity or sex, he reveals an incomplete understanding of the way people feel and love.
But these flaws only serve to remind the reader that the book is indeed speculation, not fact. And the speculation is beautiful, absolutely inspiring. It introduced possibilities and ideas that I'm still turning over in my mind, and it did it all with clear, entertaining writing that a non-scientist like me can understand.
Pick up this book, read it, make your friends read it, and enjoy the time you spend discussing it. The resulting conversations will be so much more interesting than your usual social fare.
In fact, read a book like this every year, whether it's something totally off the wall (Robert Anton Wilson's "Prometheus Rising") or a little more grounded in current science (Kevin Kelly's "Out of Control"). It will broaden your "reality-tunnel" and get your mind working with big, fun concepts.
Kurzweil starts by describing the exponential growth of computer power, Moore's Law, and transistor-based computing. The present and the future are described until quantum effects start becoming a problem and a completely new kind of technology becomes necessary (some alternatives are mentioned, Quantum computation is of course, mentioned). The book proceeds to more metaphysical subjects, and questions if we can create another intelligence form more intelligent than ourselves. Can the created exceed the creator?
It will then proceed to cover consciousness and feelings; Kurzweil gets philosophical in what in my opinion is one of the book's weakest chapters The methods available to solve a wide range of intelligent problems (when combined with heavy doses of computation) will follow, in a chapter that covers subjects from recursive formulas to neural nets, and of course, enough space is dedicated to Alan Turing, the father of all modern computers.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
The Age of Spiritual Machines, first published in 1999, remains a robust projection into the future of this century. Read morePublished 3 months ago by David S. Wellhauser
This was a book that gave me a new outlook as to what the future could be like. Kurzweil is intelligent and writes well. Read morePublished 4 months ago by Tyler Re Richlie
I started with his most recent book; " How To Create A Mind ". After reading one chapter, I realized that I needed to back-up and read some of his previous works. Read morePublished 5 months ago by Timothy A Shaw, Sr.
My cell phone is smart, my car is smart, my toaster is smart, my lawn mower is smart, it's happening exactly as Ray predicted. I look forward to conversations with my TV.Published 6 months ago by V. Hadaway
Amazing book. The most influential book for me that I've ever read.Published 7 months ago by Amazon Customer
Didn't like how it drifted eventually into superstition and near madness.Published 8 months ago by true