- Tapa blanda: 388 páginas
- Editor: Penguin Group (1 de enero de 2000)
- Idioma: Inglés
- ISBN-10: 0140282025
- ISBN-13: 978-0140282023
- Valoración media de los clientes: Sé el primero en opinar sobre este producto
- Clasificación en los más vendidos de Amazon: nº83.605 en Libros en idiomas extranjeros (Ver el Top 100 en Libros en idiomas extranjeros)
The Age of Spiritual Machines (Inglés) Tapa blanda – ene 2000
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Descripción del producto
"This is a book for anyone who wonders where human technology is going next".
-- The New York Times Book Review
Reseña del editor
Ray Kurzweil is the inventor of the most innovative and compelling technology of our era, an international authority on artificial intelligence, and one of our greatest living visionaries. Now he offers a framework for envisioning the twenty-first century--an age in which the marriage of human sensitivity and artificial intelligence fundamentally alters and improves the way we live. Kurzweil's prophetic blueprint for the future takes us through the advances that inexorably result in computers exceeding the memory capacity and computational ability of the human brain by the year 2020 (with human-level capabilities not far behind); in relationships with automated personalities who will be our teachers, companions, and lovers; and in information fed straight into our brains along direct neural pathways. Optimistic and challenging, thought-provoking and engaging, The Age of Spiritual Machines is the ultimate guide on our road into the next century.Ver Descripción del producto
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As far as hardware is concerned, the author insists that Moore's law, according to which computing power at a given cost doubles every 18 months, will continue unabated. Current computer technology will hit fundamental physical constrains in about 10 years, but the author insists that intelligence will find a way to grow explosively without slowing down because of mere physics. He describes several potential avenues through which computer power can increase. The most intriguing one is the possibility of building quantum computers. According to theory these can have immense computing power, because quantum phenomena allow for a huge number of calculations to be done in parallel. Nature does never give something for nothing, and, for my taste, quantum computers come too close to the edge - but who knows?
More interesting is the question of software. When I was a student I was taught that hardware power is not very significant for defining the reach of computers, because algorithmic complexity almost always grows exponentially when related to the size of the problem to be solved. So fundamental advances will come from better algorithms, not from increased hardware power. The current state of affairs seems to agree with this view. After all, word processing 20 years ago using an Apple II is not fundamentally different from word processing today using computers a thousand times more powerful. Algorithmic design is a very costly process that few humans can do well, and this fact, it seems, would necessarily frustrate the rapid increase in machine intelligence. The author produces two solutions: One, to dissect a human brain and copy its "algorithm". To me this sounds rather similar to Da Vinci's idea of dissecting birds in order to build a flying machine. The second solution refers to methods where the algorithm builds itself, i.e. learns how to work. Two methodologies are mentioned here, genetic algorithms and neural nets. Many examples are given about the successful use of these to solve surprisingly difficult problems. These are powerful ideas. Certainly if we come to a point where an intelligent machine can design and maybe build an even more intelligent machine, then indeed we have the ingredients for a runaway explosion of intelligence.
The author paints a rather scary near future. First we use machines to broaden our own minds, but we also build independent machines that become more and more powerful. The war between conscious machines and humans never happens, because it is won by the machines before it even starts: Human minds migrate into machines and lead a fruitful life within the more expansive means that this new medium offers. A few biological humans remain at a much lower level of intelligence, and presumably wilt away without remorse or bitterness. The next level of evolution is achieved by beings that are unimaginably more intelligent than we are now. At this stage it is not meaningful to talk about machines, they are just our offspring living in bodies that are not DNA based. In fact these immortal beings include persons originally born as humans, including, it is stated, Microsoft's Bill Gates. Again, all of this will happen in the next 100 years.
Now, what is wrong in this picture, apart from the idea of having Bill Gates around for all eternity?
For starters, for this vision to work the whole world should be like California, which it is not. On most places of this planet misery rather than intelligence rules. The book was written before the techno-bubble burst, an event not predicted in the book, and also before the recent power failures in California itself. The earth is in such bad working order that one must wonder if ever intelligence will take hold.
Also, if the explosion of intelligence is a necessary natural phenomenon, something like an unstoppable supernova, then by now the universe should be full of manifestations of intelligence, it should be infused, drenched, saturated by intelligence. Why, entire suns would be cloaked in order to harvest their energy needed for the huge amount of computations going on. (Maybe this explains the mystery of the dark matter, i.e. the fact that most matter in the universe is not visible.) Also, why hasn't this cosmic intelligent fabric reached us? Well, maybe they wanted to leave part of the universe in its natural state, you know like we keep protected nature parks. Our corner of the universe may be just such a place. We do not listen to the noise created by intelligence elsewhere, but maybe this only shows our low level of development.
Now, if we assume that the universe is not really intelligent, this leaves us with three possibilities: First, for some reason there may exist intrinsic limits to the growth of intelligence. This does not seem probable, particularly after reading this book. Second, depressingly, the explosive growth of intelligence may always bring about its demise, the same way that the uncontrolled growth of cancer kills the organism that creates it. This sounds rather plausible if we observe the way humanity manages the world today. The third possibility is that the growth of intelligence reaches a level where it decides to stop, where it understands that the "law of accelerating returns" is not conducive to happiness. So maybe the universe is filled not only by intelligent, but also by wise races, that look after their own small garden without disturbing the rest of creation, and live meaningful, biological, limited lives.
All in all, this is an extremely interesting book to read. I withhold one star, only because I find that the catchy title has little relevance to its content.
Anyway, this is a fascinating portrait of life what life may be like in the next century (most of you reading this, Kurzweil says, will live to see the things predicted come to pass) by a fascinating person. I'm not qualified to comment on whether the scenarios he predicts are really plausible, but it's certainly interesting. By 2099, humanity has effectively acheived immortality. If you like this book, I'd suggest Eric Drexler's two less-technical books (Engines of Creation and Unbounding the Future) as well. Nanosystems is a bit over my head.
I found the first section of the book to be a little bit slower than the second half, but this is only because the author is laying down the foundation of his future predictions found in the second half.
The author is a little too quick to gloss over the potential evil uses of this technology, and at times seems to demonstrate, (through the use of fictional characters), his annoyance at those who want to slow down the march to a brave new world.
The author's predictions are a little too upbeat for my tastes, but since it was published in 2000 and probably written 98-99, I forgive him for that. The sentiments of our future with technology expressed in this book seem to be a little bit dated, from a time before the hard economic times hit the US technology industry.
Despite these minor points, I look forward to reading further writings by this author. His book is an excellent counterpoint to the doomsday views of our future expressed in movies like Terminator and Mad Max.