Spiritual computers

Tue, 29 Dec 1998 18:53:30 EST

I'm passing on this recent post on the Skeptic mailing list for your interest.

The Boston Globe ran an interesting review on 12/27/98, page L01, entitled:
"Can 'intelligent' machines ever be spiritual beings? High-tech prognosticator
Ray Kurzweil thinks so," by Chet Raymo. I don't want to download the entire review (even though someone sent it to me in a bulk e-mailing) as I've been called on the carpet recently for possible copyright violations, such as for passing along the Stephen Wright jokes (some of which were apparently by other comedians such as Gallagher and Carlin). (What is the law/ethics of this on the internet? anyone know?). You can track down the review at www.bostonglobe.com but here is a short summary.

Kurzweil, who apparently has an impressive track record for predicting computer breakthroughs, in his new book ''The Age of Spiritual Machines'' (he is also the author of ''The Age of Intelligent Machines," 1990) predicts that a computer will pass the "Turing Test" (where you could have a dialogue with a computer about deep and meaningful subjects and not be able to tell if it is a person or a computer) within 20 years, and exceed the computing power of all humans on earth by 2060. By 2100, he says, computers will be fully conscious, self-aware, and "spiritual" (whatever that means), etc. Check it out. Here is Raymo's description of Kurzweil:

"Kurzweil's credentials as computer guru are impeccable. He is inventor of the
first commercially marketed speech-recognition system, the first computer music keyboard capable of accurately reproducing the sounds of real orchestra instruments, the first system that can recognize all forms of alphabetic characters, the first system for text-to-synthesized-speech, and other key developments in making machines behave more like us."