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The Age of Spiritual Machines: When Computers Exceed Human Intelligence | [Ray Kurzweil]

The Age of Spiritual Machines: When Computers Exceed Human Intelligence

In this audiobook, the brain behind the Kurzweil Reading Machine, the Kurzweil synthesizer, advanced speech recognition, and other technologies devises a framework for envisioning the next century. Kurzweil guides us through the inexorable advances that will result in computers exceeding the memory capacity and computational ability of the human brain.
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Publisher's Summary

Imagine a world where the difference between man and machines blurs, where the line between humanity and technology fades, and where the soul and the silicon chip unite. This is not science fiction. This is the 21st century according to Ray Kurzweil, inventor of the most innovative and compelling technology of our era. In this audiobook, the brain behind the Kurzweil Reading Machine, the Kurzweil synthesizer, advanced speech recognition, and other technologies devises a framework for envisioning the next century. Kurzweil guides us through the inexorable advances that will result in computers exceeding the memory capacity and computational ability of the human brain. The Age of Spiritual Machines is no mere list of predictions, but a prophetic blueprint for the future.

©Ray Kurzweil, 1998; ©1998 Penguin Audiobooks

What the Critics Say

"A sage, compelling vision of the future from one of our nation's leading innovators." (Mike Brown, Chairman of the Nasdaq Stock Market, Former CFO of Microsoft)

What Members Say

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  •  
    Ryan Somerville, MA, United States 03-07-12
    Ryan Somerville, MA, United States 03-07-12 Member Since 2005

    Gen-Xer, software engineer, and lifelong avid reader. Soft spots for sci-fi, fantasy, and history, but I'll read anything good.

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    "An optimistic map to technological transcendence"

    In this short, readable book, Kurzweil pitches the idea of the Singularity to mainstream readers. As a software developer with a strong interest in artificial intelligence, evolution, and neuroscience, I think that his claims and their stunning implications are right. At least, in a broad sense. We are not far from a world in which machines will begin to exhibit intelligence approaching -- and, in some areas, surpassing -- the minds of human beings. Though, at first, such systems will require much direct guidance and management from us, they will become ever more autonomous. They will thrive as members of vast, interconnected, evolving software ecosystem, supported by an immense, powerful, and exponentially growing base of computing hardware.

    With the rise artificial intelligence, new physical technology will become possible, enabling machines to begin to become part of us. In a few decades (maybe a century), our brains and bodies will probably have the ability to interface directly with computer systems and nanobots that augment them; in a few decades more, our physical human bodies might no longer be necessary, and we will be able to exist solely as software entities, life forms in a reality that can’t be imagined right now.

    It’s mind-blowing, paradigm-imploding stuff, but I’ve thought about the same ideas at great length, and I think that Kurzweil’s reasoning is quite clear and sound. Given what we know about the workings of “intelligence” as represented by the human brain, there’s no obvious reason that science won’t be able to map out its essential processes or computer hardware and software to realize something equivalent to them.

    If you need proof of the man’s credibility, note that this book was written in 1999, then check out chapter 3, where he makes predictions of how technology will look in 2009 and years beyond. Granted, many of his forecasts are a little too optimistic -- for example, a suit that provides an enjoyable simulation of sex isn’t going to happen by 2020 -- but his mind was definitely headed in the right direction. The coolest bits of "2009" future-gazing describe technologies that, if not here already (iPhone, anyone?), are getting close. Both in terms of physical realization and rapid public embrace.

    However, I would criticize Kurzweil for being so breathless in his excitement, he doesn’t give much attention to the dark side of what he foresees. Certain areas of technology may follow an exponential growth track, but human understanding and social systems are another story. What will happen to the people who are left out of the leap forward, or don’t understand it, or are afraid of it? The ones who have no saleable skills in a world of robots? (Note that one of the few predictions for 2009 that Kurzweil gets drastically wrong is his rosy forecast for the global economy.)

    Still, this is a very important book for the mainstream and I can tell you that technology and the concepts around it are developing just as Kurzweil said. The decades to come will be some of the most interesting in human history, and quite possibly the next step beyond human history.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Jack Winter Springs, FL, United States 01-03-12
    Jack Winter Springs, FL, United States 01-03-12 Member Since 2010
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    "Interesting Theories"
    Would you listen to The Age of Spiritual Machines again? Why?

    This is one book worth multiple listens due to the theories laid out by Ray Kurzweil. There are many barriers to achieving the path he foresees for the human race and the path may meander. However, I can see the potential and each of the steps provide a set of ethics to chew over.


    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Matthew San Diego, CA, United States 01-12-11
    Matthew San Diego, CA, United States 01-12-11 Member Since 2010
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    "Fascinating"

    Fascinating book to listen to, despite the fact that it was written 10 years. It was very interesting hearing Kurzweil's predictions for 2009 and comparing them to what has actually happened. Some of his predictions are spot on, while others are way off base. The book is a thought-provoking speculation on how the development of technology and artificial intelligence might shape our future.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Jeff Nahant, MA, United States 05-02-14
    Jeff Nahant, MA, United States 05-02-14 Member Since 2010
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    "I liked it but I liked "How to Create a Mind" more"
    If you’ve listened to books by Ray Kurzweil before, how does this one compare?

    I liked it but I liked "How to Create a Mind" more


    If this book were a movie would you go see it?

    no


    Any additional comments?

    I liked it but I liked "How to Create a Mind" more.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Marty FORT COLLINS, CO, United States 08-03-12
    Marty FORT COLLINS, CO, United States 08-03-12 Member Since 2013
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    "Intriguing book!"
    Would you listen to The Age of Spiritual Machines again? Why?

    No. It's a great book but I understood Ray's ideas & theories so now that I know them I don't feel the need to listen again.


    What other book might you compare The Age of Spiritual Machines to and why?

    Anything dealing with the future, and specifically the future of technology.


    Which scene was your favorite?

    The last few chapters dedicated to his predictions of how society will change in the near & distant future based on technology.


    Any additional comments?

    There was a great late 90's Canadian band called Our Lady Peace that based their entire album "Spiritual Machines" off of this book; sort of cool to hear and good album too!

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Joseph APO, AE, United States 07-17-12
    Joseph APO, AE, United States 07-17-12 Member Since 2006

    I'm travel alot and auido books are my moble home. I seem to be hooked on them and there is rarely a time that there not on for me.

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    "This one is worth a look..."

    Ok this is not a new book. However this book is still about both this time period and the near future. I was drawn to this book becuse of a friend showing me first telling me that the predictions made in this book (roughly 240 or so) that were made about this day and age are thus far about 80% correct or roughly correct
    He draws how how he formulated the pridictions and what they mean for our day and age. Its partly technical but its important and is still mostly understandable by a lay person (like me).
    Only small note is the person reading it grates on my nerves but you get used to him and the data is intresting enough that I tend to forget about it.
    (Update) the author has created a free PDF avabile on his website (just google the author) showing what pridictions were right, and why they were right or wrong. I recommand looking it up it make predictions made in this book mean alot more.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Richard St. Paul, MN, United States 06-26-12
    Richard St. Paul, MN, United States 06-26-12 Member Since 2011
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    "A good read, could have been more technical"

    I enjoyed hearing his ideas, it was amusing hearing his predictions now that we have reached them. No, we still don't have flying cars, but quite a lot of other things were spot-on.
    I had hoped it would have been a little more technical, discussing algorithms and neural networks etc, but it was a good listen none the less.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
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    William Bridgeville, PA, United States 05-30-12
    William Bridgeville, PA, United States 05-30-12 Member Since 2010
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    "Not a prophet, just a guy that is paying attention"

    Ray Kurweil's ideas of the future have been very productive in helping individuals know what target to aim towards, when it comes to future planning. One must understand the concepts in this book to handle the business paradigm changes we will face as access to information is coming faster than we can organize it.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Elaine Sumas, WA, United States 04-10-12
    Elaine Sumas, WA, United States 04-10-12

    I'm 66. I've read Audiobooks now for 6 years. After an assault, I had minor brain damage and couldn't read. Audible got me back to books

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    "An unexpected read."

    The Age of Spiritual Machines is on the cutting edge of science in the Artificial Intelligence research field. An exciting look into the work that is leading us into the future. Written for all to understand. What will it be like to talk with an AI being?

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Casey Rosemount, MN, United States 03-16-12
    Casey Rosemount, MN, United States 03-16-12 Member Since 2011
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    "Short, but interesting."

    The book is rather short. You may finish in one sitting because it sort of pulls you in. I wish it was more informative about the authors theories about keeping our consciousness while transferring to a more efficient vessel. All in all, a good listen!

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
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