Ray Kurzweil speaker

Ray Kurzweil

A genius of innovation and enterprise, an outstanding motivational speaker – either in the flesh or in a virtual state

Ray Kurzweil is the world’s leading expert on the impact of computer technology on society – described by many as a genius he is a futurist and inventor specialising in artificial intelligence.

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Ray Kurzweil's 2022 biography

  • Director of Engineering at Google
  • Claims in his latest book How to Create a Mind that by the 2020s we will have reverse-engineered the human brain.
  • “A legendary inventor with a history of mind-blowing ideas.” – Fortune magazine.
  • Holds 19 honorary Doctorates and honours from three U.S. presidents.

Ray Kurzweil’s Career

By the time he graduated Ray Kurzweil’s career as an inventor was well underway and in 1974 he started the company Kurzweil Computer Products, Inc. During this time he created technologies which we rely on today – the first software for transforming written word into data (optical character recognition OCR), the first print-to-speech software for the blind and the first text-to-speech synthesizer as well as the first flatbed computer scanner to make it all possible.

Inspired by a growing friendship with Stevie Wonder he went on to create a new type of music synthesizer which could accurately duplicate the sound of real instruments.

Kurzweil continued to invent and then sell his companies, often staying on as a consultant while developing his ideas about the future impact of artificial intelligence on mankind. He has written seven books to date, including The Age of Spiritual Machines 1998 in which he claims that in the near future, computers will make better investment decisions than humans and The Singularity Is Near: When Humans Transcend Biology 2005 which was made into a film and a full-length documentary called The Transcendent Man. In The Singularity Is Near Kurzweil argues that accelerating technologies mean the definitions between human and machine are becoming blurred. leading ultimately to a new civilization in which we transcend our biological limitations.

The Singularity is also the name given to the day in 2029 that Kurzweil says technology will be able to think for itself.

In 2009, he unveiled The Singularity University, an institution that aims to “assemble, educate and inspire leaders who strive to understand and facilitate the development of exponentially advancing technologies.”

His website KurzweilAI.net has over two million readers. He is chairman and chief executive officer of Kurzweil Technologies and is married with two children.

Ray is also director of engineering at Google.

Current / Past Roles & Positions

  • Claims in his latest book How to Create a Mind that by the 2020s we will have reverse-engineered the human brain.
  • ‘A legendary inventor with a history of mind-blowing ideas’ – Fortune magazine.
  • Holds 19 honorary Doctorates and honours from three U.S. presidents.

Awards, Accolades, Achievements & Honours

  • 1965 First place in the International Science Fair for inventing the classical music synthesizing computer.
  • 1978 Grace Murray Hopper Award from the Association for Computing Machinery – given annually to one “outstanding young computer professional.”
  • 1990 “Engineer of the Year” award from Design News.
  • 1994 Dickson Prize in Science from Carnegie Mellon University.
  • 1998 “Inventor of the Year” award from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
  • 1999 National Medal of Technology from the President of the United States.
  • 2000 Telluride Tech Festival Award of Technology.
  • 2001 Lemelson-MIT Prize for a lifetime of developing technologies to help the disabled and to enrich the arts.
  • 2002 Included in the National Inventors Hall of Fame
  • 2009 The Arthur C. Clarke Lifetime Achievement Award
  • 2011, Kurzweil was named a Senior Fellow of the Design Futures Council
  • Inc. magazine ranked him among the most fascinating entrepreneurs in the United States, calling him the rightful heir to Thomas Edison,
  • PBS included him as one of 16 revolutionaries who made America, along with other inventors of the past two centuries.

Speaking Style

Ray Kurzweil has an abundance of startling ideas and predictions about the future which he delivers with a level of clarity and detail that make him utterly believable.

Born in 1948 Ray Kurzweil was brought up in the New York City borough of Queens, his father was a musician and his mother was an artist. He was taught the basics of computer engineering by his uncle and wrote his first computer programme at the age of 15. In high school he created a pattern-recognition software programme that analyzed the works of classical composers, paving the way for a range of startling technological breakthroughs and inventions.

In 1970 he got a BSc in Computer Science and Literature from MIT having invented and then sold a computer programme for matching high school students to colleges while he was there.

Inventions

As one of the leading inventors of our time, Ray was the principal developer of the first CCD flatbed scanner, the first omni-font optical character recognition (OCR), the first print-to-speech reading machine for the blind, the first text-to-speech synthesizer, the first music synthesizer capable of recreating the grand piano and other orchestral instruments, and the first commercially marketed large-vocabulary speech recognition.

A commercial version of the Kurzweil OCR was used by Lexis and Nexis to build their online legal and news information services and Ray sold the company to Xerox. Today, the OCR – now called Xerox TextBridge – continues as a market leader. His music system also continues today as one of the market leaders in computer-based musical instruments, marketed in more than 40 countries.

The Kurzweil system of voice recognition is now used in ten per cent of the emergency rooms in the United States and in many other medical specialities and Ray’s print-to-speech reading technology received the Stevie Wonder ‘Product of the Year’ Award.

Ray Kurzweil is best known for presenting a thought-provoking, long-term, big-picture view of the future of technology and its implications for society; explaining the exponential growth of technology (what he calls, “The Law of Accelerating Returns”) and its path towards ubiquitous computing, reverse engineering the brain, full immersion virtual reality, nanotechnology, the merging of human and machine, and ultimately extreme human life extension. He describes a bright future in which technology will provide solutions to the most pressing social, economic, and environmental problems. These ideas form the core thesis of his lectures.

Ray Kurzweil's 2022 talks & topics

The Power of Ideas is Accelerating

Renowned author, inventor, and futurist, Ray Kurzweil, has a public track record of more than a quarter of a century of predictions with a stunning 86% accuracy rate, all based on his Law of Accelerating Returns which states that information technology is advancing exponentially — doubling in price-performance, capacity, and bandwidth every year.

Since 1990, Kurzweil has laid out these predictions in a series of books: The Age of Intelligent Machines (1990), The Age of Spiritual Machines (1999), The Singularity is Near (2005), and How to Create a Mind (2012). And now, in his forthcoming book, The Singularity is Nearer (2020), he presents new data and a fresh look to the future as we approach the steep part of the exponential. By questioning old assumptions and applying exponential thinking Ray Kurzweil explains how we will rewrite the software of life, rebuild the world atom by atom, and reinvent our intelligence, to solve the world’s grandest challenges.

The Acceleration of Technology in the 21st Century: the Impact on Business, the Economy, and Society

At the onset of the 21st century, it will be an era in which the very nature of what it means to be human will be both enriched and challenged, as our species breaks the shackles of its genetic legacy, and achieves inconceivable heights of intelligence, material progress, and longevity. The paradigm shift rate is now doubling every decade, so the twenty-first century will see 20,000 years of progress at today’s rate. Computation, communication, biological technologies (for example, DNA sequencing), brain scanning, knowledge of the human brain, and human knowledge in general are all accelerating at an even faster pace, generally doubling price-performance, capacity, and bandwidth every year.

Three-dimensional molecular computing will provide the hardware for human-level “strong” AI well before 2030. The more important software insights will be gained in part from the reverse-engineering of the human brain, a process well under way. While the social and philosophical ramifications of these changes will be profound, and the threats they pose considerable, celebrated futurist Ray Kurzweil presents an inspiring vision of our ultimate destiny in which we will merge with our machines, can live forever, and are a billion times more intelligent…all within the next three to four decades.

TRANSCEND: Nine Steps to Living Well Forever

The Democratization of Innovation and Design in an Era of Accelerating Technologies

An Integrated World Economy in an Age of Accelerating Information Technology

The Future of Blindness and Disabilities in an Age of Accelerating Technology

Science, Technology, and Invention: Strategies to Create the Future

The democratization of innovation is a turbulent process with rapid creation, violent destruction, many winners and many losers. Despite the apparent chaos, we can discern predictable patterns. The pace of innovation itself is doubling every decade. The overall price-performance and capacity of every form of information technology grows exponentially, generally doubling in a year or less.

As information technology achieves each new level of price-performance and capacity, new applications become feasible and existing business models lose their viability. Another implication is that the tools of disruptive change have been democratized. A couple of students created Google on their thousand dollar laptops. A few years later, a couple of undergraduates created Facebook with tools that everyone has.

The rate of change is now so rapid that even three to five year business plans need to consider that every level of an industry will undergo major changes during that period. It’s not just the devices we carry around that are influenced by these exponential changes. Health and medicine is now an information technology with the collection of the human genome, the means of changing genes in a mature individual, and the ability to design interventions on computers and to test them on biological simulators. Even energy will be transformed as we apply nanotechnology to the design of solar panels and energy storage devices. The means to change the world are in everyone’s hands.

Accelerating to the Singularity

Identifying an Opportunity in Technology

21st Century Technology and the Capital Markets

The Acceleration of Technology in the 21st Century: the Impact on Higher Education and Society

Disabilities and Technology in the 21st Century

The Acceleration of Technology in the 21st Century: the Impact on Healthcare and Medicine

We are now at a pivotal time in health technologies. With the collection of the genome in 2003 and the advent of techniques such as RNA interference that can actually turn off the genes that promote disease and aging, medicine has transformed itself into an information technology. As such, medicine is now subject to the “law of accelerating returns,” meaning that these technologies will be a thousand times more powerful than today in ten years, and a million times more powerful in 20 years.

Up until recently, health interventions were hit or miss. We’d find something that seemed to work with only crude models of how they worked. Drug development was called “drug discovery,” basically finding things that worked rather than designing them. Today it is within our grasp to slow the aging process and take full advantage of advances in bio- and nanotechnology that have already begun and will be occurring at an accelerating pace in the years ahead. Ultimately, we will merge with our machines, vastly extending human health and longevity, and greatly increasing our intelligence.

The Web Within Us: When Minds and Machines Become One

Human Body Version 2.0: When Humans Transcend Biology

How Far will Technology Transform Humanity

Exponentially Growing Ventures from Exponentially Shrinking Technology

Ray Kurzweil's 2022 speaking fees

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