Nordic Track Book Club Review: The Singularity is Near, Part 2

Ray Kurzweil’s The Singularity is Near. Part 2 from the Nordic Track Ski Machine.  Part 1 is located here.

Chapter Two: A Theory of Technology Evolution

p.36  Paradigm shifts are major changes in methods and intellectual processes to accomplish tasks.

p.41  Technology will be the metaphorical opposable thumb that enables our next step in evolution.  …In another positive feedback loop, the more effective a particular evolutionary process becomes, the greater the amount of resources that are deployed toward the further progress of that process.

p.46  A deterministic fractal is a design in which a single design element (called the initiator) is replaced with multiple elements (together called the generator.)  In a second iteration of fractal expansion, each element in the generator itself becomes an initiator and is replaced with the elements of the generator.  …In order to understand how a biological system such as the brain works, however, we need to understand its design principles, which are far simpler (that is, contain far less information) than the extremely detailed structures that the genetic information generates through these iterative, fractal-like processes.

p.56  Ensuring a secure means to make electronic information available is a fundamental concern for every level of our economy.  Everything–including physical products, once nanotechnology-based manufacturing becomes a reality in about twenty years–is becoming information.  “Computer Science is no more about computers than astronomy is about telescopes.” (E.W. Dijkstra)

p.84  The genetics (or biotechnology) revolution is bringing the information revolution, with its exponentially increasing capacity and price-performance, to the field of biology.  Similarly, the nanotechnology revolution will bring the rapidly increasing mastery of information to materials and mechanical systems.  The robotics (or “strong AI”) revolution involves the reverse engineering of the human brain, combining the resulting insights with increasingly powerful computational platforms.  These three overlapping transformations represent different facets of the information revolution.

p.98  On the one hand, longevity increases will vastly outstrip the government’s modest expectations.  On the other hand, people won’t be seeking to retire at sixty-five when they have the bodies and brains of thirty-year-olds.  The exponential trends underlying productivity growth are just beginning this explosive phase.  The U.S. real gross domestic product has grown exponentially, fostered by improving productivity from technology.  Products ordered in five minutes on the web and delivered to your door are woth more than products that you have to fetch yourself.  These sorts of improvements are taking place in most product categories, and none of them is reflected in the productivity statistics.

p.105  Going to a web site will mean entering a virtual-reality environment–at least for the visual and auditory senses–where we can directly interact with products and people, both real and simulated.


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A long time developer, I was an early adopter of Linux in the mid-90's for a few years until I entered corporate environments and worked with Microsoft technologies like ASP, then .NET. In 2008 I released Sueetie, an Online Community Platform built in .NET. In late 2012 I returned to my Linux roots and locked in on Java development. Much of my work is available on GitHub.