Cover image for The age of intelligent machines
The age of intelligent machines
Kurzweil, Ray.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
Cambridge, Mass. : MIT Press, [1990]

Physical Description:
xiii, 565 pages : illustrations (some color) ; 29 cm
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Central Library OVERSIZE Q335 .K87 1990 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area-Oversize

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What is artificial intelligence? At its essence, it is another way of answering a central question that has been debated by scientists, philosophers, and theologians for thousands of years: How does the human brain - three pounds of ordinary matter - give rise to thought? With this question in mind, inventor and visionary computer scientist Raymond Kurzweil probes the past, present, and future of artificial intelligence, from its earliest philosophical and mathematical roots through today's moving frontier, to tantalizing glimpses of 21st-century machines with superior intelligence and truly prodigious speed and memory. Lavishly illustrated and easily accessible to the nonspecialist, The Age of Intelligent Machines provides the background needed for a full understanding of the enormous scientific potential represented by intelligent machines and of their equally profound philosophic, economic, and social implications. It examines the history of efforts to understand human intelligence and to emulate it by building devices that seem to act with human capabilities. Running alongside Kurzweil's historical and scientific narrative, are 23 articles examining contemporary issues in artificial intelligence by such luminaries as Daniel Dennett, Sherry Turkle, Douglas Hofstadter, Marvin Minsky, Seymour Papert, Edward Feigenbaum, Allen Newell, and George Gilder. Raymond Kurzweil is the founder, chairman, and chief executive officer of Kurzweil Applied Intelligence, Kurzweil Music Systems, and the Kurzweil Reading Machines division of Xerox. He was the principal developer of the first print-to-speech reading machine for the blind and other significant advances in artificial intelligencetechnology.

Author Notes

Ray Kurzweil was born on February 12, 1948. He was the principal developer of the first CCD flat-bed scanner, the first omni-font optical character recognition, the first print-to-speech reading machine for the blind, the first text-to-speech synthesizer, the first music synthesizer capable of recreating the grand piano and other orchestral instruments, and the first commercially marketed large-vocabulary speech recognition. He has received numerous awards including the MIT-Lemelson Prize and the National Medal of Technology. In 2002, he was inducted into the National Inventor's Hall of Fame. He has written several books including The Age of Spiritual Machines, The Age of Intelligent Machines, The Singularity Is Near, and How to Create a Mind: The Secret of Human Thought Revealed.

(Bowker Author Biography)

Reviews 2

Booklist Review

Kurzweil essays the "second industrial revolution"--the coming of artificial intelligence (AI). As the first revolution expanded human physical capabilities, the second one--now in progress--extends, multiplies, and leverages mental abilities. Artificial intelligence is posing whole new sets of questions, epitomized by Kurzweil's statement that when--not if--a chess computer becomes world chess champion, "we will either think more of computers, less of ourselves, or less of chess." Kurzweil peppers his narrative with articles and conversations of other writers on the subject, including Douglas Hofstadter, Marvin Minsky, and George Gilder. Despite an occasional drift into fanciful projections of a future replete with such outgrowths of AI as "robotic imitators"--personal mechanical twins that people could send to friends or relatives to stand in for their own visits--this is a solid survey of current and future technologies that could well serve as a textbook on the subject. Extensive glossary and chrono~logy, bibliography; index. --Allen Weakland

Choice Review

Inventor and visionary computer scientist Kurzweil has produced a fascinating, yet understandable, book about the "second industrial revolution"--the age of intelligent machines that is now in progress. The book is divided into three parts: the roots of artifical intelligence, the moving frontier, and visions of the future. In the first, Kurzweil builds on the great landmarks of human intellect, weaving together the achievements of Plato, Euclid, Newton, Babbage, Einstein, Russell, Turing, von Neumann, and Wittgenstein. In the second, he describes the state-of-the-art in pattern recognition, in expert and knowledge-based systems, and in the application of computer technology to the arts. Finally, in the last part, he explores visions of the future of intelligent machines and their profound philosophical, economic, and social impacts. Running alongside Kurzweil's narrative are 23 articles by noted researchers in the field that examine contemporary issues in artificial intelligence. The book is lavishly illustrated and easily accessible to nonspecialists. A superb survey of artificial intelligence. -C. C. Tappert, IBM Watson Research Center

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