The Singularity Is Near: When Humans Transcend Biology

The Singularity Is Near: When Humans Transcend Biology

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Overview

The Singularity Is Near: When Humans Transcend Biology by Ray Kurzweil, George K. Wilson

For over three decades, the great inventor and futurist 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. That merging is the essence of the Singularity, an era in which our intelligence will become increasingly nonbiological and trillions of times more powerful than it is today-the dawning of a new civilization that will enable us to transcend our biological limitations and amplify our creativity. In this new world, there will be no clear distinction between human and machine, real reality and virtual reality. While the social and philosophical ramifications of these changes will be profound, and the threats they pose considerable, The Singularity Is Near maintains a radically optimistic view of the future course of human development. As such, it offers a view of the coming age that is both a dramatic culmination of centuries of technological ingenuity and a genuinely inspiring vision of our ultimate destiny.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781452631837
Publisher: Tantor Media, Inc.
Publication date: 05/04/2011
Edition description: Library - Unabridged CD
Product dimensions: 7.00(w) x 6.90(h) x 1.80(d)

About the Author

Ray Kurzweil is one of the world's leading inventors and the author of books including The Age of Intelligent Machines and The Singularity Is Near.

George K. Wilson has narrated over one hundred fiction and nonfiction audiobook titles, from Thomas L. Friedman to Thomas Pynchon, and has won several AudioFile Earphones Awards.

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Singularity Is Near 3.9 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 59 reviews.
Beast_Ripper More than 1 year ago
I picked up this book with the expectation that I would read some far out metaphysical extrapolation on modern technology. I was wrong. Instead, what I found was a scholarly and informative explanation of the current technological frontiers, by someone operating on the front lines with the commanders of research and development. I was captured, in the very first chapter, with his analysis of the exponential increase in knowledge and technology, by looking at backward trends and projecting them forward. Being an engineer in the fast changing telecommunications field, myself, for the last 30 years, I have witnessed the incredible advancement in both computing power and technology. So much so, that I have felt myself, at times, as drowning in the flood of technology changes. Ray gives us an overall glimpse into the future, not only of technology, but of human civilization itself, projected into the next century. According to Ray, there is a point in time in the near future (the singularity), in which mankind's role in human civilization will forever be changed. What makes this book so good, is that it is filled with real examples of the cutting edge of science and technology, not someone's fantasies of the future. He draws examples of current research from a variety of disciplines, and makes predictions on future advancements, based on past progress, extrapolated at an exponential rate. The result is a shocking vision of the future, possibly more shocking than the kind predicted in older books, such as Alvin Toffler's "Future Shock." This book focuses more on the impact of technology on our future moreso than on sociological trends. A must read for anyone who likes to ponder the world to come and what terrors might come with it - fascinating, exciting, and terrifying all in one.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This is a strange and powerful tome. Inventor and futurist Ray Kurzweil makes predictions that are sweeping in their implications and bold in their specificity. In fact, some readers may think they sound more like science fiction than science. He discusses developing artificial intelligence, downloading consciousness, redesigning the body using nanotechnology and other seemingly improbable developments. Then, he goes out on a limb to predict how and when these technological advances will all intersect ¿ a historical moment called the 'singularity.' At that point, he says, if humans have used technology properly, they will become godlike, solving all their problems. Kurzweil devotes nearly 80 pages to articulating and responding to the criticisms of skeptics. However, even if you reject most of Kurzweil's ideas, you can still benefit from reading his book. It is thoroughly researched, with roughly 100 pages of notes and references, and conceptually challenging. Kurzweil works hard to make it lively and accessible, providing graphs, quotations, sidebars and imaginary debates among spokespersons for various points of view. The result can become overwhelming, but it is always thought-provoking. We recommend this book to executives who are seriously interested in planning for the future, and to curious minds everywhere.
Guest More than 1 year ago
It's a great book on the future of technology. Gives credit to VonNeumann for the term 'singularity' and will interest the expert as well as the casual reader. He references the scientists that are currently doing research in the related fields and the practical application of the technology. He unmasks Artificial Intelligence with finese.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Kurzweil's book validated my own fuzzily-imagined prediction to family and friends that, as it has been the case with other scientific revolutions and, in particular, the computer age of laptops, ipads, and the internet, the next Big Leap will be the use of computers on microchips, implanted directly into our brains, to enhance human cognitive functioning. No more need for an external device using keyboard, mouse, touchscreen, or even voice recognition; we will train our own brains to access internet information using a "brain prosthesis" much as we train a body without an arm to control a prosthetic arm today. The speed of thinking itself will be greater than our biologically-based brains can effect. This is not fantasy any longer. You simply need to read this book; whether you like all of its implications or not, it argues very convincingly for a time in the near future when a major change is going to occur that will affect, literally, what it means to be human. Personally, I found Kurzweil's optimism unsettling toward the early parts of the book, but upon discovering later sections in which he handles criticisms of his "visions of the future", I felt that he was coming back to earth a bit. He may sound a little arrogant, much as those who, in biblical times, might have sounded as they planned the Tower of Babel. But in a very thoroughgoing way, he extrapolates his future vision based on hard science and cutting-edge technology of today. And this brings me to my own concern, although it's probably not so much about Kurzweil as about Artificial Intelligence (and Turing gets a lot of mention here). I was influnced at an early age by the movie, "Colossus: The Forbin Project", in which a supercomputer achieves consciousness and goes about establishing itself as the benevolent, paternalistic dictator of the human race. Think you'd want that? The "Terminator" and "I, Robot" and "Matrix" movies--to name a very small selection--all share a similar cautionary premise. I recognize that no single person, or even any single government, appears capable of putting the developments Kurzweil predicts off for long, but golly, if anyone else reads this book, doesn't the sheer, enthusiastic optimism get to you after awhile? Kurzweil is an expert on nanotech, brain science, and AI, but his estimation of human nature strikes me as almost nightmarishly naive. Murphy's Law comes to mind. Along the way to the Singularity, I submit that if anything can go wrong, it will. I suppose all I can really do is sit back, wait, and see what happens.
Philipparis More than 1 year ago
One of the best books I have read in years . I have read it 3 times as it is so packed with astounding information, thoughts/future of the world we live in and will confront . Not to be missed for anyone curious on our future, technology, innovation, energy etc . Philip in Paris
Sion4000 More than 1 year ago
Presents a unique and logical possibility for the future. Definitely worth a read!
ZenoZ More than 1 year ago
This is a great book even if at the end you don't agree with his postulations. If you are a fan of science and technology you will probably like this book. Ray Kurzweil lays it all out for you complete with references and annotation. It's a fast read that is sure to captivate.
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