The Singularity is Near is pretty dense. Not something most people will want to sit down and read in one pass. In fact I worked on it over a couple of months. It is hard to really grasp Kurzweil's future. A future driven by exponential growth in knowledge and computing power.that actually alter the basic tenets of human life.
His future vision is about knowledge explosion, computing, the biological revolution, the nanotechnology revolution and the organization of the human brain. As usual it is a mind blowing collection of great value to those of us who care where the future is taking us.
To grapple with the information contained in this expansion of the human potential over the next four decades takes an open mind and a willingness to accept at least some of what you may not understand.
I know some basic things about nanotech and the biotech revolution. I am as familiar with computing as any person who has participated in the development of that technology for the last forty years. But this book expanded my breadth and depth of knowledge dramatically. It is a heady experience and one well worth living if you like to know where humanity may be headed.
Buy it, borrow it, steal it, (apologies to Ray) but get your hands on it and read this book. It will help you understand the changes that are approaching and help you benefit from them rather than simply being run over by them. They are headed our way and moving at exponential speeds already. We do need to be ready for them.
Here is the publisher's take:
The great inventor and futurist Ray Kurzweil is one of the best-known and controversial advocates for the role of machines in the future of humanity.
In his latest, thrilling foray into the future, he envisions an event--the "singularity"--in which technological change becomes so rapid and so profound that our bodies and brains will merge with our machines.
The Singularity Is Near portrays what life will be like after this event--a human-machine civilization where our experiences shift from real reality to virtual reality and where our intelligence becomes nonbiological and trillions of times more powerful than unaided human intelligence. In practical terms, this means that human aging and pollution will be reversed, world hunger will be solved, and our bodies and environment transformed by nanotechnology to overcome the limitations of biology, including death. We will be able to create virtually any physical product just from information, resulting in radical wealth creation.
In addition to outlining these fantastic changes, Kurzweil also considers their social and philosophical ramifications. With its radical but optimistic view of the course of human development, The Singularity Is Near is certain to be one of the most widely discussed and provocative books of 2005.