Briefly Noted: Singularity Seer

Ray Kurzweil has an astonishing record as an inventor and technological forecaster, but he is perhaps most famous for his 2005 book The Singularity Is Near. In it he predicts that by 2045 exponential technological growth will cause computer intelligence to outstrip human intelligence, utterly changing everything about the human world.

A new documentary by Barry Ptolemy, Transcendent Man, humanizes the geek prophet by telling Kurzweil’s personal story: his longing for a father who died young, his struggles with heart problems and diabetes, the 200 vitamins he takes each day. But the film puts too much emphasis on the psychological why at the expense of the technological how. The Kurzweil who invents devices to help the blind read and gives PowerPoint presentations full of logarithmic curves to packed stadiums is ultimately a more compelling character than the guy with a storage locker full of his dad’s dry cleaning receipts who hopes to bring the old man back to life someday.

Find this and hundreds of other interesting books at the Reason Shop, powered by Amazon.

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

GET REASON MAGAZINE

Get Reason's print or digital edition before it’s posted online

  • Progressive Puritans: From e-cigs to sex classifieds, the once transgressive left wants to criminalize fun.
  • Port Authoritarians: Chris Christie’s Bridgegate scandal
  • The Menace of Secret Government: Obama’s proposed intelligence reforms don’t safeguard civil liberties

SUBSCRIBE

advertisement