Re: REVIEW: Kurzweil talk

Max More (
Fri, 22 Jan 1999 10:18:59 -0800

At 08:45 AM 1/22/99 -0800, Mike wrote:
>On Wednesday I saw Ray Kurzweil give a short talk promoting "The
>Age of Spiritual Machines" at Stacey's in downtown San Francisco.
>He spoke of the usual stuff (superintelligences, uploading, nanotech)
>and made a few interesting claims/points.
>* He graphed the speed of computing devices from 1900 to present, and
> claimed that computing speed is not only increasing exponentially,
> but that the rate at which computing speed is increasing is
> increasing exponentially (the graph on a log scale curves upwards).

Hans Moravec has been making the same point in recent years. I haven't seen his new book, but a couple of years ago he showed me a graph from the book in progress clearly making this point. The acceleration is acclerating. Tighten your safety belts!

>* He talked about how exponential advances seem small at first, then
> explode.

Yes, in his book, Kurzweil makes this point very strongly.

>Q: I understand that computers will be smart and can ape human artists,
> but will they ever be creative? Will they ever create radical
> new movements and art, like Picasso and de Kooning?
>A: Much of human creativity involves drawing connections between
> previously unconnected elements/ideas. Computers will be able
> to do this quite well. There are already some examples.

>I forgot the examples.

His book has plenty of excellent examples. He gives a URL for downloading his own poetry-writing program (RKCP) that does a fine job of emulating various styles. You can get that from Here's a great Haiku that his software came up with:

Crazy moon child
Hide from your coffin
To spite your doom.

> I still haven't looked at "The Age of
>Spiritual Machines", and probably won't (my backlog is way too big),
>but based on the talk I saw I'd recommend the book to someone
>unfamiliar with but interested in the subject.

I finished the book a couple of days ago and highly recommend it. It is not a comprehensive overview of all things transhumanist, but does an excellent job from the computational aspect.



Max More, Ph.D.
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Philosophical issues of technology
President, Extropy Institute:,