list | All Things Considered • the Bookshelf: the top 5 books

no. 2 | the Singularity Is Near • by Ray Kurzweil
November 1, 2019


— list —

broadcast: NPR
series: All Things Considered
column: the Bookshelf
story title: Mark Synnott’s top 5 books
author: by Peter Biello + Rachel Cohen
year: 2019


note: This story is collected for the Kurzweil Library.

list | Mark Synnott’s top 5 books

1. |
book title:
Adventures of Huckleberry Finn
author: by Mark Twain

2. |
book title: the Singularity Is Near
author: by Ray Kurzweil

It’s not often that a book profoundly changes your perspective on life, but I don’t think I’ve ever looked at the world — and my place in it in — the same way since I first read Ray Kurzweil’s masterpiece in year 2006. His central premise is that tech is evolving at an exponential rate — and that we’re currently sitting at the knee of this exponential curve.

He posits that the “singularity” — a future point in time when machines become smarter than people — will occur in the mid 2040s. I became so fascinated with Kurzweil’s ideas that I profiled him for the magazine Hemispheres by United Airlines. During the interview I asked him a question I don’t think he adequately answered in the book:

“If what you’re saying is true, how are we going to avoid the plot of Terminator?” Kurzweil told me that rather than allowing the tech to exist as its own entity — like Skynet in the film Terminator — we will embed it in ourselves, thus becoming cyborgs.

Mark Synnott

3. |
book title: the Shining Mountain
author: by Peter Boardman

4. |
book title: the Devil in the White City
author: by Erik Larson

5. |
book title: Alexander Hamilton
author: by Ron Chernow

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— notes —

NPR = National Public Radio