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The Singularity Is Near
Cover of The Singularity Is Near
The Singularity Is Near
When Humans Transcend Biology
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"Startling in scope and bravado." —Janet Maslin, The New York Times
"Artfully envisions a breathtakingly better world." —Los Angeles Times
"Elaborate, smart and persuasive." —The Boston Globe
"A pleasure to read." —The Wall Street Journal
One of CBS News's Best Fall Books of 2005 Among St Louis Post-Dispatch's Best Nonfiction Books of 2005 One of Amazon.com's Best Science Books of 2005
A radical and optimistic view of the future course of human development from t
he bestselling author of How to Create a Mind and The Age of Spiritual Machines who Bill Gates calls "the best person I know at predicting the future of artificial intelligence"

For over three decades, Ray Kurzweil has been one of the most respected and provocative advocates of the role of technology in our future. In his classic The Age of Spiritual Machines, he argued that computers would soon rival the full range of human intelligence at its best. Now he examines the next step in this inexorable evolutionary process: the union of human and machine, in which the knowledge and skills embedded in our brains will be combined with the vastly greater capacity, speed, and knowledge-sharing ability of our creations.
From the Trade Paperback edition.
"Startling in scope and bravado." —Janet Maslin, The New York Times
"Artfully envisions a breathtakingly better world." —Los Angeles Times
"Elaborate, smart and persuasive." —The Boston Globe
"A pleasure to read." —The Wall Street Journal
One of CBS News's Best Fall Books of 2005 Among St Louis Post-Dispatch's Best Nonfiction Books of 2005 One of Amazon.com's Best Science Books of 2005
A radical and optimistic view of the future course of human development from t
he bestselling author of How to Create a Mind and The Age of Spiritual Machines who Bill Gates calls "the best person I know at predicting the future of artificial intelligence"

For over three decades, Ray Kurzweil has been one of the most respected and provocative advocates of the role of technology in our future. In his classic The Age of Spiritual Machines, he argued that computers would soon rival the full range of human intelligence at its best. Now he examines the next step in this inexorable evolutionary process: the union of human and machine, in which the knowledge and skills embedded in our brains will be combined with the vastly greater capacity, speed, and knowledge-sharing ability of our creations.
From the Trade Paperback edition.
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  • From the book

    RAY KURZWEIL

    The Singularity Is Near

    WHEN HUMANS TRANSCEND BIOLOGY

    PENGUIN BOOKS

    PROLOGUE

    The Power of Ideas

    I do not think there is any thrill that can go through the human heart like that felt by the inventor as he sees some creation of the brain unfolding to success.

    —NIKOLA TESLA, 1896, INVENTOR OF ALTERNATING CURRENT

    At the age of five, I had the idea that I would become an inventor. I had the notion that inventions could change the world. When other kids were wondering aloud what they wanted to be, I already had the conceit that I knew what I was going to be. The rocket ship to the moon that I was then building (almost a decade before President Kennedy's challenge to the nation) did not work out. But at around the time I turned eight, my inventions became a little more realistic, such as a robotic theater with mechanical linkages that could move scenery and characters in and out of view, and virtual baseball games.

    Having fled the Holocaust, my parents, both artists, wanted a more worldly, less provincial, religious upbringing for me.1 My spiritual education, as a result, took place in a Unitarian church. We would spend six months studying one religion—going to its services, reading its books, having dialogues with its leaders—and then move on to the next. The theme was "many paths to the truth." I noticed, of course, many parallels among the world's religious traditions, but even the inconsistencies were illuminating. It became clear to me that the basic truths were profound enough to transcend apparent contradictions.

    At the age of eight, I discovered the Tom Swift Jr. series of books. The plots of all of the thirty-three books (only nine of which had been published when I started to read them in 1956) were always the same: Tom would get himself into a terrible predicament, in which his fate and that of his friends, and often the rest of the human race, hung in the balance. Tom would retreat to his basement lab and think about how to solve the problem. This, then, was the dramatic tension in each book in the series: what ingenious idea would Tom and his friends come up with to save the day?2 The moral of these tales was simple: the right idea had the power to overcome a seemingly overwhelming challenge.

    To this day, I remain convinced of this basic philosophy: no matter what quandaries we face—business problems, health issues, relationship difficulties, as well as the great scientific, social, and cultural challenges of our time—there is an idea that can enable us to prevail. Furthermore, we can find that idea. And when we find it, we need to implement it. My life has been shaped by this imperative. The power of an idea—this is itself an idea.

    Around the same time that I was reading the Tom Swift Jr. series, I recall my grandfather, who had also fled Europe with my mother, coming back from his first return visit to Europe with two key memories. One was the gracious treatment he received from the Austrians and Germans, the same people who had forced him to flee in 1938. The other was a rare opportunity he had been given to touch with his own hands some original manuscripts of Leonardo da Vinci. Both recollections influenced me, but the latter is one I've returned to many times. He described the experience with reverence, as if he had touched the work of God himself. This, then, was the religion that I was raised with: veneration for human creativity and the power of ideas.

    In 1960, at the age of twelve, I discovered the computer and became fascinated with its ability to model and re-create the world. I hung around the...

Reviews-
  • Publisher's Weekly

    April 25, 1988
    With this revised version of a 1975 novella, acclaimed novelist Banks (Continental Drift) lampoons the American family in a wonderfully funny range of literary styles. Family Life opens in the macho mode of the tall tale cum horse opera, replete with a patrilineal catalogue of brawling heroes who indulge in their boys-will-be-boys exploits. With marriage, a man gains the rank of royalty. King Egress the Hearty, embarrassed now about past escapades with his hippie buddy Loon, lives in an American hometown with his "right-on queen.'' But she cavorts with the wine steward. The princes Orgone, Dread and Egress Jr. get into teenage scrapes, hunting girls and cougar, taking hash and coke, drinking and dying. When the Queen, aka Naomi Ruth, writes her own novel, rendered here in a chapter titled ``Remember Me to Camelot,'' she rephrases events in a tone of sentimental confessional relish. She tells about her cheerleader's crush on football captain Rex, their marriage, mobile home and three boys. But once Rex goes off to Vietnam, Naomi quickly gets liberated. How Rex and Naomi fare afterward emerges as a series of blase encounters in increasingly glitzy places. Exuberant and irreverent, Family Life bares a knife-edge of social satire.

  • Library Journal

    November 15, 2004
    Former LJ columnist Kurzweil (also winner of a National Medal of Technology) on what he calls the singularity: the point when we merge with machines, moving from reality to virtual reality and solving issues like aging, pollution, and world hunger. Whew! With a five-city author tour.

    Copyright 2004 Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

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The Singularity Is Near
The Singularity Is Near
When Humans Transcend Biology
Ray Kurzweil
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