The Age of Spiritual Machines

When Computers Exceed Human Intelligence

By : Jim Pinto,
San Diego, CA.

This presentation was made at the Chaos in Manufacturing conference in Santa Fe, New Mexico, April 99.

Evolution is speeding up, and technology is a tool of evolution. As technology advances accelerate, it seems inevitable that - by almost any measure, computer intelligence will exceed that of humans within the next few decades. What is the path to that inevitability? What are the implications?

The discussion is based, in part, on the book :
Review Kurzweil Book The Age of Spiritual Machines by Ray Kurzweil

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  • Evolution speed-up is occurring as we enter the 21st. century.
  • Evolution moved from chemistry to biology - over billions of years.
  • Homo Sapiens emerged about half-million years ago - not very different from other advanced primates - DNA is 98.6% the same as the gorilla, and 97.8% the same as orangutans.
  • Evolution since that time focuses on a human-sponsored variant of evolution - Technology


  • Homo Sapiens was distinguished by their invention of technology. Technology goes beyond the making and use of tools - it involves a record of tool making and a progression in the sophistication - requires invention. It is itself a continuation of Evolution.
  • Technology, like Evolution that spawned it - is inherently an accelerating process.
  • Moore's Law - Exponential growth of computing dates back to the start of the twentieth century
  • Human Genome Project - International research program with the goal of gathering a resource of genome maps and DNA sequence information that will provide detailed information about the structure, organization and characteristics of the DNA of humans and other animals.
  • Is a human with mechanical implants a machine? Is a machine with human extensions a human?
  • “As Deep Blue goes deeper and deeper, it displays elements of strategic understanding. Somewhere out there, mere tactics are translating into strategy. This is the closest thing I’ve seen to computer intelligence. It’s a weird form of intelligence. But, you can feel it. You can smell it!”
    Frederick Friedel, assistant to Gary Kasparov, commenting on the computer that beat his boss.
  • Intelligence - The Recursive Formula
    Pruning the possibilities, stopping the recursive growth of the tree of possibilities.
  • Intelligence - Neural Nets
    Attempt to emulate the computing structure of neurons in the human brain:
    • Set of inputs that represent the problem to be solved
    • Inputs randomly wired to a layer of simulated neurons
    • Each connection has a strength (initially set at random)
  • Intelligence - Genetic Algorithms
    Solutions are not programmed - they emerge through an iterative process of simulated competition and improvement. Smart but slow - retains the discernment of Evolution - but useful if speeded up a million fold
  • Complexity Theory :
    The study of emergent behavior exhibited by interacting systems operating at the threshold of stability and chaos.
  • Artificial Life :
    A synthetic approach to studying Life-as-it-could-be and viewing Life-as-it-is within a larger context.
  • Computer Intelligence - extrapolated:
    • By 2020 - equal to the human brain
    • 2030 - Brain power of small village
    • 2050 - Entire population of US
    • 2060 - Trillion human brains by 2060
    • 2100 - one personal computer will have more capacity than all humans on earth….
  • Computing Substrates in the 21st Century:
    • Cubic, 3-D integrated circuits
    • Optical computing
    • Molecular Computing
    • Nanotechnology
    • Quantum Computers
  • The Spiritual Human
    Once neural implants are common, we’ll be able to stimulate a wide range of “feelings” There are already neurological triggers for such things as humor. Understanding the neurological correlation of “spiritual experiences” - translates to the computational processes that give rise to spiritual
  • The Spiritual Machine
    Machines derived from human thinking and surpassing humans in their capacity for experience will indeed claim to be spiritual. 21st century machines will go to real or virtual houses of worship, meditation, praying and transcending - to connect with their spiritual dimension.
  • "Humanity looks to me like a magnificent beginning - but not the final word." - Freeman Dyson

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