Justin Tadlock

The Singularity Is Near

When Humans Transcend Biology

This is a long overdue review, especially since it’s been almost two months since I finished reading Ray Kurzweil’s signature piece. Kurzweil has been bashed, laughed at, and called a lunatic many times over, but his book speaks for itself. There are facts, statistics, and scientific laws that provide plentiful proof to his findings.

The Singularity was an assigned book for my Technology, Literacy, & Culture class last semester, and I would have never picked it up otherwise. If by some chance I did pick it up (while browsing at Books-a-Million, I’d imagine) and read through a few lines, I definitely wouldn’t have read it. It’s a heavy read.

Once I got the feel for his scientific language, I started understanding what he was talking about. He was uncovering the truths of scientific progress and the possibilities of the very near future leading to The Singularity. What is the Singularity?

…technological change so rapid and profound it represents a rupture in the fabric of human history. The implications include the merger of biological and nonbiological intelligence, immortal software-based humans, and ultra-high levels of intelligence that expand outward in the universe at the speed of light.

~ Ray Kurzweil The Law of Accelerating Returns

Sounds a bit crazy, right? I might not be a hardcore believer in The Singularity, but I am a believer in many of the accomplishments that are inevitable in scientific progress in the coming years. And we are coming to a major biological and technological upheaval of progress in the next half century.

This book is more than just far-fetched science fiction-like claims. It has substance. It has charts and graphs and a notes section that is big enough to be a book itself. Kurzweil has done his homework, and he deserves some credit for laying out the future of mankind.

Bill Gates is even quoted as saying that Kurzweil is “The best person I know at predicting the future of artificial intelligence.” He is right in saying that. Kurzweil has been accurate beyond belief in predicting AI for many years. He may be on to something that the rest of are not.

However on or off Kurzweil is with his predictions, I’m ready to see this thing play out. I’m ready to see society transformed in ways that we never thought possible.