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The Age of Spiritual Machines: When Computers Exceed Human Intelligence (1999)

av Ray Kurzweil

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1,632207,778 (3.69)5
The Age of Spiritual Machines is no mere list of predictions but a framework for envisioning the 21st century in which one advance or invention leads inexorably to another. After establishing that technology is growing exponentially, Kurzweil forecasts that computers will exceed the memory capacity and computing speed of the human brain by 2020, with the other attributes of human intelligence not far behind. By that time paraplegics will be able to walk by using a combination of nerve stimulation and robotic devices.… (mer)

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This one was a little flat for me, and not just because of the title. I can't fathom why he would equate "spiritual" and "intelligence" - of course, both are evolutionary products, but they are not synonymous in any way. Whenever humans build conscious machines, I really hope that those machines won't have the electronic equivalent of the human gene that makes them susceptible to superstition/belief. Still, the book was engaging enough until Kurzweil started talking about the "elegance of Buddhist notions of consciousness". After that, I just looked for the meat and not his forays into computer poetry.

I also was turned off by his dialogues at the end of each major section. I can only suppose he thought he was being cute or was trying to reach a different audience with that Socratic device, but it was just annoying to me. His predictions for 2009 were somewhat close, but are going to start failing big time come 2019 and beyond. His Law of Accelerating Returns might have some bearing on technological increases, but he's pipe-dreaming when it comes to socio-political matters.

And one last gripe...on quotes: When I see quotes in a book, I often like check on them to see if they are accurate, if there is anything interesting to go with the quote, or even if the quote is correctly attributed. Kurzweil peppers his books (all two of them I've read so far) with so many that pulling those threads would take too much time, and for the most part, they're fun. He blew it when he "quoted" Bill Gates...Gates never said "640,000 bytes of memory ought to be enough for anybody." Perhaps such a gaffe could be forgiven except that in one of his dialogues from the 2029 future prediction section, he said to his ... counterpoint? ... "at least there are fewer references to look up."

Should have looked up one more. ( )
  Razinha | May 23, 2017 |
The author Ray Kurzweil has a fairly interesting premise - what happens when machines are able to duplicate the complexities of the human brain? He spends a lot of time trying to convince his readers of that eventuality but it's also apparent that he has drunk his own kool-aid. And he spends hardly any time on the most interesting question of his book - what makes us human?

And since his book was written in 1999, already some of his predictions are off the mark.

I skimmed the last few chapters as interest waned..... ( )
  bhuesers | Mar 29, 2017 |
It had me thinking about this subject for a long while after reading the book. ( )
  tlockney | Sep 7, 2014 |
This was really unreadable. It's like techno-babble junk food. Never tries to back up its claims or present a logical argument. I found the question/answer format of some of the sections distracting and prone to digression. ( )
2 rösta wweisser | Jul 6, 2013 |
Since I get into contact with the Vinge's singularity concept I developed a very great attraction for the matter.
Ray Kurzweil explains it in a easy, not alarming and optimistic way.
After reading The Age of Spiritual Machines and his later book the Singularity is near I can not understand how somebody can live without knowing about this potential threat and at the same time potential solution to mankind problems.
  mporto | Jan 21, 2012 |
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The universe is made of stories, not of atoms -Muriel Rukeyser
Is the universe a great mechanism, a great computation, a great symmetry, a great accident, or a great thought? -John D. Barrow
What if these theories are really true and we were magically shrunk and put into someone's brain while he was thinking. We would see all the pumps, pistons, gears and levers working away,and we would be able to describe their workings completely, in mechanical terms,thereby describing the thought processes of the brain. But that description would nowhere contain any description of thought! It would contain nothing but descriptions of pumps, pistons, levers! -Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz
Artificial Stupidity (AS) may be defined as the attempt by computer scientists to create computer programs capable of causing problems of a type normally associated with human thought. -Wallace Marshal
Artificial intelligence (AI) is the science of how to get machines to do the things they do in the movies. -Astro Trller
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The Age of Spiritual Machines is no mere list of predictions but a framework for envisioning the 21st century in which one advance or invention leads inexorably to another. After establishing that technology is growing exponentially, Kurzweil forecasts that computers will exceed the memory capacity and computing speed of the human brain by 2020, with the other attributes of human intelligence not far behind. By that time paraplegics will be able to walk by using a combination of nerve stimulation and robotic devices.

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