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28 of 32 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An Absolute Gem of a Book, November 5, 2006
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This review is from: The Singularity Is Near: When Humans Transcend Biology (Paperback)
Ray Kurzweil is a national treasure, a man who thinks at the level of Einstein but only 50 years later. There are a number of people like Kurzweil walking around on the planet. You have to search for them. When you find them, try to learn everything you can from them. They will help you move exponentially to the next level. He is a solitary thinker, operating on the outer limits of human knowledge, and then some.

I have read his other books, and in many ways, this book is the sequel to "The Age of Spiritual Machines". What Kurzweil is writing about in this book is his belief that we are moving towards s UNION if you will, of human intelligence and machines or objects that will have equal and eventually superior intelligence. Is this the goal of the people who spend their lives working in Artificial Intelligence, probably?

The difference is that Kurzweil knows so much more than his fellow thinkers, and more importantly for us, he has the capacity to convey it to those of us who are not full-time players in his arena. This quality of information conveyance is a vastly underappreciated skill. In my work investing billions of dollars in stock investments, I have access to just about anybody I want, because I have the capacity to write a check. You have no idea how many actual geniuses I deal with who CAN'T speak, let alone write the English language.

Kurzweil is different. He can get these concepts across to us in an interesting language spiced with stories that we can all understand. He does not visibly suffer from the ego needs of most geniuses. He is comfortable in his own skin, and that feeling is conveyed to us also.

Due to his position in the exalted world of the super Mensa types, Kurzweil can also access the top minds of who's doing what in the world today. Men who run Fortune 100 companies are more than willing to share the knowledge of their research departments with this famous thinker.

At the upper levels of the Central Intelligence Agency, the National Security Agency, and the Defense Department are some of the smartest people on the planet working on Artificial Intelligence, and edge-of-knowledge sophisticated computer applications. Kurzweil is in a position to interact with all of them, and this accounts for why much of what he writes about appears nowhere else.

He also brings something else to the table. He is a very successful inventor and entrepreneur who is now independently wealthy. He knows what works in what environment, and what doesn't. He knows when something is being brought to market too early, or way too late. In the book he states, "I realized that most inventions fail not because the R&D department can't get them to work, but because the timing is wrong. Inventing is a lot like surfing: you have to anticipate and catch the wave at just the right moment." I am an investor; I have never heard it said better.

His concept of his "intuitive linear view of history" is absolutely fascinating, and compelling. He believes that the rate of change is accelerating. For years we have all heard the concept that the only constant is change. Kurzweil believes the calculus is changing. We have already entered a world where we are witnessing a dramatic change in the rate of acceleration of change.

Just ten or so years ago, cell phones had minimal impact. The Internet was nowhere near the adaptive state it is in today, and universal information flow did not exist. There were no bloggers, traditional media dominated, and people were more easily lied to by politicians with impunity. Things are changing aren't they?

Here's the bottom line on Kurzweil. Most of the time you read a book to take one major thought out of the document. Sometimes it's a single page; sometimes it's a single line. Occasionally, you find that rare book where there is something on every page that is outstanding, motivating, even framework changing. This is such a book, and therein lays its importance.

There's one more reason to read a book like this. Do you remember when Ross Perot ran for President? One of the metaphors he used to refer to was a story of the carpenter he knew. The words were "Measure twice, cut once." This is an example of what I call the need to be mentored. There are people that can teach you things that if you spent 20 years studying the topic, you would never learn. The carpenters' of "Measure twice, cut once," is an example of that.

When you read Kurzweil, you are eliminating the need to read hundreds to thousands of other books. There is knowledge on every page for you to absorb and ponder. Buy this book, and have an orgasm of the mind.

Richard Stoyeck
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Showing 1-2 of 2 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Feb 12, 2007 8:49:17 AM PST
StarGazer says:
Note that he's posting from Westport, CT. He's aging, rich, and hopes to God that Kurzweil can help him live forever to further rape the planet into submission.

In reply to an earlier post on Mar 11, 2007 7:00:11 PM PDT
Hoping, praying, and writing venture capital checks in support of my views.

Regards,
Richard
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