Faced with mindless duty, when an audio book player slips into a rear pocket and mini buds pop into ears, old is made new again.
The Singularity is Near bodes the impertinence of Svengali or the prescience of Leonardo da Vinci. Ask a sixty-six year old if he/she would like to be thirty-five again. Ray Kurzweil predicts it will be possible by 2048. However, there is a Faustian bargain to be struck if Kurzweil’s prediction comes true.
Ray Kurzweil’s prediction is based on three beliefs; i.e. one, continued geometric improvement in computer processing power; two, expanded use of nanotechnology with infinite improvement in artificial intelligence; and three, melding of human biology and A. I.’ technology.
The Singularity is Near is well written and a fascinating vision with an optimistic view of the future. Faust declares at the end of Act V: “He who strives on and lives to strive/ Can earn redemption still”. That is the best one can say about Kurzweil’s predictions.
Audio was very long (24hr) , he seemed overly optimistic about his predictions and there were parts where this dragged on.
That said I gave this a 5 because of the many new ideas he exposed me to.
Ideas that change the way I will look at life.
I also liked the way he backed up his ideas.
I was nervous of the narration due to the reviews, but found it was not an issue for me.
I am a young-executive with a voracious appetite for great stories. I read and listen constantly, and am very proud of my book collection.
Could have been more effective in a 5 hour book. Way too repetitive.
Sorry, as I have giving a negative review but this was not good.
I am a "Life is Awesome! Strive to be Worthy of it." student of life kind of guy. Feeding on Chaos and Empowering the Good. Group Hug!
I have been a subscriber of Popular Science for over 10 years, and listening to this book continued to remind me of articles I had read, the difference being Pop Sci has Pictures and a lot of reference material. I felt like a lot of the material was repeated over again. There was enough material and a few really well done examples and breakdowns of some complicated area's that I enjoyed and may even listen to it again just to find those parts. I don't feel bad about purchasing it, however I was expecting a little more information about singularity, to me it was more about the history of events leading up to the ideas of singularity and a few hypothesizes on the future with possible dates. There is just something missing.
This book comes in three parts, the middle part had more of what I was looking for. The end of the book. It kept my interest.
For this type of book, I think George did great. He has the same way of speaking that you would find a lot of professors do in University. His voice doesn't put me to sleep and it was not annoying like a few other books I have purchased from Audible.
I enjoyed the formulas on how SETI depicts the possibility of ample life in the galaxy and universe.
I paid over 20 bucks for this book, I am not sure that it was worth that. Half that price would have made me feel a little better about the deal. :)
Entrepreneur using Audible to fill the endless hours spent traversing this wonderful land until Google finishes their car!
This is the second worst book I've ever finished cover to cover, with the saving grace being interesting nuggets of thought on a frequent enough basis to cause me to trudge through. I feel the format for the topic is the error, with the only truly appropriate format for this book to be over heavy drinking late into the night. Given that thought, to provide the ideas contained herein I would suggest a lecture format like the Great Courses. The concept of this book is highly conflicted, one step towards being a text book with tons of exponents to give it the patina of science, and five steps toward being a novel about Mr. Kurzweil's ego leaving the narration with the unfortunate task of projecting the Kurzweil personality while masquerading as scientifically authoritative. If the topic had been more narrowly defined, and stayed more in the author's domain of competency, it would of been a much more readable book. As was, while worth reading for a starting place of thought, I get the feeling that this is a religious book, and not scientific in any way, as any objection to the conjectures contained therein would be responded to as "You don't understand the singularity."
Retired Political Science professor from a community college. Especially like Legal Thrillers.
I have found the theories to be brilliant although I did not fully understand all of the support material. Well worth the effort for someone who wants to think "outside the box".
The narration is slow and has a very choppy flow. I had to put the narration speed at 1.5-2X to make it bearable. Kurzweil does have some great insight but then repeats many of the same points over and over. The book could be abridged by a third and the reader wouldn't miss out.
Throughout the book, Kurzweil has "conversations" between Molly 2004 and Molly 2048 to rehash ideas, I started skipping these sections around chapter 3 and it helped with the pacing of the book.
Wilson has a very slow and choppy reading of the book. Most of the time you feel as if a mediocre William Shatner impersonator is doing the narration.
I think the book could use a revision to bring many of the future examples in the book up to date. Also a change to scale of referenced bits to MB or GB would make the many of the storage numbers much easier for readers to digest.
If a revision is made, there could be a companion piece where Kurzweil puts in the original future concept, forecast-ed date, and then actual date of invention.
change the narrator?
NOOO. Please. No. No. It's so annoying.
Can I get a refund? Or the same book but narrated by someone else.
I'm not going to start worshipping the singularity anytime soon but the information in this book is well worth the read.
I will not be buying any more books by this Author. Ray Kurzweil's "Singularitarianism" is an obsession that seems to have driven him past the point of reason. Repeated use of the words "Inevitable" and "exponential", when he's describing the highly speculative and purely imaginary, leave the listener in a stupor of disbelief: that someone this intelligent could be so convinced of an idea and concept that is patently full of Daydreaming and Wishful Thinking, is simply mind-boggling.
Kurzweil seriously believes our knowledge and technology obey a (fictitious) law of 'accelerating returns' and are approaching the point of Exponential increase. In this he is denying the obvious point that REAL things cannot and do not behave exponentially - whatever curve-fitting analyses one conducts (although if you torture your data long enough it will say anything to make you stop).
ALL real things have speed and replication limits. Things with inertia (including thought, knowledge and ideas, all of which have a kind of inertia) CANNOT increase exponentially.
I also did not enjoy George Wilson's narration because his dry-sounding voice and occasional pronunciation quirks make anything but a short piece a little difficult to listen to. One has the tendency to stop listening to the information in order to repeat and make fun with a weird pronunciation or two every now and then: such as the many many times you hear him say "assem-bully" instead of assembly - just one example. However because of him I now can do a pretty good impression of Walter Cronkite, a voice to which his is quite similar.
The Singularity Is Near has not turned me away from other books in the genre. Any good, intelligently written but OBJECTIVE book on the topics of technology and future prognostication will still be sought after by me. I will simply be more careful to avoid glassy-eyed, immature, wishful thinkers.
George Wilson's narration: I did not enjoy this LONG narration by George Wilson, but something short would not be out of the question.
On the up side, The Singularity Is Near does contain an abundance of news concerning technology and research, and is informative as such. It simply fails in the child-like enthusiasm of the Author for his own unrealistic opinions.
The single most offensive idea Kurzweil relates (aside from the total obliviousness to the immorality of some of the animal-based research he gushes about) is that Artificially Intelligent beings that will eventually arise, according to his thinking, will "of course" not be a threat to humanity because they will "revere us as their honored forebears".
The phrase "vacuously obtuse denialism" comes to mind: Kurzweil has, and offers, no proof or logical argument for this statement. He does say we will simply program AIs to be this way, without a single hint of HOW this can be done, and within a few paragraphs he also says AIs will reprogram themselves at will in order to self-improve. (What, then, is to prevent them from over-riding or deleting "reverence for old biology" from their makeup?? The question is never brought to light).
Even though I do not believe an indpendent, self aware AI will NECESSARILY be a threat, I do not see any reason to believe they will "revere us" either. To adopt childlike innocence based on hopeful/wishful thinking is simply offensive in a grownup, and stupefyingly, gob-smackingly hideous when one sees it in an intelligent man like Kurzweil.