Ray Kurzweil

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Ray Kurzweil
Raymond Kurzweil Fantastic Voyage.jpg
Born(1948-02-12) February 12, 1948 (age 65)
Queens, New York, U.S.
Alma materMassachusetts Institute of Technology (B.S.)
OccupationAuthor, entrepreneur, futurist and inventor
EmployerGoogle Inc. (Director of Engineering)
Spouse(s)Sonya Rosenwald Fenster (1975–present)[1]
ChildrenEthan, Amy
AwardsGrace Murray Hopper Award (1978)
National Medal of Technology (1999)
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Ray Kurzweil
Raymond Kurzweil Fantastic Voyage.jpg
Born(1948-02-12) February 12, 1948 (age 65)
Queens, New York, U.S.
Alma materMassachusetts Institute of Technology (B.S.)
OccupationAuthor, entrepreneur, futurist and inventor
EmployerGoogle Inc. (Director of Engineering)
Spouse(s)Sonya Rosenwald Fenster (1975–present)[1]
ChildrenEthan, Amy
AwardsGrace Murray Hopper Award (1978)
National Medal of Technology (1999)

Raymond "Ray" Kurzweil (/ˈkɜrzwl/ KURZ-wyl; born February 12, 1948) is an American author, inventor, futurist, and a director of engineering at Google. Aside from futurology, he is involved in fields such as optical character recognition (OCR), text-to-speech synthesis, speech recognition technology, and electronic keyboard instruments. He has written books on health, artificial intelligence (AI), transhumanism, the technological singularity, and futurism. Kurzweil is a public advocate for the futurist and transhumanist movements, as has been displayed in his vast collection of public talks, wherein he has shared his primarily optimistic outlooks on life extension technologies and the future of nanotechnology, robotics, and biotechnology.

Kurzweil was the principal inventor of the first CCD flatbed scanner,[2] the first omni-font optical character recognition,[2] the first print-to-speech reading machine for the blind,[3] the first commercial text-to-speech synthesizer,[4] the first music synthesizer capable of recreating the grand piano and other orchestral instruments,[citation needed] and the first commercially marketed large-vocabulary speech recognition.[5]

Kurzweil received the 1999 National Medal of Technology and Innovation, America's highest honor in technology, from President Clinton in a White House ceremony. He was the recipient of the $500,000 Lemelson-MIT Prize for 2001,[6] the world's largest for innovation. And in 2002 he was inducted into the National Inventors Hall of Fame, established by the U.S. Patent Office. He has received nineteen honorary doctorates, and honors from three U.S. presidents. Kurzweil has been described as a "restless genius"[7] by The Wall Street Journal and "the ultimate thinking machine"[8] by Forbes. PBS included Kurzweil as one of 16 "revolutionaries who made America"[9] along with other inventors of the past two centuries. Inc. magazine ranked him #8 among the "most fascinating" entrepreneurs in the United States and called him "Edison's rightful heir".[10]

Kurzweil has authored seven books, five of which have been national bestsellers. The Age of Spiritual Machines has been translated into 9 languages and was the #1 best-selling book on Amazon in science. Kurzweil's book The Singularity Is Near was a New York Times bestseller, and has been the #1 book on Amazon in both science and philosophy. His latest bestseller is How to Create a Mind: The Secret of Human Thought Revealed.[11] Kurzweil speaks widely to audiences public and private and regularly delivers keynote speeches at industry conferences like DEMO, SXSW and TED. His website catalogs his public speaking, publications and media appearances.[12] He has his own website, called KurzweilAI, which has over two million readers annually.


Life, inventions, and business career[edit]

Early life[edit]

Ray Kurzweil grew up in the New York City borough of Queens. He was born to secular Jewish parents who had escaped Austria just before the onset of World War II, and he was exposed via Unitarian Universalism to a diversity of religious faiths during his upbringing. On Kurzweil's religious views, he is an atheist.[13] His father was a musician and composer and his mother was a visual artist. His uncle, an engineer at Bell Labs, taught young Kurzweil the basics of computer science.[14] In his youth, he was an avid reader of science fiction literature. In 1963, at age fifteen, he wrote his first computer program.[15] Later in high school he created a pattern-recognition software program that analyzed the works of classical composers, and then synthesized its own songs in similar styles. In 1965, he was invited to appear on the CBS television program I've Got a Secret, where he performed a piano piece that was composed by a computer he also had built.[16] Later that year, he won first prize in the International Science Fair for the invention;[17] he was also recognized by the Westinghouse Talent Search and was personally congratulated by President Lyndon B. Johnson during a White House ceremony.


In 1968, during his sophomore year at MIT, Kurzweil started a company that used a computer program to match high school students with colleges. The program, called the Select College Consulting Program, was designed by him and compared thousands of different criteria about each college with questionnaire answers submitted by each student applicant. Around this time, he sold the company to Harcourt, Brace & World for $100,000 (roughly $500,000 in 2006 dollars) plus royalties.[18] He obtained a B.S. in computer science and literature in 1970 at the MIT.

In 1974, Kurzweil founded Kurzweil Computer Products, Inc. and led development of the first omni-font optical character recognition system, a computer program capable of recognizing text written in any normal font. Before that time, scanners had only been able to read text written in a few fonts. He decided that the best application of this technology would be to create a reading machine, which would allow blind people to understand written text by having a computer read it to them aloud. However, this device required the invention of two enabling technologies—the CCD flatbed scanner and the text-to-speech synthesizer. Development of these technologies was completed at other institutions such as Bell Labs, and on January 13, 1976, the finished product was unveiled during a news conference headed by him and the leaders of the National Federation of the Blind. Called the Kurzweil Reading Machine, the device covered an entire tabletop. It gained him mainstream recognition: on the day of the machine's unveiling, Walter Cronkite used the machine to give his signature soundoff, "And that's the way it is, January 13, 1976." While listening to The Today Show, musician Stevie Wonder heard a demonstration of the device and purchased the first production version of the Kurzweil Reading Machine, beginning a lifelong friendship with Kurzweil.

Kurzweil's next major business venture began in 1978, when Kurzweil Computer Products began selling a commercial version of the optical character recognition computer program. LexisNexis was one of the first customers, and bought the program to upload paper legal and news documents onto its nascent online databases.

Kurzweil sold his company to Lernout & Hauspie. Following the bankruptcy of the latter, the system became a subsidiary of Xerox formerly known as Scansoft and now as Nuance Communications, and he functioned as a consultant for the former until 1995.

Kurzweil's next business venture was in the realm of electronic music technology. After a 1982 meeting with Stevie Wonder, in which the latter lamented the divide in capabilities and qualities between electronic synthesizers and traditional musical instruments, Kurzweil was inspired to create a new generation of music synthesizers capable of accurately duplicating the sounds of real instruments. Kurzweil Music Systems was founded in the same year, and in 1984, the Kurzweil K250 was unveiled. The machine was capable of imitating a number of instruments, and in tests musicians were unable to discern the difference between the Kurzweil K250 on piano mode from a normal grand piano.[19] The recording and mixing abilities of the machine, coupled with its abilities to imitate different instruments made it possible for a single user to compose and play an entire orchestral piece.

Kurzweil Music Systems was sold to Korean musical instrument manufacturer Young Chang in 1990. As with Xerox, Kurzweil remained as a consultant for several years. Hyundai acquired Young Chang in 2006 and in January 2007 appointed Raymond Kurzweil as Chief Strategy Officer of Kurzweil Music Systems.[20]

Later life[edit]

Concurrent with Kurzweil Music Systems, Kurzweil created the company Kurzweil Applied Intelligence (KAI) to develop computer speech recognition systems for commercial use. The first product, which debuted in 1987, was an early speech recognition program.

Kurzweil started Kurzweil Educational Systems in 1996 to develop new pattern-recognition-based computer technologies to help people with disabilities such as blindness, dyslexia and ADD in school. Products include the Kurzweil 1000 text-to-speech converter software program, which enables a computer to read electronic and scanned text aloud to blind or visually impaired users, and the Kurzweil 3000 program, which is a multifaceted electronic learning system that helps with reading, writing, and study skills.

Raymond Kurzweil at the Singularity Summit at Stanford in 2006

During the 1990s Kurzweil founded the Medical Learning Company.[21] The company's products included an interactive computer education program for doctors and a computer-simulated patient. Around the same time, Kurzweil started KurzweilCyberArt.com—a website featuring computer programs to assist the creative art process. The site used to offer free downloads of a program called AARON—a visual art synthesizer developed by Harold Cohen—and of "Kurzweil's Cybernetic Poet", which automatically creates poetry. During this period he also started KurzweilAI.net, a website devoted towards showcasing news of scientific developments, publicizing the ideas of high-tech thinkers and critics alike, and promoting futurist-related discussion among the general population through the Mind-X forum.

In 1999, Kurzweil created a hedge fund called "FatKat" (Financial Accelerating Transactions from Kurzweil Adaptive Technologies), which began trading in 2006. He has stated that the ultimate aim is to improve the performance of FatKat's A.I. investment software program, enhancing its ability to recognize patterns in "currency fluctuations and stock-ownership trends."[22] He predicted in his 1999 book, The Age of Spiritual Machines, that computers will one day prove superior to the best human financial minds at making profitable investment decisions. In 2001, Canadian rock band Our Lady Peace released an album, titled Spiritual Machines, based on Kurzweil's book. Kurzweil's voice was featured in the album, reading excerpts from his book.

In June 2005, Kurzweil introduced the "Kurzweil-National Federation of the Blind Reader" (K-NFB Reader)—a pocket-sized device consisting of a digital camera and computer unit. Like the Kurzweil Reading Machine of almost 30 years before, the K-NFB Reader is designed to aid blind people by reading written text aloud. The newer machine is portable and scans text through digital camera images, while the older machine is large and scans text through flatbed scanning.

Kurzweil made a movie called The Singularity Is Near: A True Story About the Future[23] in 2010 based, in part, on his 2005 book The Singularity Is Near. Part fiction, part non-fiction, he interviews 20 big thinkers like Marvin Minsky, plus there is a B-line narrative story that illustrates some of the ideas, where a computer avatar (Ramona) saves the world from self-replicating microscopic robots. In addition to his movie, an independent, feature-length documentary was made about Kurzweil, his life, and his ideas called Transcendent Man. Filmmakers Barry Ptolemy and Felicia Ptolemy followed Kurzweil, documenting his global speaking-tour. Premiered in 2009 at the Tribeca Film Festival,[23] Transcendent Man documents Kurzweil's quest to reveal mankind's ultimate destiny and explores many of the ideas found in his New York Times bestselling book, The Singularity Is Near, including his concept exponential growth, radical life expansion, and how we will transcend our biology. The Ptolemys documented Kurzweil's stated goal of bringing back his late father using AI. The film also features critics who argue against Kurzweil's predictions.

In 2010, an independent documentary film called Plug & Pray premiered at the Seattle International Film Festival, in which Kurzweil and one of his major critics, the late Joseph Weizenbaum, argue about the benefits of eternal life.[24]

Kurzweil frequently comments on the application of cell-size nanotechnology to the workings of the human brain and how this could be applied to building AI. While being interviewed for a February 2009 issue of Rolling Stone magazine, Kurzweil expressed a desire to construct a genetic copy of his late father, Fredric Kurzweil, from DNA within his grave site. This feat would be achieved by exhumation and extraction of DNA, constructing a clone of Fredric and retrieving memories and recollections—from Ray's mind—of his father.[25]

In December 2012 Kurzweil was hired by Google in a full-time position to "work on new projects involving machine learning and language processing".[26] Google co-founder Larry Page and Kurzweil agreed on a one-sentence job description: "to bring natural language understanding to Google".[27]

Kurzweil is married with two children. His wife, Sonya Rosenwald Fenster, whom he married in 1975, is a child psychologist, while his son works as a venture capitalist and his daughter a choreographer.[28]


Kurzweil's first book, The Age of Intelligent Machines, was published in 1990. The nonfiction work discusses the history of computer AI and also makes forecasts regarding future developments. Other experts in the field of AI contribute heavily to the work in the form of essays. The Association of American Publishers' awarded it the status of Most Outstanding Computer Science Book of 1990.[29]

Next, Kurzweil published a book on nutrition in 1993 called The 10% Solution for a Healthy Life. The book's main idea is that high levels of fat intake are the cause of many health disorders common in the U.S., and thus that cutting fat consumption down to 10% of the total calories consumed would be optimal for most people.

In 1999, Kurzweil published The Age of Spiritual Machines, which focuses heavily on further elucidating his theories regarding the future of technology, which themselves stem from his analysis of long-term trends in biological and technological evolution. Much focus goes into examining the likely course of AI development, along with the future of computer architecture.

Kurzweil's next book published in 2004, returned to the subject of human health and nutrition. Fantastic Voyage: Live Long Enough to Live Forever was co-authored by Kurzweil and Terry Grossman, a medical doctor and specialist in alternative medicine. The Singularity Is Near was published in 2005. The book was made into a movie starring Pauley Perrette (NCIS).[30] In February 2007, Ptolemaic Productions acquired the rights to The Singularity is Near, The Age of Spiritual Machines and Fantastic Voyage including the rights to Kurzweil's life and ideas for the film Transcendent Man. The feature length documentary was directed by Barry Ptolemy.

Transcend: Nine Steps to Living Well Forever,[31] a follow-up to Fantastic Voyage, was released on April 28, 2009.

Kurzweil's latest book, How to Create a Mind: The Secret of Human Thought Revealed, was released on November 13, 2012.[32] In it Kurzweil describes his Pattern Recognition Theory of Mind, the theory that the neocortex is a hierarchical system of pattern recognizers, and details how duplicating this architecture in machines could lead to an artificial superintelligence.[33]

He is also writing a novel called Danielle, about his imaginary superheroine daughter who solves problems through intelligence.[34]


Encouraging Futurism and Transhumanism[edit]

Kurzweil's standing as a futurist and transhumanist has led to his involvement in several Singularity-themed organizations. In December 2004, Kurzweil joined the advisory board of the Singularity Institute for Artificial Intelligence.[35] In October 2005, Kurzweil joined the scientific advisory board of the Lifeboat Foundation.[36] On May 13, 2006, Kurzweil was the first speaker at the Singularity Summit at Stanford.[37] In May 2013, Kurzweil was the keynote speaker at the 2013 proceeding of the Research, Innovation, Start-up and Employment (RISE) international conference in Seoul, Korea Republic.[38]

In February 2009, Kurzweil, in collaboration with Google and the NASA Ames Research Center, announced the creation of the Singularity University training center for corporate executives and government officials. The University's self-described mission is to "assemble, educate and inspire a cadre of leaders who strive to understand and facilitate the development of exponentially advancing technologies and apply, focus and guide these tools to address humanity's grand challenges".[39] Using Vernor Vinge's Singularity concept as a foundation, the University offered its first nine-week graduate program to forty students in June, 2009.

Stance on the Future of Genetics, Nanotechnology, and Robotics[edit]

Kurzweil is working with the Army Science Advisory Board to develop a rapid response system to deal with the possible abuse of biotechnology. He suggests that the same technologies that are empowering us to reprogram biology away from cancer and heart disease could be used by a bioterrorist to reprogram a biological virus to be more deadly, communicable, and stealthy. Fortunately, he believes that we have the scientific tools to successfully defend against these attacks, similar to the way we defend against computer software viruses. He has testified before Congress on the subject of nanotechnology, advocating that nanotechnology has the potential to solve serious global problems such as poverty, disease, and climate change, viz. "Nanotech Could Give Global Warming a Big Chill".[40] In media appearances, Kurzweil has stressed the extreme potential dangers of nanotechnology[16] but argues that in practice, progress cannot be stopped because that would require a totalitarian system, and any attempt to do so would drive dangerous technologies underground and deprive responsible scientists of the tools needed for defense. He suggests that the proper place of regulation is to ensure that technological progress proceeds safely and quickly, but does not deprive the world of profound benefits. He stated, "To avoid dangers such as unrestrained nanobot replication, we need relinquishment at the right level and to place our highest priority on the continuing advance of defensive technologies, staying ahead of destructive technologies. An overall strategy should include a streamlined regulatory process, a global program of monitoring for unknown or evolving biological pathogens, temporary moratoriums, raising public awareness, international cooperation, software reconnaissance, and fostering values of liberty, tolerance, and respect for knowledge and diversity." [41]

The Law of Accelerating Returns[edit]

In his 1999 book The Age of Spiritual Machines Kurzweil proposed "The Law of Accelerating Returns", according to which the rate of change in a wide variety of evolutionary systems (including the growth of technologies) tends to increase exponentially.[42] He gave further focus to this issue in a 2001 essay entitled "The Law of Accelerating Returns", which proposed an extension of Moore's law to a wide variety of technologies, and used this to argue in favor of Vernor Vinge's concept of a technological singularity.[43] Kurzweil suggests that this exponential technological growth is counter-intuitive to the way our brains perceive the world- since our brains were biologically inherited from humans living in a world that was linear and local- and, as a consequence, he believes it has encouraged great skepticism in his future projections.

Health and aging[edit]

Kurzweil admits that he cared little for his health until age 35, when he was found to suffer from a glucose intolerance, an early form of type II diabetes (a major risk factor for heart disease). Kurzweil then found a doctor (Terry Grossman, M.D.) who shares his non-conventional beliefs to develop an extreme regimen involving hundreds of pills, chemical intravenous treatments, red wine and various other methods to attempt to live longer. Kurzweil was ingesting "250 supplements, eight to 10 glasses of alkaline water and 10 cups of green tea" every day and drinking several glasses of red wine a week in an effort to "reprogram" his biochemistry.[44] Lately, he has cut down the number of supplement pills to 150.[45]

Kurzweil joined the Alcor Life Extension Foundation, a cryonics company. In the event of his declared death, Kurzweil will be perfused with cryoprotectants, vitrified in liquid nitrogen, and stored at an Alcor facility in the hope that future medical technology will be able to repair his tissues and revive him.[46]

He has authored three books on the subjects of nutrition, health and immortality: The 10% Solution for a Healthy Life, Fantastic Voyage: Live Long Enough to Live Forever and Transcend: Nine Steps to Living Well Forever.[47] In all, he recommends that other people emulate his health practices to the best of their abilities. Kurzweil and his current "anti-aging" doctor, Terry Grossman, MD., now have two websites promoting their first[48] and second book.[49]

He has stated that he believes that in the future, everyone will live forever.[50] In a 2013 interview, Kurzweil said that in 15 years, medical technology could add more than a year to one's remaining life expectancy for each year that passes, and we could then "outrun our own deaths". He has been an extreme advocate of SENS Research Foundation for the successful defeating of aging, and has encouraged acts of donation to hasten their rejuvenation research and goal[27][51]

Kurzweil's view of the human neocortex[edit]

According to Kurzweil, technologists will be creating synthetic neocortexes based on the operating principles of the human neocortex with the primary purpose of extending our own neocortexes. He believes that the neocortex of an adult human consists of approximately 300 million pattern recognizers. He asserts that the primary anatomical difference between humans and other primates that allowed for superior intellectual abilities was the evolution of the humans' larger neocortex, as made possible by the formation of our bigger foreheads. He suggests that the neocortex has a hierarchy that allows for increasing abstraction from one vertical cortical column to the next, such that the vertical columns build off the levels below it. He says that at the low levels, the neocortex may seem cold and mechanical because it can only make simple decisions, but at the higher levels of the hierarchy, the neocortex is likely to be dealing with concepts like being funny, being sexy, expressing a loving sentiment, creating a poem or understanding a poem, etc. He believes that these higher levels of the human neocortex were the enabling factors to permit the human development of language, technology, art, and science. He stated, "If the quantitative improvement from primates to humans with the big forehead was the enabling factor to allow for language, technology, art, and science, what kind of qualitative leap can we make with another quantitative increase? Why not go from 300 million pattern recognizers to a billion?”[52]


Past predictions[edit]

Kurzweil's first book, The Age of Intelligent Machines, presented his ideas about the future. It was written from 1986 to 1989 and published in 1990. Building on Ithiel de Sola Pool's "Technologies of Freedom" (1983), Kurzweil claims to have forecast the demise of the Soviet Union due to new technologies such as cellular phones and fax machines disempowering authoritarian governments by removing state control over the flow of information.[53] In the book Kurzweil also extrapolated preexisting trends in the improvement of computer chess software performance to predict that computers would beat the best human players "by the year 2000".[54] In May 1997 chess World Champion Garry Kasparov was defeated by IBM's Deep Blue computer in a well-publicized chess tournament.[55]

Perhaps most significantly, Kurzweil foresaw the explosive growth in worldwide Internet use that began in the 1990s. At the time of the publication of The Age of Intelligent Machines, there were only 2.6 million Internet users in the world,[56] and the medium was unreliable, difficult to use, and deficient in content. He also stated that the Internet would explode not only in the number of users but in content as well, eventually granting users access "to international networks of libraries, data bases, and information services". Additionally, Kurzweil claims to have correctly foreseen that the preferred mode of Internet access would inevitably be through wireless systems, and he was also correct to estimate that the latter would become practical for widespread use in the early 21st century.

Kurzweil also claims to have accurately forecast that, by the end of the 1990s, many documents would exist solely in computers and on the Internet, and that they would commonly be embedded with sounds, animations, and videos that would inhibit their transfer to paper format. Moreover, he claims to have foreseen that cellular phones would grow in popularity while shrinking in size for the foreseeable future.

Future predictions[edit]

In 1999, Kurzweil published a second book titled The Age of Spiritual Machines, which goes into more depth explaining his futurist ideas. The third and final part of the book is devoted to predictions over the coming century, from 2009 through 2099. While in The Singularity Is Near he makes fewer concrete short-term predictions, but includes many longer-term visions. He believes that with radical life extension will come radical life enhancement. He is confident that within 10 years we will have the option to spend some of our time in 3D virtual environments that appear just as real as real reality, but these will not yet be made possible via direct interaction with our nervous system. He believes that 20 to 25 years from now, we will have millions of blood-cell sized devices, known as nanobots, inside our bodies fighting against diseases, improving our memory, and cognitive abilities. He also believes that a machine will pass the turing test by 2029, and that around 2045 "the pace of change will be so astonishingly quick that we wont be able to keep up, unless we enhance our own intelligence by merging with the intelligent machines we are creating".

In 2008, Kurzweil said in an expert panel in the National Academy of Engineering that solar power will scale up to produce all the energy needs of Earth's people in 20 years. According to Kurzweil, we only need to capture 1 part in 10,000 of the energy from the Sun that hits Earth's surface, in order to meet all of humanity's energy needs.[57]


Recognition and awards[edit]

Kurzweil was referred to by Forbes as "the ultimate thinking machine."[8]

Kurzweil has received many awards and honors, including:


Kurzweil's ideas have generated criticism within the scientific community and in the media.

Although the idea of a technological singularity is a popular concept in science fiction, some authors such as Neal Stephenson[74] and Bruce Sterling have voiced skepticism about its real-world plausibility. Sterling expressed his views on the singularity scenario in a talk at the Long Now Foundation entitled The Singularity: Your Future as a Black Hole.[75][76] Other prominent AI thinkers and computer scientists such as Daniel Dennett,[77] Rodney Brooks,[78] David Gelernter[79] and Paul Allen[80] also criticized Kurzweil's projections.

Daniel Lyons, writing in Newsweek, criticized Kurzweil for some of his predictions that turned out to be wrong, such as the economy continuing to boom from the 1998 dot-com through 2009, a US company having a market capitalization of more than $1 trillion, a supercomputer achieving 20 petaflops, speech recognition being in widespread use and cars that would drive themselves using sensors installed in highways; all by 2009.[81] To the charge that a 20 petaflop supercomputer was not produced in the time he predicted, Kurzweil responded that he considers Google a giant supercomputer, and that it is indeed capable of 20 petaflops.[81]

In the cover article of the December 2010 issue of IEEE Spectrum, John Rennie criticizes Kurzweil for several predictions that failed to become manifest by the originally predicted date. "Therein lie the frustrations of Kurzweil's brand of tech punditry. On close examination, his clearest and most successful predictions often lack originality or profundity. And most of his predictions come with so many loopholes that they border on the unfalsifiable."[82]

Bill Joy, cofounder of Sun Microsystems, agrees with Kurzweil's timeline of future progress, but thinks that technologies such as AI, nanotechnology and advanced biotechnology will create a dystopian world.[83] Mitch Kapor, the founder of Lotus Development Corporation, has called the notion of a technological singularity "intelligent design for the IQ 140 people...This proposition that we're heading to this point at which everything is going to be just unimaginably different—it's fundamentally, in my view, driven by a religious impulse. And all of the frantic arm-waving can't obscure that fact for me."[84]

Some critics have argued more strongly against Kurzweil and his ideas. Cognitive scientist Douglas Hofstadter has said of Kurzweil's and Hans Moravec's books: "It's an intimate mixture of rubbish and good ideas, and it's very hard to disentangle the two, because these are smart people; they're not stupid."[85] Biologist P. Z. Myers has criticized Kurzweil's predictions as being based on "New Age spiritualism" rather than science and says that Kurzweil does not understand basic biology.[86][87] VR pioneer Jaron Lanier has even described Kurzweil's ideas as "cybernetic totalism" and has outlined his views on the culture surrounding Kurzweil's predictions in an essay for Edge.org entitled One Half of a Manifesto.[88]

In a critical review of Kurzweil's book How to Create a Mind: The Secret of Human Thought Revealed, philosopher Colin McGinn refers to "the hype so blatantly brandished in its title" and asks: "He is clearly a man of many parts—but is ultimate theoretician of the mind one of them?" McGinn calls Kurzweil's claim that pattern recognition is the key to mental phenomena "obviously false" and concludes that the book is "interesting in places, fairly readable, moderately informative, but wildly overstated".[89]

John Gray, the British philosopher, argues that contemporary science is what magic was for ancient civilizations. It gives a sense of hope for those who are willing to do almost anything in order to achieve eternal life. He quotes Kurzweil's Singularity as another example of a trend which has almost always been present in the history of mankind.[90]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Rozen, Leah (1987-03-09). Talk May Be Cheap, but Ray Kurzweil Stands to Make Millions by Yakking to His Voice Computer. Retrieved 2013-02-14. 
  2. ^ a b "Inventor Profile Ray Kurzweil". Invent Now, Inc. Retrieved 9 February 2013. 
  3. ^ Ikenson, Ben (2004). Patents: Ingenious Inventions, How they work and How they came to be. Black Dog & Leventhal. pp. 139–140. ISBN 978-1579123673. "Invented in 1976, the Kurzweil Reading Machine is the world's first computer to transform text into computer-spoken word."
  4. ^ Klatt, D. (1987) "Review of Text-to-Speech Conversion for English" Journal of the Acoustical Society of America 82(3):737-93
  5. ^ http://www.kurzweilai.net/ray-kurzweil-bio
  6. ^ "Raymond Kurzweil 2001 Lemelson-MIT Prize Winner". MIT. Retrieved 10 February 2013. 
  7. ^ Bulkeley, William (1989-06-23). "Kurzweil Applied Intelligence, Inc.". The Wall Street Journal. p. A3A. "Among the leaders is Kurzweil, a closely held company run by Raymond Kurzweil, a restless 41-year-old genius who developed both optical character recognition and speech synthesis to make a machine that reads aloud to the blind."
  8. ^ a b Pfeiffer, Eric (1998-04-06) "Start Up". Forbes. Retrieved on 2013-01-25.
  9. ^ "Who Made America?". PBS. Retrieved 9 February 2013. 
  10. ^ "26 Most Fascinating Entrepreneurs". Inc. Retrieved 9 February 2013. 
  11. ^ Kurzweil, Ray (2012). How to Create a Mind: The Secret of Human Thought Revealed. ISBN 0670025291. 
  12. ^ "Public Speaking General Information". Retrieved 10 February 2013. 
  13. ^ Kevin Kelly (2010). What Technology Wants. Penguin. ISBN 9781101444467. "In his mythic book The Singularity Is Near, Ray Kurzweil, serial inventor, technology enthusiast, and unabashed atheist, announces: "Evolution moves toward greater complexity, greater elegance, greater knowledge, greater intelligence, greater beauty, greater creativity, and greater levels of subtle attributes such as love."" 
  14. ^ "Inventor of the Week". Web.mit.edu. Retrieved 2011-04-21. 
  15. ^ "KurzweilAI.net". KurzweilAI.net. Retrieved 2011-04-21. 
  16. ^ a b In Depth: Ray Kurzweil. Book TV. 2006-11-05. Retrieved 2010-05-18. 
  17. ^ a b "Alumni Honors". Society for Science and the Public. Retrieved 2010-05-18. 
  18. ^ "Biography of Ray Kurzweil". Kurzweiltech.com. 1976-01-13. Retrieved 2011-03-27. 
  19. ^ Donald Byrd and Christopher Yavelow (1986). "The Kurzweil 250 Digital Synthesizer". Computer Music Journal 10 (1): 64. doi:10.2307/3680298. JSTOR 3680298. 
  20. ^ "Hyundai names Kurzweil Chief Strategy Officer of Kurzweil Music Systems". Kurzweilai.net. 2007-02-01. Retrieved 2012-04-27. 
  21. ^ List of Private Companies Worldwide, BusinessWeek. Investing.businessweek.com. Retrieved on 2011-06-16.
  22. ^ O'Keefe, Brian (May 2, 2007). "The smartest (or the nuttiest) futurist on Earth". CNN. Retrieved May 22, 2010. 
  23. ^ a b Raymond Kurzweil at the Internet Movie Database
  24. ^ Independent documentary Plug & Pray. Plugandpray-film.com. Retrieved on 2011-06-16.
  25. ^ Transcendent Man makes comments substantiating this at about mark 00:50 mentions resurrecting dead at about 1:10.
  26. ^ Letzing, John (2012-12-14). "Google Hires Famed Futurist Ray Kurzweil". The Wall Street Journal. Retrieved 2013-02-13. 
  27. ^ a b Will Google's Ray Kurzweil Live Forever?, interview at WSJ, April 12, 2013.
  28. ^ Ray Kurzweil, Founder, Chairman & CEO, Kurzweil Technologies | CRN.com. Retrieved on 2012-03-27.
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  74. ^ Miller, Robin (2004-10-20). "Neal Stephenson Responds With Wit and Humor". Slashdot. Retrieved 2008-08-28. "My thoughts are more in line with those of Jaron Lanier, who points out that while hardware might be getting faster all the time, software is shit (I am paraphrasing his argument). And without software to do something useful with all that hardware, the hardware's nothing more than a really complicated space heater." 
  75. ^ Brand, Stewart (2004-06-14). "Bruce Sterling – "The Singularity: Your Future as a Black Hole"". The Long Now Foundation. Retrieved 2009-06-08. 
  76. ^ Sterling, Bruce. "The Singularity: Your Future as a Black Hole" (MP3). "It's an end-of-history notion, and like most end-of-history notions, it is showing its age." 
  77. ^ Dennett, Daniel. "The Reality Club: One Half Of A Manifesto". Edge.org. "I'm glad that Lanier entertains the hunch that Dawkins and I (and Hofstadter and others) 'see some flaw in logic that insulates [our] thinking from the eschatalogical implications' drawn by Kurzweil and Moravec. He's right. I, for one, do see such a flaw, and I expect Dawkins and Hofstadter would say the same." 
  78. ^ Brooks, Rodney. "The Reality Club: One Half Of A Manifesto". Edge.org. "I do not at all agree with Moravec and Kurzweil's predictions for an eschatological cataclysm, just in time for their own memories and thoughts and person hood to be preserved before they might otherwise die." 
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  80. ^ Allen, Paul. "The Singularity Isn't Near". Technology Review. "Kurzweil's reasoning rests on the Law of Accelerating Returns and its siblings, but these are not physical laws. They are assertions about how past rates of scientific and technical progress can predict the future rate. Therefore, like other attempts to forecast the future from the past, these "laws" will work until they don't." 
  81. ^ a b Lyons, Daniel (May 2009). "I, Robot". Newsweek. Retrieved 2009-05-22. "During the height of the dotcom boom in 1998, Kurzweil predicted that the economy would keep on booming right through 2009 and that at least one U.S. company would have a market capitalization of more than $1 trillion, neither of which occurred. Kurzweil also predict-ed that by 2009 a top supercomputer would be capable of performing 20 petaflops, the same as the human brain. In fact, the top supercomputer at the time, the IBM Roadrunner, was capable of only 1.456 petaflops mark. Kurzweil also predicted that by now our cars would be able to drive themselves by communicating with intelligent sensors embedded in highways, and that speech recognition would be in widespread use." 
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  83. ^ Joy, Bill (April 2000). "Why the future doesn't need us". Wired. Retrieved 2008-09-21. "...it was only in the autumn of 1998 that I became anxiously aware of how great are the dangers facing us in the 21st century. I can date the onset of my unease to the day I met Ray Kurzweil..." 
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  86. ^ Lyons, Daniel (May 2009). "I, Robot". Newsweek. Retrieved 2009-07-24. "Still, a lot of people think Kurzweil is completely bonkers and/or full of a certain messy byproduct of ordinary biological functions. They include P. Z. Myers, a biologist at the University of Minnesota, Morris, who has used his blog to poke fun at Kurzweil and other armchair futurists who, according to Myers, rely on junk science and don't understand basic biology. "I am completely baffled by Kurzweil's popularity, and in particular the respect he gets in some circles, since his claims simply do not hold up to even casually critical examination," writes Myers. He says Kurzweil's Singularity theories are closer to a deluded religious movement than they are to science. "It's a New Age spiritualism—that's all it is," Myers says. "Even geeks want to find God somewhere, and Kurzweil provides it for them."" 
  87. ^ Myers, PZ. "Singularitarianism?". Pharyngula blog. Retrieved 14 February 2011. 
  88. ^ Lanier, Jaron. "One Half of a Manifesto". Edge.org. Retrieved 2008-08-28. 
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