"The Singularity is Near" and I've got a paper on it.
March 27, 2009 11:44 AM   Subscribe

Did you read "The Singularity is Near" by Ray Kurzweil? And can you help me?

For one of my anthropology classes we have an end-of-term paper to do. It's basically a glorified book report tied in with an analytical explanation of how it relates to evolution, specifically of homo sapiens.

I plan on reading "The Singularity is Near" by Ray Kurzweil. However, the only problem is that the paper is due in just about three weeks and the book is almost 600 pages. While not impossible, it's not realistic to read that many pages whilst completing the rest of my coursework. The professor is cool with me not reading the whole thing, so...

I was wondering if anyone had read this book and could give me an idea of just a couple of chapters to read (maybe 250-350 pages) that would applicable to my assignment. The prompt is below. Thanks so much.


ANTH 250 Book Critique Assignment


Write a five-page essay on the narratives of human evolution in a book of your choice. You may address one or several of the following themes and/or any others you deem relevant. Be thoughtful, be creative! The questions listed below are presented as guidelines. Do not construct your essay as simply brief answers to the list of questions.

Questions to consider in your paper:

1.What does this movie tell you about the origins of:
Power differences?
Gender differences?
Social organization?

2. What does it say about the human life-cycle?

3. What does it say about race and human biological variation?

4. What does it say about the relationship between cultural/technological and
biological/evolutionary change?

5. What does it say about the relationship between the past and future?

6. What does it say about the origins of human language and thought?

7. What does it say about human nature, about what it means to be human?

Again, thanks so much. I appreciate the hive.
posted by jay.eye.elle.elle. to Education (4 answers total)

This post was deleted for the following reason: This is really pushing uncomfortably far into "do my homework" territory. -- cortex

IIRC, much of the book is taken up by large graphs of questionable quality, so reading it isn't as daunting as you might think.

Also see:
posted by chrisamiller at 11:52 AM on March 27, 2009 [1 favorite]

The Singularity is Near is an easy, easy read. But if you don't think you can make the time for it, and you have a choice of books, Kurzweil's earlier The Age of Spiritual Machines covers much of the same ground in a shorter space. (Also, based on the questions you're supposed to answer in your paper, it seems to me like it would be a more suitable book.)
posted by Prospero at 12:17 PM on March 27, 2009

See pages vii through xiv; it'll be pretty obvious which parts are most relevant to your assignment.

I'm only being a little bit snarky: the book's kind of a grab bag -- the parts you want are scattered around a lot of different chapters, but the table of contents provides a very handy summary of each section so it should be very simple to choose which parts to read and which to just skim.

(As chrisamiller points out, this is an eminently skimmable book.)
posted by ook at 12:18 PM on March 27, 2009

You can easily read 600 pages of Kurzweil in like 4 days at 2-2.5 hours a day, skim through he, the guy is quite verbose.
posted by zentrification at 12:31 PM on March 27, 2009

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