Ray Kurzweil is an engineer who has radically advanced the fields of speech, text and audio technology. He's revered for his dizzying — yet convincing — writing on the advance of technology, the limits of biology and the future of the human species.

Why you should listen

Inventor, entrepreneur, visionary, Ray Kurzweil's accomplishments read as a startling series of firsts -- a litany of technological breakthroughs we've come to take for granted. Kurzweil invented the first optical character recognition (OCR) software for transforming the written word into data, the first print-to-speech software for the blind, the first text-to-speech synthesizer, and the first music synthesizer capable of recreating the grand piano and other orchestral instruments, and the first commercially marketed large-vocabulary speech recognition.

Yet his impact as a futurist and philosopher is no less significant. In his best-selling books, which include How to Create a Mind, The Age of Spiritual Machines, The Singularity Is Near: When Humans Transcend Biology, Kurzweil depicts in detail a portrait of the human condition over the next few decades, as accelerating technologies forever blur the line between human and machine.

In 2009, he unveiled Singularity University, an institution that aims to "assemble, educate and inspire leaders who strive to understand and facilitate the development of exponentially advancing technologies." He is a Director of Engineering at Google, where he heads up a team developing machine intelligence and natural language comprehension.

What others say

“Kurzweil's eclectic career and propensity for combining science with practical -- often humanitarian -- applications have inspired comparisons with Thomas Edison.” — Time

Ray Kurzweil on the TED Blog
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Live from TED2014

The hierarchy in your brain: Ray Kurzweil at TED2014

March 20, 2014

Ray Kurzweil returns to the TED stage to explain his new (kind of old) theory of the mind. He first wrote his theory as a paper 50 years ago, but today there’s a plethora of new evidence to support it. First, a refresher on the story of the neocortex, which means “new rind.” Two hundred […]

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Live from TED2014

Hacked: The speakers in session 8 of TED2014

March 20, 2014

What does a hacked future look like? What will our bodies — and minds — be capable as bioengineering becomes more and more ubiquitous? In Session 8 of TED2014, speakers take on the hacked world of tomorrow. Here are the speakers who appeared in this session. Click below to read a full recap of each […]

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A university for the coming singularity: Ray Kurzweil on TED.com

June 2, 2009

Ray Kurzweil‘s latest graphs show that technology’s breakneck advances will only accelerate — recession or not. He unveils his new project, Singularity University, to study oncoming tech and guide it to benefit humanity. (Recorded at TED University 2009, February 2009, in Long Beach, California. Duration: 8:42) Watch Ray Kurzweil’s talk from TED University 2009 on […]

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Quotes from Ray Kurzweil

If we could convert 0.03 percent of the sunlight that falls on the earth into energy, we could meet all of our projected needs for 2030.
Ray Kurzweil
TED2005 • 1.7M views Nov 2006
Informative, Fascinating
The software programs that make our body run … were evolved in very different times. We’d like to actually change those programs. One little software program, called the fat insulin receptor gene, basically says, ‘Hold onto every calorie, because the next hunting season may not work out so well.’ That was in the interests of the species tens of thousands of years ago. We’d like to turn that program off.
Ray Kurzweil
TED2005 • 1.7M views Nov 2006
Informative, Fascinating
By 2010 computers will disappear. They’ll be so small, they’ll be embedded in our clothing, in our environment. Images will be written directly to our retina, providing full-immersion virtual reality, augmented real reality. We’ll be interacting with virtual personalities.
Ray Kurzweil
TED2005 • 1.7M views Nov 2006
Informative, Fascinating