The Age of Spiritual Machines: When Computers Exceed Human Intelligence
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Ray Kurzweil is the inventor of the most innovative and compelling technology of our era, an international authority on artificial intelligence, and one of our greatest living visionaries. Now he offers a framework for envisioning the twenty-first century--an age in which the marriage of human sensitivity and artificial intelligence fundamentally alters and improves the way we live. Kurzweil's prophetic blueprint for the future takes us through the advances that inexorably result in computers exceeding the memory capacity and computational ability of the human brain by the year 2020 (with human-level capabilities not far behind); in relationships with automated personalities who will be our teachers, companions, and lovers; and in information fed straight into our brains along direct neural pathways. Optimistic and challenging, thought-provoking and engaging, The Age of Spiritual Machines is the ultimate guide on our road into the next century.
preoccupied with these issues. In the Phaedo, The Republic, and Theaetetus, Plato expresses the profound paradox inherent in the concept of consciousness and a human's apparent ability to freely choose. On the one hand, human beings partake of the natural world and are subject to its laws. Our brains are natural phenomena and thus must follow the cause-and-effect laws manifest in machines and other lifeless creations of our species. Plato was familiar with the potential complexity of machines and
harness the regular molecular structure of crystals as actual computing elements. The Nanotube: A Variation of Buckyballs Three professors—Richard Smalley and Robert Curl of Rice University, and Harold Kroto of the University of Sussex—shared the 1996 Nobel Prize in Chemistry for their 1985 discovery of soccer-ball-shaped molecules formed of a large number of carbon atoms. Organized in hexagonal and pentagonal patterns like R. Buckminster Fuller's building designs, they were dubbed
music to the more flexible and capable world of transferable digital information. The leap to port our minds to a more capable computing medium will happen gradually but inexorably nonetheless. As we port ourselves, we will also vastly extend ourselves. Remember that $1,000 of computing in 2060 will have the computational capacity of a trillion human brains. So we might as well multiply memory a trillion fold, greatly extend recognition and reasoning abilities, and plug ourselves into the
Self-replicating machines built at the atomic level could truly transform the world we live in. They could build extremely inexpensive solar cells, allowing the replacement of messy fossil fuels. Since solar cells require a large surface area to collect sufficient sunlight, they could be placed in orbit, with the energy beamed down to Earth. Nanobots launched into our bloodstreams could supplement our natural immune system and seek out and destroy pathogens, cancer cells, arterial plaque, and
activated during religious experiences. They discovered this neural machinery while studying epileptic patients who have intense mystical experiences during seizures. Apparently the intense neural storms during a seizure stimulate the God module. Tracking surface electrical activity in the brain with highly sensitive skin monitors, the scientists found a similar response when very religious nonepileptic persons were shown words and symbols evoking their spiritual beliefs. A neurological basis for