of books by Ray Kurzweil

RAY KURZWEIL is an inventor music synthesizers and machines with various recognition technologies. A promoter of machine learning and artificial intelligence, Kurzweil's writings are widely influential.

The Age of Spiritual Machines
by Ray Kurzweil
Penguins Books, 1999
The subtitle of the book - when computers exceed human intelligence - summarizes Kurzweil's central belief in the future of machine that are like and in many respects better than men. Read through the glossary and you get an abridged version of his writings, excellent definitions of terms for readers unfamiliar with computer technology and intelligent machine ideas. But can machines ever be like humans? The whole premise of spiritual and intelligent machines is the congruity of brains and computers and that intelligence is just a matter of complexity. Other questions raised and not answered are; are computers thinking or just calculating? Sometimes a shaky arguments carries the text; "The human brain presumably follows the laws of physics, so it must be a machine, albeit a very complex one" (p.5). But stones follow the laws of physics, a bacterium, a tree. Are they machines, too? The biggest difference between man and machine, however, is that the latter are optimal solutions and operate fast, while life depends on suboptimal solutions. Life is adaptable, machines are not. Just because software can be written that simulates adaptation does not make the machine evolvable.

April 12, 2005 /  © 2005 Lukas K. Buehler / go back to Book Review Home