Am höchsten bewertete positive Rezension
2 Personen fanden diese Informationen hilfreich
Fascinating thoughts - if only Kurzweil weren't so uncritically in love with his own ideas...
am 22. August 2009
There are lots of reasons to criticize this book, especially ten years after it was written. Nevertheless, I completely endorse it, whether you agree with the author or not. "The Age of Spiritual Machines" is about no less than the future evolution of mankind, and this is a topic everybody should be concerned about and (still) almost nobody is.
Kurzweil is a relentless optimist, both about the time frame of his predictions and about their implications. Reading his predictions for the year 2009, two economy crashes after the book was written, makes you want to smile about the naivete prevailing in the late nineties, the New Economy times when everything seemed possible. Kurzweil also mostly ignores social and political factors, basing his book solely on a technological view of development. That there are more factors to societal progress than technology was clear even in the nineties. In ignoring those factors, Kurzweil outs himself as a complete technocrat, a computer geek without much contact with the "Real World (TM)".
Also, he bases all his assumptions on his self-styled "Law of Accelerating Returns", which (simplified) states that evolution accelerates exponentially, that evolution compulsorily leads to technology and computing, and that computing power grows exponentially over time (as per Moore's Law). While his deduction of this so-called law is plausible, it is by no means scientifically sound. Plausibility is no substitute for scientific rigor. (The idea that god placed dinosaur bones in the ground when he created the Earth six thousand years ago is plausible too, if only you want to believe it.) This law could at best be called a conjecture. Still, Kurzweil accepts it uncritically as a fact and bases his book entirely on it.
Kurzweil is no scientist, of course. He is an inventor. As an inventor, he must have both the vision and the enthusiasm to carry his vision through. This explains why he is so in love with his own ideas. It also explains why the book is, despite the deep flaws in it foundation, a great read. While Kurzweil is wrong about the time scale and the inevitability of the development of machine intelligence, his arguments are well researched and entertainingly written. Kurzweil has worked at the cutting edge of research into usable artificial intelligence, and he knows what he is talking about. The book is full of ideas about how machine intelligence can develop, what it might mean, and what it can be good for. Even if the book is far more speculative than he might want to admit, its value lies in making one central point: That evolution does not end with homo sapiens sapiens, that computers are a strong candidate for the next step on evolution's ladder, and that they could evolve much sooner than we'd like to think.
The influence of this book is hard to overestimate. That Kurzweil actually manages to overestimate it, and that he plugs himself too shamelessly, accounts for the deduction in stars I'm giving this book.