Ray Kurzweil is an engineer who has radically advanced the fields of speech, text, and audio technology. He's also one of our finest thinkers, revered for his dizzying -- yet convincing -- writing on the advance of technology, the limits of biology, and the future of the human species.
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 many electronic instruments.
Yet his impact as a futurist and philosopher is no less significant. In his best-selling books, which include The Age of Spiritual Machines and The Singularity Is Near: When Humans Transcend Biology (which is set to become a movie in 2008), 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."
“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.”
“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.”
“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.”— in 2005