Imagine a world where the difference between man and machine blurs, where the line between humanity and technology fades, and where the soul and the silicon chip unite. This is not science fiction. This is the twenty-first century according to Ray Kurzweil, the “restless genius” (Wall Street Journal) and inventor of the most innovative and compelling technology of our era. In The Age of Spiritual Machines, the brains behind the Kurzweil Reading Machine, the Kurzweil synthesizer, advanced speech recognition, and other technologies devises a framework for envisioning the next century. In his inspired hands, life in the new millennium no longer seems daunting. Instead, Kurzweil’s twenty-first century promises to be an age in which the marriage of human sensitivity and artificial intelligence fundamentally alters and improves the way we live.

The Age of Spiritual Machines is no mere list of predictions but a prophetic blueprint for the future. Kurzweil guides us through the inexorable advances that will result in computers exceeding the memory capacity and computational ability of the human brain. According to Kurzweil, machines will achieve all this by 2020, with human attributes not far behind. We will begin to have relationships with automated personalities and use them as teachers, companions, and lovers. A mere ten years later, information will be fed straight into our brains along direct neural pathways; computers, for their part, will have read all the world’s literature. The distinction between us and computers will have become sufficiently blurred that when the machines claim to be conscious, we will believe them.

In The Age of Spiritual Machines, the “ultimate thinking machine” (Forbes) forges the ultimate road to the next century.