Review Of The Age Of Spiritual Machines And Artificial Intelligence.

2030 words - 8 pages

The first chapters of The Age of Spiritual Machines provide the foundation for Ray Kurzweil to issue his predictions later in the book. They include many theorems of physics and mathematics so it is possible to miss the essential principles later in the book without reading them. Nevertheless, his choice of words delineates some difficult concepts, making this tough but rewarding reading. The first chapter ultimately leads up to the most important principle of the book, The Law of Accelerating Returns, which is that an evolutionary process is not a closed system; therefore, evolution draws upon the chaos in the larger system in which it takes place for its options of diversity. Also, evolution builds on its own increasing order. In an evolutionary process, order increases exponentially. Time exponentially speeds up and the valuable products of the process accelerate. Kurzweil uses this fundamental principle, in addition to others, to justify his many predictions.The next chapter deals with the process of evolution. The evolution of intelligent beings has taken billions of years. But we have created something that is evolving at an extremely faster pace, technology. In a matter of about a thousand years, human-created technology has changed from nonexistent to essential to most people. Human intelligence, a product of evolution, is far more intelligent than its creator. And so, too, will the intelligence that we are creating come to exceed the intelligence of its creator; the Law of Accelerating Returns predicts it.Alan Turing, a British mathematician who helped crack Germany's Enigma code during World War II, was on the forefront of artificial intelligence. He devised a test, duly called the Turing Test, in which a human judge interviews both a computer and one or more human foils using terminals. If the human judge is unable to reliably unmask the computer, then the computer wins. In Turing view, thinking involves conscious intentions.The human brain has about 100 billion neurons. With about 1000 connections between each neuron and its neighbors, we have about 100 trillion connections, each capable of simultaneously calculation. With 100 trillion connections, each computing at 200 calculations per second, we get 20 million billion calculations per second. Due to the acceleration of computational power, following Moore's Law, which states the speed of computers doubles every 18 months, by the year 2020, the speed of the fastest computer will equal that of the human brain.After the relevant facts of the past 50+ years are displayed for us in the beginning of the book, the predictions for the future ensue, starting with the year 2009. In 2009 a personal computer can perform a trillion calculations per second. Computers are embedded in clothing and jewelry. Most routine business transactions take place between a human and a virtual person. In 2019 a computer is now equal to the human brain in computational ability. Computers are now ubiquitous but...

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