In his provocative new book The Age of Spiritual Machines, Ray Kurzweil, who Forbes Magazine calls "the ultimate thinking machine," takes readers on an breathtaking tour of the history of computation and artificial intelligence and makes startling ...
akes startling predictions for the future of technology, such as: * 2010: A translating telephone will allow you to speak in any language and be heard in the listener's native tongue, in real time, in your own voice. * 2020: a $1000 computer will match the processing speed of the human brain -- about 20 billion calculations per second. * 2030: Most humans will have neural implants to improve their vision, hearing, memory, and thinking skills. It will become increasingly difficult for people without implants to function in human society.
The Age of Spiritual Machines is a prophetic blueprint for the future. Kurzweil begins by asking a critical question for understanding the twenty-first century: Can humans create another intelligence more intelligent than ourselves?
Kurzweil answers this question by probing into the intelligent process that created us: evolution. According to him "evolution's grandest creation -- human intelligence -- is providing the means for the next stage of evolution, which is technology." Because his Law of Accelerating Returns holds that technology is exponentially speeding up, Kurzweil predicts that early in this next century, machines will attain human level intelligence through reverse engineering of the brain. Once this critical threshold is achieved, computers will necessarily soar past human limitations.
By 2020, we will begin to have relationships with automated personalities and use them as teachers, companions, and lovers. By 2030, the distinction between us and computers will have been so sufficiently blurred that when machines claim to be conscious, we will have no choice but to believe them. Human identity will be called into question as never before, as a billion years of evolution are superseded in a mere hundred by machine technology that we have created. We will become cyborgs, but what will computers become?