The Age Of Spiritual Machines is a book by futurist Ray Kurzweil about the future course of humanity, particularly relating to the development of artificial intelligence and its impact on human consciousness. It is also a study on the concept of technological singularity.
Originally published in 1999, the book predicts that machines with human-like intelligence will be available from affordable computing devices within a couple of decades, revolutionising most aspects of life, and that eventually humanity and its machinery will become one and the same.
In order to help the reader understand the concepts portrayed in the book (and for the book to make its predictions pseudo-realistic), the author has conversations with Molly, a typical human being. At the start of the book, Molly is a 23-year-old woman who has little understanding of the concepts that are discussed in the book, yet has an enigmatic (sometimes romantic) interest in the author, which keeps her interested. By the time the book reaches Part III, Facing the Future, Molly has somewhat of a grasp on all these concepts. It is during Part III that she physiologically and technologically evolves (as predicted by the author) as the years go by, to the point that by the year 2099 (the farthest point in the author's scope), she has shed all biological matter and has become a dynamic, conscious sub-entity within a larger, singular entity, all within a machine (a Spiritual Machine, as it were). "Molly" has become so dynamic, in fact, that she is (in her words) ready to do anything, or be anything, you want or need.
- Alex Proyas, the director of the film I, Robot, asked every cast member to read this book before filming.
- In early 2000, Mike Turner, founding member and guitarist of the Canada|Canadian band Our Lady Peace, stumbled upon the book at a bookstore, and though initially attracted by the shininess of the book, he purchased the book intrigued by the concepts that it contained. He was so inspired by the book's information that, with the rest of the band, he created the concept album Spiritual Machines. They recruited Ray Kurzweil to voice several tracks, on which he read select passages from the book.