This is a Tour de Force of the past, present and future. Kurzweil discussed the growth of the Universe from the Big Bang through from the first nanosecond through the first millenia up to the present, and then does the same with the evolution of life on Earth. He then goes on to the technological evolution of recent centuries, decades and years. He develops his "law of acccelerating returns," showing how scientific and technical knowledge builds on itself and is growing at a slightly greater-than-exponential pace, and that in just a few short decades a machine will be as smart (in every respect, not just playing chess) as a person, and shortly thereafter it will be smarter.
I also mention this book in my review of James Gleick's "Faster."