- Epoch 1. Physics and Chemistry
This epoch starts at the beginning of the universe (for example, the Big Bang). In this epoch, information is mostly held in subatomic structures such as particles and atoms. That is, the most complicated stable objects in the universe do not exceed the molecular scale in size or complexity.
- Epoch 2. Biology and DNA
This epoch starts with the beginning of life on Earth (or elsewhere), suddenly giving rise to more complicated, yet stable, organisms that are capable of growth and self-sustainment. However, in this epoch organisms do not change within their lifetimes as evolution takes thousands of generations. Moreoever, in this stage, genetic information is stored in DNA molecules.
- Epoch 3. Brains
The evolution of life gradually produced more and more complex organisms, necessitating the need for fast central control and thus giving rise to the evolution of brains. With brains, organisms can now change their behavior dynamically to suit changes in the environment and can also learn from past experiences. Evolutionary information is, in this stage, stored in neural patterns, with the meme emerging as the primary information unit.
- Epoch 4. Technology
Evolution of brains culminates with the evolution of humans, which possess the ability to create technology. In this stage, technological designs are also subject to evolution and information is held in hardware and software designs.
- Epoch 5. The Merger of Human Technology with Human Intelligence
This epoch, which Kurzweil argues we are in the process of entering, is where technology reaches a level of sophistication and fine-structuring comparable with that of biology, allowing the two to merge to create higher forms of life and intelligence.
- Epoch 6. The Universe Wakes Up
After mastering the methods of technology and biology, Kurzweil predicts that human/machine civilization will expand its frontiers into the universe, gradually (or perhaps explosively) consuming the contents of the cosmos until the universe reaches a 'saturated' state where all inanimate matter has been converted to substrates for computation and intelligence, and a truly universal super-intelligence takes form.
For more on the Singularity is Near go to: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Singularity_Is_Near