The Age of Spiritual Machines ) may be technology's most credibly hyperbolic optimist. Elsewhere he has argued that eliminating fa"/>

The Singularity Is Near: When Humans Transcend Biology

Ray Kurzweil, Author . Viking $29.95 (652p) ISBN 978-0-670-03384-3

Renowned inventor Kurzweil (The Age of Spiritual Machines ) may be technology's most credibly hyperbolic optimist. Elsewhere he has argued that eliminating fat intake can prevent cancer; here, his quarry is the future of consciousness and intelligence. Humankind, it runs, is at the threshold of an epoch ("the singularity," a reference to the theoretical limitlessness of exponential expansion) that will see the merging of our biology with the staggering achievements of "GNR" (genetics, nanotechnology and robotics) to create a species of unrecognizably high intelligence, durability, comprehension, memory and so on. The word "unrecognizable" is not chosen lightly: wherever this is heading, it won't look like us. Kurzweil's argument is necessarily twofold: it's not enough to argue that there are virtually no constraints on our capacity; he must also convince readers that such developments are desirable. In essence, he conflates the wholesale transformation of the species with "immortality," for which read a repeal of human limit. In less capable hands, this phantasmagoria of speculative extrapolation, which incorporates a bewildering variety of charts, quotations, playful Socratic dialogues and sidebars, would be easier to dismiss. But Kurzweil is a true scientist—a large-minded one at that—and gives due space both to "the panoply of existential risks" as he sees them and the many presumed lines of attack others might bring to bear. What's arresting isn't the degree to which Kurzweil's heady and bracing vision fails to convince—given the scope of his projections, that's inevitable—but the degree to which it seems downright plausible. (Sept.)

Reviewed on: 07/25/2005
Release date: 09/01/2005
Show other formats
FORMATS
Compact Disc - 978-1-4526-0183-0
Compact Disc - 978-1-4526-3183-7
MP3 CD - 978-1-4526-5183-5
Pre-Recorded Audio Player - 978-1-61707-802-6
Paperback - 652 pages - 978-0-14-303788-0
Peanut Press/Palm Reader - 672 pages - 978-1-4295-1789-8
Open Ebook - 672 pages - 978-1-4295-1544-3
Open Ebook - 672 pages - 978-1-101-21888-4
Paperback - 652 pages - 978-0-7156-3561-2
X
Stay ahead with
Tip Sheet!
Free newsletter: the hottest new books, features and more
X
Only $18.95/month for Digital Access
or $20.95 for Print+Digital Access!
X
Only $18.95/month for Digital Access
or $20.95 for Print+Digital Access!
X
Email Address

Password

Log In Lost Password

PW has integrated its print and digital subscriptions, offering exciting new benefits to subscribers, who are now entitled to both the print edition and the digital editions of PW (online or via our app). For instructions on how to set up your accout for digital access, click here. For more information, click here.

The part of the site you are trying to access is now available to subscribers only. Subscribers: to set up your digital subscription with the new system (if you have not done so already), click here. To subscribe, click here.

Email pw@pubservice.com with questions.

Not Registered? Click here.