Episode #10 of the course “Significant futurists and their ideas”
Ray Kurzweil is a 20th and 21st century American inventor, writer, and computer scientist. Currently head of engineering at Google, he has overseen computer and artificial intelligence design and development for some of the largest firms. A lover of science fiction since he was a child, Kurzweil received Bachelor’s degrees from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in computer science and literature. Before completing his degree he had designed one of the first educational computer programs, and shortly after graduation he released prototypes for the inventions of a text-to-speech computer program and a flatbed scanner. He combined these practical technologies to create a machine that could scan documents and read them to blind people.
Kurzweil founded multiple businesses that all seek to bring together technological advancements and needs; his computer science engineering has expanded educational, musical, and automotive technologies. In 2015, he was awarded a technical Grammy for his development of sound production equipment. Kurzweil now puts his knowledge to use for Google, directing the development of people’s relationships with technology. Kurzweil has theorized that a person’s mind is made up of patterns that can be analyzed, translated into programmable code, and stored in a computer. Essentially, he believes that people may be able to one day “upload” their consciousness into a cloud-based computing system.
Of his seven books, five have been best-sellers. Kurzweil’s works include The Age of Intelligent Machines, The Age of Spiritual Machines, and The Singularity is Near. Many of the predictions that Kurzweil made about the internet and nanotechnology have proven true. His books have been made into movies, and the documentary Transcendent Man is based on Kurzweil’s life and writings. Highly popular, Kurzweil enjoys millions of fans around the world who follow his social media posts, watch his TED Talks and online videos, and attend his lectures or seminars.
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