The Singularity Is Near

When Humans Transcend Biology

Ray Kurzweil - Author

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ISBN 9781101218884 | 672 pages | 22 Sep 2005 | Penguin | 18 - AND UP
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For over three decades, 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.



The Power of Ideas


The Six Epochs

The Intuitive Linear View Versus the Historical Exponential View

The Six Epochs
Epoch One: Physics and Chemistry. Epoch Two: Biology and DNA. Epoch Three: Brains. Epoch Four: Technology. Epoch Five: The Merger of Human Technology with Human Intelligence. Epoch Six: The Universe Wakes Up.

The Singularity Is Near


A Theory of Technology Evolution: The Law of Accelerating Returns

The Nature Order. The Life Cycle of a Paradigm. Fractal Designs. Farsighted Evolution.

The S-Curve of a Technology as Expressed in Its Life Cycle
The Life Cycle of a Technology. From Goat Skins to Downloads

Moore’s Law and Beyond
Moore’s Law: Self-Fulfilling Prophecy? The Fifth Paradigm. Fractal Dimensions and the Brain.

DNA Sequencing, Memory, Communications, the Internet, and Miniaturization
Information, Order, and Evolution: The Insights from Wolfram and Fredkin’s Cellular Automata. Can We Evolve Artificial Intelligence from Simple Rules?

The Singularity as Economic Imperative
Get Eighty Trillion Dollars—Limited Time Only. Deflation… a Bad Thing?


Achieving the Computational Capacity of the Human Brain

The Sixth Paradigm of Computing Technology: Three-Dimensional

Molecular Computing and Emerging Computational Technologies
The Bridge to a 3-D Molecular Computing. Nanotubes Are Still the Best Bet. Computing with Molecules. Self-Assembly. Emulating Biology. Computing with DNA. Computing with Spin. Computing with Light. Quantum Computing.

The Computational Capacity of the Human Brain
Accelerating the Availability of Human-Level Personal Computing. Human Memory Capacity.

The Limits of Computation
Reversible Computing. How Smart Is a Rock? The Limits of Nanocomputing. Setting a Date for the Singularity. Memory and Computational Efficiency: A Rock Versus a Human Brain. Going Beyond the Ultimate: Pico- and Femtotechnology and Bending the Speed of Light. Going Back in Time.


Achieving the Software of Human Intelligence: How to Reverse Engineer the Human Brain

Reverse Engineering the Brain: An Overview of the Task
New Brain-Imaging and Modeling Tools. The Software of the Brain. Analytic Versus Neuromorphic Modeling of the Brain. How Complex Is the Brain? Modeling the Brain. Peeling the Onion.

Is the Human Brain Different from a Computer?
The Brain’s Circuits Are Very Slow. But It’s Massively Parallel. The Brain Combines Analog and Digital Phenomena. The Brain Rewires Itself. Most of the Details in the Brain Are Random. The Brain Uses Emergent Properties. The Brain Is Imperfect. We Contradict Ourselves. The Brain Uses Evolution. The Patterns Are Important. The Brain Is Holographic. The Brain Is Deeply Connected. The Brain Does Have an Architecture of Regions. The Design of a Brain Region Is Simpler than the Design of a Neuron. Trying to Understand Our Own Thinking: The Accelerating Pace of Research.

Peering Into the Brain
New Tools for Scanning the Brain. Improving Resolution. Scanning Using Nanobots

Building Models of the Brain
Subneural Models: Synapses and Spines. Neuron Models. Electronic Neurons. Brain Plasticity. Modeling Regions of the Brain. A Neuromorphic Model: The Cerebellum. Another Example: Watts’s Model of the Auditory Regions. The Visual System. Other Works in Progress: An Artificial Hippocampus and an Artificial Olivocerebellar Region. Understanding Higher-Level Functions: Imitation, Prediction, and Emotion.

Interfacing the Brain and Machines

The Accelerating Pace of Reverse Engineering the Brain
The Scalability of Human Intelligence.

Uploading the Human Brain


GNR: Three Overlapping Revolutions/b>

Genetics: The Intersection of Information and Biology
Life’s Computer. Designer Baby Boomers. Can We Really Live Forever? RNAi (RNA Interference). Cell Therapies. Gene Chips. Somatic Gene Therapy. Reversing Degenerative Disease. Combating Heart Disease. Overcoming Cancer. Reversing Aging. DNA Mutations. Toxic Cells. Mitochondrial Mutations. Intracellular Aggregates. Extracellular Aggregates. Cell Loss and Atrophy. Human Cloning: The Least Interesting Application of Cloning Technology. Why Is Cloning Important? Preserving Endangered Species and Restoring Extinct Ones. Therapeutic Cloning. Human Somatic-Cell Engineering. Solving World Hunger. Human Cloning Revisited.

Nanotechnology: The Intersection of Information and the Physical World
The Biological Assembler. Upgrading the Cell Nucleus with a Nanocomputer and Nanobot. Fat and Sticky Fingers. The Debate Heats Up. Early Adopters. Powering the Singularity. Applications of Nanotechnology to the Environment. Nanobots in the Bloodstream.

Robotics: Strong AI
Runaway AI. The AI Winter. AI’s Toolkit. Expert Systems. Bayesian Nets. Markov Models. Neural Nets. Genetic Algorithms (Gas). Recursive Search. Deep Fritz Draws: Are Humans Getting Smarter, or Are Computers Getting Stupider? The Specialized-Hardware Advantage. Deep Blue Versus Deep Fritz. Significant Software Gains. Are Human Chess Players Doomed? Combining Methods. A Narrow AI Sampler. Military and Intelligence. Space Exploration. Medicine. Science and Math. Business, Finance, and Manufacturing. Manufacturing and Robotics. Speech and Language. Entertainment and Sports. Strong AI.


The Impact…
A Panoply of Impacts

…on the Human Body
A New Way of Eating. Redesigning the Digestive System. Programmable Blood. Have a Heart, or Not. So What’s Left? Redesigning the Human Brain. We Are Becoming Cyborgs. Human Body Version 3.0.

…on the Human Brain
The 2010 Scenario. The 2030 Scenario. Become Someone Else. Experience Beamers. Expand Your Mind.

…on Human Longevity
The Transformation to Nonbiological Experience. The Longevity of Information.

…on Warfare: The Remote, Robotic, Robust, Size-Reduced, Virtual-Reality Paradigm
Smart Dust. Nanoweapons. Smart Weapons. VR.

…on Learning

…on Work
Intellectual Property. Decentralization.

…on Play

…on the Intelligent Destiny of the Cosmos: Why We Are Probably Alone in the Universe
The Drake Equation. The Limits of Computation Revisited. Bigger or Smaller. Expanding Beyond the Solar System. The Speed of Light Revisited. Wormholes. Changing the Speed of Light. The Fermi Paradox Revisited. The Anthropic Principle Revisited. The Multiverse. Evolving Universes. Intelligence as the Destiny of the Universe. The Ultimate Utility Function. Hawking Radiation. Why Intelligence Is More Powerful than Physics. A Universe-Scale Computer. The Holographic Universe.


Ich bin ein Singularitarian
Still Human?

The Vexing Question of Consciousness

Who Am I? What Am I?

The Singularity as Transcendence


The Deeply Intertwined Promise and Peril of GNR

Intertwined Benefits…

…and Dangers

A Panoply of Existential Risks
The Precautionary Principle. The Smaller the Interaction, the Larger the Explosive Potential. Our Simulation Is Turned Off. Crashing the Party. GNR: The Proper Focus of Promise Versus Peril. The Inevitability of a Transformed Future. Totalitarian Relinquishment.

Preparing the Defenses
Strong AI. Returning to the Past?

The Idea of Relinquishment
Broad Relinquishment. Fine-Grained Relinquishment. Dealing with Abuse. The Threat from Fundamentalism. Fundamentalist Humanism.

Development of Defensive Technologies and the Impact of Regulation
Protection from “Unfriendly” Strong AI. Decentralization. Distributed Energy. Civil Liberties in an Age of Asymmetric Warfare.


Response to Critics

A Panoply of Criticisms

The Criticism from Incredulity

The Criticism from Malthus
Exponential Trends Don’t Last Forever. A Virtually Unlimited Limit.

The Criticism from Software
Software Stability. Software Responsiveness. Software Price-Performance. Software Development Productivity. Software Complexity. Accelerating Algorithms. The Ultimate Source of Intelligent Algorithms.

The Criticism from Analog Processing

The Criticism from the Complexity of Neural Processing
Brain Complexity. A Computer’s Inherent Dualism. Levels and Loops.

The Criticism from Microtubules and Quantum Computing

The Criticism from the Church-Turing Thesis

The Criticism from Failure Rates

The Criticism from “Lock-In”

The Criticism from Ontology: Can a Computer be Conscious?
Kurzweil’s Chinese Room.

The Criticism from the Rich-Poor Divide

The Criticism from the Likelihood of Government Regulation
The Unbearable Slowness of Social Institutions

The Criticism from Theism

The Criticism from Holism

How Singular? Human Centrality.

Resources and Contact Information

Appendix: The Law of Accelerating Returns Revisited



Artfully envisions a breathtakingly better world. (Los Angeles Times)

A pleasure to read. (The Wall Street Journal)

The best person I know at predicting the future of artificial intelligence (Bill Gates)

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