Ok Ray, we got it. You're a smart dude. Do you have to beat us over the head with your brilliance?
The initial essay about exponential growth sets the stage for Kurzweil's latest tome about the looming man-machine merger. Basically, Kurzweil shows that technological change is occurring not just at exponential rates but that the rate that the rate is changing is also exponential. It's pretty easy to look at one area of technology - computers, medicine, robotics, communication, etc. - and only perceive linear or mildly exponential growth. But Kurzweil points out that all technology crosses over. The exponential growth in computer technology influences the growth rate of medical technology. Improved medical technology influences communication. Imagine, for instance, the impact Steve Jobs had on the iPhone because of the medical technology the staved off his pancreatic cancer. Arguably, Jobs' best years were the last few before his death.
After this basic math lecture, Kurzweil then starts deconstructing everything from Wolfram's "New Kind of Science" to the blood-brain-barrier. He uses this deconstruction to minutely detail his predictions for when the Singularity will occur. This is the part of the book that gets a little tedious.
I haven't made it to the end of the book yet but it has shifted my thinking quite a bit about the Singularity. I used to take a fairly strong stance against AI, siding closely with Hubert Dreyfus. But even Dreyfus leaves open the possibility of modeling the physical brain as a path to AI. Kruzweil entirely bases his predictions on that modeling process and not on simulating human intelligence in software.
As for the recording... The volume level is consistent. The reader's voice does crack at times. I would appreciate a little more emotion in the reading but it's definitely not robotic.
I'm still only about half way through this audio book. I have been enjoying it immensely. It's a pretty serious subject but John Medina (the author and narrator) does a great job making it approachable. Sure, Medina is not a professional voice actor but you get to hear his genuine enthusiasm for the subject.
I was hoping for a little motivational geekiness but after the first few chapters, Hardwick has gotten fixated on exercise. I wish I had the book so I could just skip all the crap. The book also has worksheets and things to facilitate implementing his basic idea (which is compelling if you are a D&D geek).
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