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The Singularity Is Near: When Humans…
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The Singularity Is Near: When Humans Transcend Biology (2005)

by Ray Kurzweil

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Showing 1-5 of 27 (next | show all)
This was a fairly heavy book to read and frankly I hope none of it comes true. 😕 ( )
  Arkrayder | May 5, 2019 |
This is a comprehensive account of the state of the art of three interconnected technologies: genetics, nanotechnology, and artificial intelligence. A major premise is that progress in these fields is proceeding at an exponential pace. I’ll accept that, but unfortunately I got around to reading this large volume almost fifteen years too late! Some of Kurzweil’s predictions have already come true, many seem just as far off as they must have when the book was written. But that is the nature of writing about the future; reading these kinds of books is best done in the present.
My biggest objection to the work, however, is Kurzweil’s use of the word “intelligence” without clearly stating what he means by it. He does not usually include “artificial” along with it, so he intentionally leads the reader to assume that his massively more powerful computers are intelligent in the same sense as humans. Not until a much later chapter does he discuss “consciousness.” This concept he brushes away as being impossible to detect in anyone or anything other than oneself.
He mentions that he is like “the pattern that water makes in a stream as it rushes past the rocks in its path. The actual molecules of water change every millisecond, but the pattern persists for hours or even years.” I like that. Very poetical. But I’d like more specifics. Where is this pattern. It affects physical reality. It is caused by physical objects, and physical laws. But the pattern itself isn’t really physical. It is metaphysical. Maybe with the help of Kurzweil’s intelligent machines, we’ll eventually figure it all out some day. ( )
  drardavis | Jan 14, 2019 |
Yah... this book is blowing my mind. I can only read it in short bursts before I have to set it down and let my brain rest for a bit. ( )
  MsMaison | Dec 5, 2017 |
Overall an interesting read. Main criticisms:

The chapters that reference current research are already pretty dated (understandably). It is interesting to do some analysis on the status of the projects / research the author references. The success rate does not seem to be very high though; a lot of these projects either failed or are in stasis.

The author keeps on repeating himself to the point that it becomes tiresome. How often does the reader need to plough through paragraphs describing nanobots entering our bloodstream and improving our health. Signal to noise ratio is pretty low. ( )
  Boekuuh | Nov 21, 2017 |
Excellent charts (both log and linear) showing exponential growth and change. Accelerating pace of change is vividly depicted. Dense book with deep notes and references. ( )
  deldevries | Jan 31, 2016 |
Showing 1-5 of 27 (next | show all)
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Epigraph
I do not think there is any thrill that can go through the human heart like that felt by the inventory as he sees some creation of the brain unfolding to success.
- Nikola Tesla, 1896, inventor of alternating current
Dedication
To my mother, Hannah,
who provided me with the courage to seek the ideas
to confront any challenge
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At the age of five, I had the idea that I would become an inventor.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Kurzweil il guru dell' hi-tech spiega come cambierà la civiltà — A Non è una impresa facile leggere per intero le 651 pagine del libro di Ray Kurzweil intitolato "La singolarità è vicina". La tesi di fondo è che l' umanità è alla vigilia di una trasformazione senza precedenti. I progressi della tecnologia si succedono in modo esponenziale, facendo cambiare rotta alla storia; nel 2027 l' intelligenza dei computer supererà quella dell' uomo; la fusione tra uomini e macchine creerà una intelligenza non-biologica miliardi di volte più potente di quelle di oggi, avviando una nuova civiltà. Ma sono ragionamenti complessi, questi suoi, che intrecciano il pensiero del filosofo Arthur Schopenauer, con le avventure fantascientifiche di Arthur Clarke e gli scritti scientifici di premi Nobel della fisica, della medicina e dell' economia. Eppure chiunque incontri Kurzweil, o lo ascolti nelle conferenze (per le quali si fa pagare 25mila dollari), o legga qualche pagina dei suoi libri, capisce subito che è destinato a lasciare un segno. "Se avrà ragione - ha scritto Fortune in un ampio servizio che gli ha appena dedicato - il futuro dell' umanità sarà più strano (e più brillante) di quanto potreste pensare". Secondo il Wall Street Journal è "un genio irrequieto", mentre Forbes lo definisce come il "giusto erede di Thomas Edison". "Ray è sicuramente il migliore di tutti nel disegnare il futuro dell' intelligenza artificiale", dice il presidente della Microsoft Bill Gates, che lo ha invitato due volte a cena e che, proprio la settimana scorsa, in un eccezionale faccia a faccia con Steve Jobs della Apple, ha dichiarato che "viviamo in un periodo eccezionale per le invenzioni che cambiano la storia". Kurzweil è prima di tutto un inventore. Nato nel 1948 a Queens, una delle 5 circoscrizioni di New York, da genitori ebrei scappati da Vienna prima della guerra, "scoprì" i computer a 12 anni e a 17 vinse un premio internazionale per una macchina capace di elaborare gli spartiti di Beethoven e Chopin. Iscrittosi al Mit (ora ha anche 13 lauree honoris causa), creò una società che aiutava gli studenti a scegliere il corso di studi: la vendette poco dopo per 100mila dollari. E non è stato certo l' unico affare d' oro. Da un lato le sue invenzioni non sono passate inosservate: si devono a lui il primo sistema per il riconoscimento ottico dei caratteri, la prima macchina per aiutare i non-vedenti a tradurre la scrittura in parole, il primo scannerizzatore piatto, il primo strumento musicale che riproduce il suono di un pianoforte a coda (richiesto da Stenie Wonder). Da un altro lato ha sempre lanciato e rivenduto società hi tech: nel 1980, ad esempio, incassò 6,25 milioni di dollari cedendo alla Xerox la Kurzweil Computer Products e dieci anni dopo guadagnò 12 milioni trasferendo le attività nel settore musicale alla coreana Young Chang. Kurzweil è anche un sostenitore dell' uso della tecnologia per raggiungere l' immortalità. Si rende conto, naturalmente, che i tempi non sono maturi. Ma la vera sfida è dimostrare che la scienza sta per cambiare le coordinate dell' economia, e quindi della storia dell' uomo.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0143037889, Paperback)

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.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:03:55 -0400)

(see all 3 descriptions)

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.--Publisher description.… (more)

» see all 4 descriptions

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