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The Age of Spiritual Machines
When Computers Exceed Human Intelligence
by Ray Kurzweil | Penguin paperback | 0-14-028202-5 | $14.95

Imagine a world where the difference between man and machine blurs, where the line between humanity and technology fades, and where the soul and the silicon chip unite. This is not science fiction. This is the twenty-first century according to Ray Kurzweil, the "restless genius" (Wall Street Journal) and inventor of the most innovative and compelling technology of our era. In The Age of Spiritual Machines, the brains behind the Kurzweil Reading Machine, the Kurzweil synthesizer, advanced speech recognition, and other technologies devises a framework for envisioning the next century. In his inspired hands, life in the new millennium no longer seems daunting. Instead, Kurzweil's twenty-first century promises to be an age in which the marriage of human sensitivity and artificial intelligence fundamentally alters and improves the way we live.

The Age of Spiritual Machines is no mere list of predictions but a prophetic blueprint for the future. Kurzweil guides us through the inexorable advances that will result in computers exceeding the memory capacity and computational ability of the human brain. According to Kurzweil, machines will achieve all this by 2020, with human attributes not far behind. We will begin to have relationships with automated personalities and use them as teachers, companions, and lovers. A mere ten years later, information will be fed straight into our brains along direct neural pathways; computers, for their part, will have read all the world's literature. The distinction between us and computers will have become sufficiently blurred that when the machines claim to be conscious, we will believe them.

In The Age of Spiritual Machines, the "ultimate thinking machine" (Forbes) forges the ultimate road to the next century.

Ray Kurzweil is the author of The Age of Intelligent Machines, which won the Association of American Publishers' Award for the Most Outstanding Computer Science Book of 1990. He was awarded the Dickson Prize, Carnegie Mellon's top science prize, in 1994. The Massachusetts Institute of Technology named him the Inventor of the Year in 1988. He is the recipient of nine honorary doctorates and honors from two U.S. presidents. Kurzweil lives in a suburb of Boston.

"With these brilliant descriptions of coming connections of computers with immortality, Kurzweil clearly takes his place as a leading futurist of our time. He links the relentless growth of our future technology to a universe in which artificial intelligence and nanotechnology may combine to bring unimaginable wealth and longevity, not merely to our descendants, but to some of those living today."
-- Marvin Minsky,
Toshiba Professor of Media Arts and Sciences, M.I.T.

"Twenty years from now, predicts Ray Kurzweil, $1,000 computers will match the power of the human brain. Kurzweil offers a thought-provoking analysis of human and artificial intelligence and a unique look at a future in which the capabilities of the computer and the species that invented it grow ever closer."
-- Bill Gates, Chairman of Microsoft

"Ray's technology and ideas have truly been among the sunshines of my life. This book is a wonderful riff on the next century from a keen seer, a great inventor, and a good friend."
-- Stevie Wonder

"Ray Kurzweil, peerless inventor of such brain extenders as reading machines, speech recognition, and music synthesis, has now reinvented the book as a luminous synthesis of mind and machine. In a series of witty, ingenious, and profound meditations, he explores the metamorphic moment when machines will attain and then surpass the capabilities of the human brain. This is a book that makes all other roads to the computer future look like goat paths in Patagonia."
-- George Gilder, Author of Wealth and Poverty, The Spirit of Enterprise, Microcosm, and Telecosm

"A sage, compelling vision of the future from one of our nation's leading innovators. Ray Kurzweil brings serious science, common sense, aesthetic sensibility, and a twinkling sense of humor to the question of where we are headed with the machines we call computers. With his pioneering inventions, and his penetrating ideas, Kurzweil convincingly takes us to 'the other side,' in what promises to be the most pivotal of centuries."
-- Mike Brown, Chairman of the Nasdaq Stock Market, Former Chief Financial Officer of Microsoft