THE AGE of SPIRITUAL MACHINES | A Note to the Reader

August 8, 2001
Author:
Ray Kurzweil
Publisher:
Penguin Books (1999)

asmAs a photon wends its way through an arrangement of glass panes and mirrors, its path remains ambiguous. It essentially takes every possible path available to it (apparently these photons have not read Robert Frost’s poem “The Road Not Taken”). This ambiguity remains until observation by a conscious observer forces the particle to decide which path it had taken. Then the uncertainty is resolved–retroactively–and it is as if the selected path had been taken all along.

Like these quantum particles, you–the reader–have choices to make in your path through this book. You can read the chapters as I intended them to be read, in sequential order. Or, after reading the Prologue, you may decide that the future can’t wait, and you wish to immediately jump to the chapters in Part III on the twenty-first century (the table of contents on the next pages offers a description of each chapter). You may then make your way back to the earlier chapters that describe the nature and origin of the trends and forces that will manifest themselves in this coming century. Or, perhaps, your course will remain ambiguous until the end. But when you come to the Epilogue, any remaining ambiguity will be resolved, and it will be as if you had always intended to read the book in the order that you selected.