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86 of 93 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars It's good to read a book like this at least once a year, December 5, 1999
This review is from: The Age of Spiritual Machines: When Computers Exceed Human Intelligence (Hardcover)
This book got me excited. It changed the way I think about the future, and I recommend it to anyone who wants to understand the possibilities that the future holds.
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.
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Showing 1-2 of 2 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Feb 10, 2011 10:49:17 AM PST
S. Stolarz says:
He doesnt actually ignore government or social trends or influence......

Ignore is the wrong word, he simply thinks this cannot be stopped.

In reply to an earlier post on Oct 2, 2011 2:58:14 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on Oct 2, 2011 2:59:03 PM PDT
I would have to agree that Moore's Law isn't actually a scientific law. It ought to be called Moore's Trend. And even if it was a law I would have to agree with this reviewer that scientists who study expodential curves often forget to count the social/government factor into their equations.

After taking a break of the whole technological singularity thing for about 5 years I have found one flaw in the entire theory. Not in the idea of a singularity itself but this idea that A.I. will outclass humans. What this theory ignores is that A.I. is not the only way to increase intelligience. It makes more sense to amplify allready existing human intelligience (see "Intellgience Amplification") then to start of scratch and try to replicate the human brain and improve upon it. Singulitarians ignore how Mind-Machine Interfaces can compete (and outcompete) A.I. Now of course A.I. can always outclass humans if they are designed specifically to excel at one task (such as memorizing every possible future chess move), but it's not clear how A.I. will outclass human intelligience generally speaking.
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