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The Age of Spiritual Machines

3.89 of 5 stars 3.89  ·  rating details  ·  2,668 ratings  ·  177 reviews
A modern day Edison offers a serious look at the future that reads like great science fiction. Called the "ultimate thinking machine" by Forbes magazine, Kurzweil has the authority to speak about the future with the courage to do so.
Audio CD, 2 pages
Published January 1st 1999 by Penguin Audio (first published 1998)
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As an AI person, I have mixed feelings about this book. Half of me says that it's nonsense: the author come across as ludicrously optimistic, indeed quite out of touch with reality, and saturated with hubris to the point where it's starting to crystallize out in his hair. Who could ever take this crap seriously?

The other half points out that, even though AI has a terrible history of overhyping itself, the errors are often not as bad as they first appear. People in the 50s did indeed make themsel
Oct 15, 2014 Armin rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Technology/futurist enthusiasts
The Age of Spiritual Machines, is an attention-grabbing and misleading title given to a decent futuristic book. I have long wanted to read a book by Ray Kurzweil. He is one of the most prolific futurist writers. The news of him becoming the Director of Engineering at Google, re-sparked my interest in him.

I enjoyed the book, and found it quite accessible. Almost too accessible! Considering the complex nature of the subject-matter, technicalities are kept to a minimum. This is a good thing or a ba
Todd Martin
In The Age of Spiritual Machines author, and futurist, Ray Kurzweil prognosticates the rise of intelligent machines (among other things). The book was written in 1999, and he has predictions for 2009 so there’s been enough time for some of his predictions to be tested. Unfortunately he fares very, very poorly. See for yourself:

The ones he gets right were those things that were either already available in 1999 or are incremental extensions of things that w
Tyler Franklin
Arthur C. Clarke's 3rd law holds that "any technology, sufficiently advanced, is indistinguishable from magic." While we know this technology is currently being developed, on schedule, it's simply difficult to imagine the implications for humanity without it seeming somehow contrived. "Deus ex machina;" so it comes to this.

Again, while I am convinced the premises are valid and the argument is sound, and therefore accept his projections as nearly true, it does not make them easier to believe. An
Lynne Williamson
I talked to a good friend of mine today at brunch who has a PhD in cellular and molecular biology about some of the science and the futurisms in Kurzweil's book. My friend said immediately, "he sounds like a physicist, and those crazy physicists will invent things like the particles that don't know which way they are going until they are 'observed' because they don't know what is really happening." I said, "it's like a physicist's version of the "god of the gaps." And he agreed. Of course, being ...more
Ray Kurzweil has been accused by some as being incredibly optimistic in his vision for the future of humanity and the computer's that we've created. His predictions, however, have an uncanny way of coming to pass, at least in large part. Spiritual Machines was written in 1999 and speaks of the advances that computers will make in the twenty-first century.

Now, a decade later, it is possible to look at the first of Kurzweil's predictions, helpfully listed out in a chapter labeled "2009" and evalua
Feb 09, 2007 Scott rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Anyone
Shelves: singularity
After reading this book I was completely giddy about the future. Everything suddenly seemed possible, nothing impossible, all without invoking anything supernatural. This is what I was looking for to replace my lost religion. Ray Kurzweil pointed out the now obvious end result of the rapid exponential advances in computer technology. Others discovered the trends long before but Ray Kurzweil put it all together in one incredibly fun book to read. Kurzweil’s thesis rests on the exponential growth ...more
Kurzweil looks at history and demostrates to us that the rate of technological progress has always been growing exponentially. And that part of the book, part one, is a lot of fun to read. Borrow the book, read this section and enjoy.

But where Kurzweil wants to go with this is into the future. And here you have to keep in mind that the book was written in 1998 so we're part of the future he's looking into. And, like many before him, not only does he not get a home run with every hit, he doesn't
Robert Boyd
Wow. I'd heard about this book for years and was familiar enough with the theory of singularity, but I just kept wishing I had read this sooner. It made me realize that I should make a point of reading more books written by geniuses.

This book is prophetic. By now, many of Kurzweil's predictions have been realized (the fact that his predictions on wearable personal computers, electronic books, and text-to-speech technology were read to me by my Kindle device, which I had stowed in my coat pocket
Monwar Hussain
I would love to give this book six stars.

Even three quarters through the book, I could not believe Kurzweil had written this in Nineteen freaking Ninety-Eight!! The book is almost so good, I cannot read it for long. I myself am a huge technology enthusiast, and I suffer from the common problem in just gushing about Technology. Now, on a meta-level, Kurzweil does that too, I guess. :) But his writing is so measured, so specific, yet not lifeless and so powerful.

This coming after Antifragile where
Scott Lee
I first encountered Kurzweil as either an interview or article subject (don't remember which) in WIRED magazine several years ago. I found his ideas fascinating (although I don't personally believe we're headed into his vision of the future) and in fact ended up spinning several short stories out of my own response to the ideas in the interview as transmogrified (gotta love Calvin & Hobbes!) by my brain in the intervening years.

Unfortunately, when allowed to go on at length (as he does here
Ovidiu Neatu
Epoca masinilor spirituale, prezinta unele tendinte pe care le vede autorul, si incearca sa extrapoleze aceste tendinte pentru a arunca o privire in viitor. Tendinte precum decelerarea exponentiala a frecventei cu care au loc evenimente semnificative la scara universului –de la Big Band pana in prezent-, iar acest lucru va continua pe masura ce entropia isi face treaba: creste dezordinea. Dar in mijlocul acestei cresteri a dezordinii pachete mici de ordine iau forma din cand in cand. Aceste pach ...more
Nate Huston
Great book. Definitely one that I will return to, most likely a few times. One reason for that will be that Kurzweil has a habit of quickly accelerating into the realm of mind-bending, especially in his theoretical discussions. While those were mentally taxing to fully wrap my brain around, even the most complex ones were short and succinct.

The most striking takeaway is Kurzweil's conception of technology as a continuation of "evolution by other means." Besides oblique reference to Uncle Carl,
Nov 27, 2012 Charles rated it 1 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Drug enthusiasts. Delusional people. Kurzweil fan club. Absolutely no one.
Shelves: technology
Really disliked this one. Surprised by the amount of text the author dedicates to cybersex. Buzz words and jargon used like a fog to mask a lack of actual explication. Kurzweil kept popping up in annoying ways -- name-dropping his inventions, talking about the deadline for the book, having an extended conversation with an imagined reader named Molly. Not a lot of substance here.

Kurzweil does coherently present his Law of Accelerating Returns, but he doesn't address the problem of energy in a fin
When I read this book in 2000, it blew my mind. It actually changed the way I looked at everything. It made me feel like I knew a secret, something important, that other people didn't know. While I still believe in Kurzweil's genius, and his futurist prophecies, this book is obsolete.

For a current, in-depth look at Kurzweil's brilliant mind, find the 2009 documentary "Transcendent Man", and see Kurzweil talk about the fast approaching realization of his "singularity" theory.


Lorin Cary
This is an amazing book. A futurist, Ray Kurzweil not only writes about technology, specifically, technology related to computing, he is a creator of technologies which have made computers 'smarter.' About half of the book is devoted to scenarios: the shape of technology in the society of 1999, 2009, 2019, 2029, and 2099. These are fascinating and provide a treasure trove for science fiction writers.A time line traces a variety of technological developments, scientific theories and thought modes ...more
Did you ever wondered if a computer can become more intelligent than humans. Age of Spiritual Machines is a book which will answer this question, give you new ideas, and really makes you feel like some body is talking to you through the book.
The topics in this book and the answers to the questions in your mind is really great. The answers might be what you call "different" but really works.
Ideas or at least ideas are very rare and interesting. The way the author talks about future, telling w
Enrique López
First of all, some of Kurzweil books seem to follow the same outline and topics. This book strongly remind me of "The singularity is near", and in some chapters I had the feeling of being reading exactly the former book. If I would have read "The Age of Spiritual Machines" at the first place, I would have gave 5 stars.

Said that, Ray Kurzweil envisions a future where humans and machines will converge into one single entity. He makes predictions for some of the upcoming years, having written this
Ali Al-Gharrash
يتابع هذا الكتاب الشيق التطور الكبير والحاصل في قطاع التكنولوجيا ويستعرض بشكل علمي اعتماداً على التطورات السابقة ويتبنأ بالتطورات القادمة وبالثورة التكنولوجية والتي ستحصل في العقود القادمة ويتحدث عن ماهيتها ومدى تأثيرها في حياة البشر وكيف ستكون سيطرة الآلات الذكية في حياة البشر

كتاب شيق جداً استمتعت في قراءته
Jul 03, 2008 Gus rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Anyone
Ray Kurzweil is hailed as one of the most accurate and brilliant futurists of our time and this book details his views on what our technological world will look like in 10, 20, 50, 100 years. It is fascinating and thought provoking.
Krishna Kumar
What an extraordinary book. Kurzweil uses current trends in the growth of computing power to predict how machine intelligence will overtake human intelligence in a few decades from now. He discusses various technologies that will accelerate this trend and the legal, political and cultural issues that will inevitably arise in such a world. Well-written with quite an amazing number of references. The conversations in the book between the author and an imaginary person in various future years start ...more
This is another book that I read for my science fiction and technology class. It had a lot of interesting predictions, as the book was written at the turn of the century, about the future and the way the world was going to change and adapt based on technological advancements. Some predictions proved true, others a bit too radical -- but definitely on the horizon. My favorite aspect was the way it was written: at the end of each chapter, Kurzweil had a conversation with an AI that he created abou ...more
Ahmed Khalifa
A dated but hauntingly spot-on piece of tech speculation. Kurzweil is often right about future trends, his voice is fresh and funny, and he decides not to shoehorn himself into any one industry so the breadth of topics addressed is just so great.

A technical-seeming read at first, but it gives way to some philosophical introspection at times, and you'll find yourself putting the book down every few minutes to just wonder at the potential ramifications of future tech.

tl;dr: Technology is awesome,
we are in great trouble!
كتاب ذو محتوى صعب، لا يعتبر من الكتب التي تقرأ من باب التسلية، ولا أظن أنه يناسب غير المختصين أو المهتمين كثيراً بمجال التكنولوجيا

يدور الكتاب حول الخطوة التالية لتطور التقنية
ففي العقد الحالي من القرن الحادي والعشرين سيصل الكمبيوتر إلى مستوى الذكاء البشري، والمزيج من الذكاء الذي يعادل الذكاء الإنساني مع التفوق الطبيعي للكمبيوترات في السرعة والدقة سيكون مزيجاً مخيفاً

كان ظهور التكنولوجيا نقطة تحول في تطور الذكاء على الأرض، وستكون نقطة التحول التالية هي التكنولوجيا التي تتطور دون تدخل الإنسان

In this book, Computer Artificial Intelligence researcher Ray Kurzweil tries to predict the future of computers, from 1999 - 2099 CE. In brief, he predicts that by the end of the 21st century human and machine intelligence will have "merged" -- computers will be as sentient as us, and humans will have "uploaded" our minds into a Virtual Reality utopia, in which we live for eternity as immortal software. While I don't so easily dismiss the idea of future "artificial humans", I cannot believe that ...more
Honestly, the book feels like some sort of science fiction thing. Kurzweil ends by predicting the entire merger of human identity with computer technology. The human carbon-based body will become obsolete and the mind will essentially be "downloaded" into a network of other beings,. "Actually there won't be mortality by the end of the twenty-first century. Not in the sense that we have known it. Not if you take advantage of the twenty-first century's brain-porting technology. Up until now, our m ...more
Yaser Sulaiman
At times thought-provoking and intriguing, but ultimately unconvincing.

The words of Douglas Hofstadter pretty much summarize what I think of this book: "it's a very bizarre mixture of ideas that are solid and good with ideas that are crazy. It's as if you took a lot of very good food and some dog excrement and blended it all up so that you can't possibly figure out what's good or bad."

Why am I not convinced? Well, the exponential growth of computing power over the last 100 years is hardly deniab
Very fun to read, kinda technical at times but overall an easy read. The book serves as an intimation of future events, not as a prediction. And in that sense I very much enjoyed it. That being said, there were whole sections I skimmed over, and they were the area's Ray used his "artistic license" to hold a conversation with an imaginary friends who travels through time... he is not a fiction writer... that's all I'll say.
The idea's presented in the book follow a set of laws (law of accelerating
Jim Razinha
This one was a little flat for me, and not just because of the title. I can't fathom why he would equate "spiritual" and "intelligence" - of course, both are evolutionary products, but they are not synonymous in any way. Whenever humans build conscious machines, I really hope that those machines won't have the electronic equivalent of the human gene that makes them susceptible to superstition/belief. Still, the book was engaging enough until Kurzweil started talking about the "elegance of Buddhi ...more
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Raymond Kurzweil is an inventor and futurist who has published books on health, artificial intelligence, transhumanism, and the technological singularity.
More about Ray Kurzweil...
The Singularity is Near: When Humans Transcend Biology How to Create a Mind: The Secret of Human Thought Revealed Transcend: Nine Steps to Living Well Forever Fantastic Voyage: Live Long Enough to Live Forever The Age of Intelligent Machines

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