Kurzweil on or prior to July 5, 2005
February 12, 1948
|Alma mater||Massachusetts Institute of Technology (B.S.)|
|Occupation||Author, entrepreneur, futurist and inventor|
|Spouse(s)||Sonya Rosenwald Kurzweil (1975–present)|
|Website|| Official website |
Raymond Kurzweil ( // KURZ-wyle; born February 12, 1948) is an American inventor and futurist. 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, and gives public talks to share his optimistic outlook on life extension technologies and the future of nanotechnology, robotics, and biotechnology.
An inventor is a person who creates or discovers a new method, form, device or other useful means that becomes known as an invention. The word inventor comes from the Latin verb invenire, invent-, to find. The system of patents was established to encourage inventors by granting limited-term, limited monopoly on inventions determined to be sufficiently novel, non-obvious, and useful. Although inventing is closely associated with science and engineering, inventors are not necessarily engineers nor scientists.
Futurists are people whose specialty or interest is futurology or the attempt to systematically explore predictions and possibilities about the future and how they can emerge from the present, whether that of human society in particular or of life on Earth in general.
Kurzweil received the 1999 National Medal of Technology and Innovation, the United States' 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 . And in 2002 he was inducted into the National Inventors Hall of Fame, established by the U.S. Patent Office. He has received 21 honorary doctorates, and honors from three U.S. presidents. The Public Broadcasting Service (PBS) included Kurzweil as one of 16 "revolutionaries who made America" 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".
The National Medal of Technology and Innovation is an honor granted by the President of the United States to American inventors and innovators who have made significant contributions to the development of new and important technology. The award may be granted to a specific person, to a group of people or to an entire organization or corporation. It is the highest honor the United States can confer to a US citizen for achievements related to technological progress.
The National Inventors Hall of Fame (NIHF) is an American not-for-profit organization which recognizes individual engineers and inventors who hold a U.S. patent of highly significant technology. Founded in 1973, its primary mission is to "honor the people responsible for the great technological advances that make human, social and economic progress possible." Besides the Hall of Fame, it also operates a museum in Alexandria, Virginia, and a former middle school in Akron, Ohio, and sponsors educational programs, a collegiate competition, and special projects all over the United States to encourage creativity among students.
The Public Broadcasting Service (PBS) is an American public broadcaster and television program distributor. It is a nonprofit organization and the most prominent provider of educational television programming to public television stations in the United States, distributing series such as American Experience, America's Test Kitchen, Antiques Roadshow, Arthur, Downton Abbey, Finding Your Roots, Frontline, The Magic School Bus, Masterpiece, Mister Rogers' Neighborhood, Nature, Nova, the PBS NewsHour, Sesame Street, Teletubbies, and This Old House.
Kurzweil has written 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. Kurzweil speaks widely to audiences both public and private and regularly delivers keynote speeches at industry conferences like DEMO, SXSW, and TED. He maintains the news website KurzweilAI.net, which has over three million readers annually.
The Age of Spiritual Machines is a non-fiction book by inventor and futurist Ray Kurzweil about artificial intelligence and the future course of humanity. First published in hardcover on January 1, 1999 by Viking, it has received attention from The New York Times, The New York Review of Books and The Atlantic. In the book Kurzweil outlines his vision for how technology will progress during the 21st century.
The Singularity Is Near: When Humans Transcend Biology is a 2005 non-fiction book about artificial intelligence and the future of humanity by inventor and futurist Ray Kurzweil.
The New York Times is an American newspaper based in New York City with worldwide influence and readership. Founded in 1851, the paper has won 127 Pulitzer Prizes, more than any other newspaper. The Times is ranked 17th in the world by circulation and 2nd in the U.S.
Kurzweil has been employed by Google since 2012, where he is a "director of engineering".
Google LLC is an American multinational technology company that specializes in Internet-related services and products, which include online advertising technologies, search engine, cloud computing, software, and hardware. It is considered one of the Big Four technology companies, alongside Amazon, Apple and Facebook.
Ray Kurzweil grew up in the New York City borough of Queens. He attended NYC Public Education Kingsbury Elementary School PS188. He was born to secular Jewish parents who had emigrated from Austria just before the onset of World War II. He was exposed via Unitarian Universalism to a diversity of religious faiths during his upbringing. [ citation needed ] His Unitarian church had the philosophy of many paths to the truth – the religious education consisted of studying a single religion for six months before moving on to the next.[ citation needed ] His father, Fredric was a concert pianist, a noted conductor, and a music educator. His mother, Hannah was a visual artist. He has one sibling, his sister Enid.
Queens is the easternmost of the five boroughs of New York City. It is the largest borough geographically and is adjacent to the borough of Brooklyn at the southwestern end of Long Island. To its east is Nassau County. Queens also shares water borders with the boroughs of Manhattan and the Bronx. Coterminous with Queens County since 1899, the borough of Queens is the second largest in population, with an estimated 2,358,582 residents in 2017, approximately 48 percent of them foreign-born. Queens County also is the second most populous county in the U.S. state of New York, behind Brooklyn, which is coterminous with Kings County. Queens is the fourth most densely populated county among New York City's boroughs, as well as in the United States. If each of New York City's boroughs were an independent city, Queens would be the nation's fourth most populous, after Los Angeles, Chicago, and Brooklyn. Queens is the most ethnically diverse urban area in the world. It is the most ethnically diverse county in the United States.
Austria, formal name: the Republic of Austria, is a country in Central Europe comprising nine federated states. Its capital, largest city and one of nine states is Vienna. Austria has an area of 83,879 km2 (32,386 sq mi), a population of nearly nine million people and a nominal GDP of $477 billion. It is bordered by the Czech Republic and Germany to the north, Hungary and Slovakia to the east, Slovenia and Italy to the south, and Switzerland and Liechtenstein to the west. The terrain is landlocked and highly mountainous, lying within the Alps; only 32% of the country is below 500 m (1,640 ft), and its highest point is 3,798 m (12,461 ft). The majority of the population speaks local Bavarian dialects as their native language, and German in its standard form is the country's official language. Other regional languages are Hungarian, Burgenland Croatian, and Slovene.
Unitarian Universalism (UU) is a liberal religion characterized by a "free and responsible search for truth and meaning". Unitarian Universalists assert no creed, but instead are unified by their shared search for spiritual growth. As such, their congregations include many atheists, agnostics, and theists within their membership. The roots of Unitarian Universalism lie in liberal Christianity, specifically Unitarianism and universalism. Unitarian Universalists state that from these traditions comes a deep regard for intellectual freedom and inclusive love. Congregations and members seek inspiration and derive insight from all major world religions.
Kurzweil decided he wanted to be an inventor at the age of five.As a young boy, Kurzweil had an inventory of parts from various construction toys he'd been given and old electronic gadgets he'd collected from neighbors. In his youth, Kurzweil was an avid reader of science fiction literature. At the age of eight, nine, and ten, he read the entire Tom Swift Jr. series. At the age of seven or eight, he built a robotic puppet theater and robotic game. He was involved with computers by the age of 12 (in 1960), when only a dozen computers existed in all of New York City, and built computing devices and statistical programs for the predecessor of Head Start. At the age of fourteen, Kurzweil wrote a paper detailing his theory of the neocortex. His parents were involved with the arts, and he is quoted in the documentary Transcendent Man as saying that the household always produced discussions about the future and technology.
The neocortex, also called the neopallium and isocortex, is the part of the mammalian brain involved in higher-order brain functions such as sensory perception, cognition, generation of motor commands, spatial reasoning and language.
Transcendent Man is a 2009 documentary film by American filmmaker Barry Ptolemy about inventor, futurist and author Ray Kurzweil and his predictions about the future of technology in his 2005 book, The Singularity is Near. In the film, Ptolemy follows Kurzweil around his world as he discusses his thoughts on the technological singularity, a proposed advancement that will occur sometime in the 21st century when progress in artificial intelligence, genetics, nanotechnology, and robotics will result in the creation of a human-machine civilization.
Kurzweil attended Martin Van Buren High School. During class, he often held onto his class textbooks to seemingly participate, but instead, focused on his own projects which were hidden behind the book. His uncle, an engineer at Bell Labs, taught young Kurzweil the basics of computer science.In 1963, at age 15, he wrote his first computer program. He created pattern-recognition software 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. Later that year, he won first prize in the International Science Fair for the invention; Kurzweil's submission to Westinghouse Talent Search of his first computer program alongside several other projects resulted in him being one of its national winners, which allowed him to be personally congratulated by President Lyndon B. Johnson during a White House ceremony. These activities collectively impressed upon Kurzweil the belief that nearly any problem could be overcome.
While in high school, Kurzweil had corresponded with Marvin Minsky and was invited to visit him at MIT, which he did. Kurzweil also visited Frank Rosenblatt at Cornell.
He obtained a B.S. in computer science and literature in 1970 at MIT. He went to MIT to study with Marvin Minsky. He took all of the computer programming courses (eight or nine) offered at MIT in the first year and a half.
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 $670,000 in 2013 dollars) plus royalties.
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.
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 Kurzweil Computer Products to Lernout & Hauspie. Following the legal and bankruptcy problems of the latter, the system became a subsidiary of Xerox later 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.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 South 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.
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 attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) 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.
During the 1990s, Kurzweil founded the Medical Learning Company.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."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 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.
In December 2012, Kurzweil was hired by Google in a full-time position to "work on new projects involving machine learning and language processing".He was personally hired by Google co-founder Larry Page. Larry Page and Kurzweil agreed on a one-sentence job description: "to bring natural language understanding to Google".
He received a Technical Grammy on February 8, 2015, specifically for his invention of the Kurzweil K250.
Kurzweil has joined the Alcor Life Extension Foundation, a cryonics company. In the event of his declared death, Kurzweil plans to 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.
Kurzweil is agnostic about the existence of a soul.On the possibility of divine intelligence, Kurzweil has said, "Does God exist? I would say, 'Not yet.'"
Kurzweil married Sonya Rosenwald Kurzweil in 1975 and has two children.Sonya Kurzweil is a psychologist in private practice in Newton, Massachusetts, working with women, children, parents and families. She holds faculty appointments at Harvard Medical School and William James College for Graduate Education in Psychology. Her research interests and publications are in the area of psychotherapy practice. Kurzweil also serves as an active Overseer at Boston Children's Museum.
He has a son, Ethan Kurzweil, who is a venture capitalist,and a daughter, Amy Kurzweil, who is a writer and cartoonist. Kurzweil is a cousin of writer Allen Kurzweil.
Kurzweil said "I realize that most inventions fail not because the R&D department can’t get them to work, but because the timing is wrong—not all of the enabling factors are at play where they are needed. Inventing is a lot like surfing: you have to anticipate and catch the wave at just the right moment."
For the past several decades, Kurzweil's most effective and common approach to doing creative work has been conducted during his lucid dreamlike state which immediately precedes his awakening state. He claims to have constructed inventions, solved difficult problems, such as algorithmic, business strategy, organizational, and interpersonal problems, and written speeches in this state.
Kurzweil's first book, The Age of Intelligent Machines , was published in 1990. The nonfiction work discusses the history of computer artificial intelligence (AI) and forecasts 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.
In 1993, Kurzweil published a book on nutrition 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 further elucidates his theories regarding the future of technology, which themselves stem from his analysis of long-term trends in biological and technological evolution. Much emphasis is on the likely course of AI development, along with the future of computer architecture.
Kurzweil's next book, published in 2004, returned to human health and nutrition. Fantastic Voyage: Live Long Enough to Live Forever was co-authored by Terry Grossman, a medical doctor and specialist in alternative medicine.
The Singularity Is Near , published in 2005, was made into a movie starring Pauley Perrette from NCIS. 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 film Kurzweil's life and ideas for the documentary film Transcendent Man ,which was directed by Barry Ptolemy.
Transcend: Nine Steps to Living Well Forever,a follow-up to Fantastic Voyage, was released on April 28, 2009.
Kurzweil's book, How to Create a Mind: The Secret of Human Thought Revealed, was released on Nov. 13, 2012.In it Kurzweil describes his Pattern Recognition Theory of Mind, the theory that the neocortex is a hierarchical system of pattern recognizers, and argues that emulating this architecture in machines could lead to an artificial superintelligence.
Kurzweil's latest book and first fiction novel, Danielle: Chronicles of a Superheroine, follows a young girl who uses her intelligence and the help of her friends to tackle real-world problems. The book comes with companion materials, A Chronicle of Ideas, and How You Can Be a Danielle that provide real-world context. The book is set to release in January 2019.
Kurzweil wrote and co-produced a movie directed by Anthony Waller, called The Singularity Is Near: A True Story About the Future, 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, 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.
The feature-length documentary film The Singularity by independent filmmaker Doug Wolens (released at the end of 2012), showcasing Kurzweil, has been acclaimed as "a large-scale achievement in its documentation of futurist and counter-futurist ideas” and “the best documentary on the Singularity to date."
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. Kurzweil kept all of his father's records, notes, and pictures in order to maintain as much of his father as he could. Ray Kurzweil is known for taking over 200 pills a day, meant to reprogram his biochemistry. This, according to Kurzweil, is only a precursor to the devices at the nano scale that will eventually replace a blood-cell, self updating of specific pathogens to improve the immune system.
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.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. 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 claims it has encouraged great skepticism in his future projections.
Kurzweil was working with the Army Science Board in 2006 to develop a rapid response system to deal with the possible abuse of biotechnology. He suggested 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. However, he suggests 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. "Nanotech Could Give Global Warming a Big Chill".
In media appearances, Kurzweil has stressed the extreme potential dangers of nanotechnologybut 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."
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 somewhat unconventional 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.By 2008, he had reduced the number of supplement pills to 150. . By 2015 Kurzweil further reduced his daily pill regimen down to 100 pills.
Kurzweil has made a number of bold claims for his health regimen. In his book The Singularity Is Near, he claimed that he brought his cholesterol level down from the high 200s to 130, raised his HDL (high-density lipoprotein) from below 30 to 55, and lowered his homocysteine from an unhealthy 11 to a much safer 6.2. He also claimed that his C-reactive protein "and all of my other indexes (for heart disease, diabetes, and other conditions) are at ideal levels." He further claimed that his health regimen, including dramatically reducing his fat intake, successfully "reversed" his type 2 diabetes. (The Singularity Is Near, p. 211)
He has written 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. 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, now have two websites promoting their first and second book.
Kurzweil asserts that in the future, everyone will live forever.In a 2013 interview, he 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". Among other things, he has supported the SENS Research Foundation's approach to finding a way to repair aging damage, and has encouraged the general public to hasten their research by donating.
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 claims to believe that the neocortex of an adult human consists of approximately 300 million pattern recognizers. He draws on the commonly accepted belief that the primary anatomical difference between humans and other primates that allowed for superior intellectual abilities was the evolution of a larger neocortex. He claims that the six-layered neocortex deals with increasing abstraction from one layer to the next. 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 claims to believe 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?”
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 Machine Intelligence Research Institute.In October 2005, Kurzweil joined the scientific advisory board of the Lifeboat Foundation. On May 13, 2006, Kurzweil was the first speaker at the Singularity Summit at Stanford University in Palo Alto, California. 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.
In February 2009, Kurzweil, in collaboration with Google and the NASA Ames Research Center in Mountain View, California, 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". Using Vernor Vinge's Singularity concept as a foundation, the university offered its first nine-week graduate program to 40 students in June, 2009.
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 dissolution 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.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". In May 1997, chess World Champion Garry Kasparov was defeated by IBM's Deep Blue computer in a well-publicized chess match.
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,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.
In October 2010, Kurzweil released his report, "How My Predictions Are Faring" in PDF format,which analyzes the predictions he made in his book The Age of Intelligent Machines (1990), The Age of Spiritual Machines (1999) and The Singularity is Near (2005). Of the 147 total predictions, Kurzweil claims that 115 were "entirely correct", 12 were "essentially correct", and 17 were "partially correct", and only 3 were "wrong". Adding together the "entirely" and "essentially" correct, Kurzweil's claimed accuracy rate comes to 86%.
Daniel Lyons, writing in Newsweek magazine, 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.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.
Kurzweil's predictions for 2009 were mostly inaccurate, claims Forbes magazine. For example, Kurzweil predicted, "The majority of text is created using continuous speech recognition." This is not the case.
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. In The Singularity Is Near he makes fewer concrete short-term predictions, but includes many longer-term visions.
He states that with radical life extension will come radical life enhancement. He says 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. "If you look at video games and how we went from pong to the virtual reality we have available today, it is highly likely that immortality in essence will be possible." 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. Kurzweil says 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 won't be able to keep up, unless we enhance our own intelligence by merging with the intelligent machines we are creating". Kurzweil states that humans will be a hybrid of biological and non-biological intelligence that becomes increasingly dominated by its non-biological component. He stresses that "AI is not an intelligent invasion from Mars. These are brain extenders that we have created to expand our own mental reach. They are part of our civilization. They are part of who we are. So over the next few decades our human-machine civilization will become increasingly dominated by its non-biological component. In Transcendent ManKurzweil states "We humans are going to start linking with each other and become a metaconnection we will all be connected and all be omnipresent, plugged into this global network that is connected to billions of people, and filled with data." Kurzweil states in a press conference that we are the only species that goes beyond our limitations- "we didn't stay in the caves, we didn't stay on the planet, and we're not going to stay with the limitations of our biology". In his singularity based documentary he is quoted saying "I think people are fooling themselves when they say they have accepted death".
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 to meet all of humanity's energy needs.
Kurzweil was referred to as "the ultimate thinking machine" by Forbesand as a "restless genius" by The Wall Street Journal . PBS included Kurzweil as one of 16 "revolutionaries who made America" 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".
Although the idea of a technological singularity is a popular concept in science fiction, some authors such as Neal Stephensonand 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. Other prominent AI thinkers and computer scientists such as Daniel Dennett, Rodney Brooks, David Gelernter and Paul Allen also criticized Kurzweil's projections.
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."
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.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."
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."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. 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.
British philosopher John Gray 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.
The Brain Makers, a history of artificial intelligence written in 1994 by HP Newquist, noted that "Born with the same gift for self-promotion that was a character trait of people like P.T. Barnum and Ed Feigenbaum, Kurzweil had no problems talking up his technical prowess . . . Ray Kurzweil was not noted for his understatement."
In a 2015 paper, William D. Nordhaus of Yale University, takes an economic look at the impacts of an impending technological singularity. He comments: "There is remarkably little writing on Singularity in the modern macroeconomic literature."Nordhaus supposes that the Singularity could arise from either the demand or supply side of a market economy, but for information technology to proceed at the kind of pace Kurzweil suggests, there would have to be significant productivity trade-offs. Namely, in order to devote more resources to producing super computers we must decrease our production of non-information technology goods. Using a variety of econometric methods, Nordhaus runs six supply side tests and one demand side test to track the macroeconomic viability of such steep rises in information technology output. Of the seven tests only two indicated that a Singularity was economically possible and both of those two predicted, at minimum, 100 years before it would occur.
Marvin Lee Minsky was an American cognitive scientist concerned largely with research of artificial intelligence (AI), co-founder of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology's AI laboratory, and author of several texts concerning AI and philosophy.
The technological singularity is a hypothetical future point in time at which technological growth becomes uncontrollable and irreversible, resulting in unfathomable changes to human civilization.
Whole brain emulation (WBE), mind upload or brain upload is the hypothetical futuristic process of scanning the mental state of a particular brain substrate and copying it to a computer. The computer could then run a simulation model of the brain's information processing, such that it responds in essentially the same way as the original brain and experiences having a conscious mind.
Jeffrey Hawkins is the American founder of Palm Computing and Handspring where he invented the PalmPilot and Treo, respectively. He has since turned to work on neuroscience full-time, founding the Redwood Center for Theoretical Neuroscience in 2002 and Numenta in 2005. Hawkins is the author of On Intelligence which explains his memory-prediction framework theory of the brain.
Singularitarianism is a movement defined by the belief that a technological singularity—the creation of superintelligence—will likely happen in the medium future, and that deliberate action ought to be taken to ensure that the singularity benefits humans.
Artificial general intelligence (AGI) is the intelligence of a machine that could successfully perform any intellectual task that a human being can. It is a primary goal of some artificial intelligence research and a common topic in science fiction and future studies. Some researchers refer to Artificial general intelligence as "strong AI", "full AI" or as the ability of a machine to perform "general intelligent action"; others reserve "strong AI" for machines capable of experiencing consciousness.
The Age of Intelligent Machines is a non-fiction book about artificial intelligence by inventor and futurist Ray Kurzweil. This was his first book and the Association of American Publishers named it the Most Outstanding Computer Science Book of 1990. It was reviewed in The New York Times and The Christian Science Monitor. The format is a combination of monograph and anthology with contributed essays by artificial intelligence experts such as Daniel Dennett, Douglas Hofstadter, and Marvin Minsky.
"Why The Future Doesn't Need Us" is an article written by Bill Joy in the April 2000 issue of Wired magazine. In the article, he argues that "Our most powerful 21st-century technologies—robotics, genetic engineering, and nanotech—are threatening to make humans an endangered species." Joy warns:
In futures studies and the history of technology, accelerating change is a perceived increase in the rate of technological change throughout history, which may suggest faster and more profound change in the future and may or may not be accompanied by equally profound social and cultural change.
An artificial brain is software and hardware with cognitive abilities similar to those of the animal or human brain.
American author, inventor and futurist Raymond Kurzweil has become well known for his predictions about artificial intelligence and the human species, mainly concerning the technological singularity. He predicts that Artificial Intelligence would outsmart the human brain in computational capabilities by mid-21st century. His first book, The Age of Intelligent Machines, published in 1990, put forth his theories on the results of the increasing use of technology and predicted the explosive growth in the internet, among other predictions. Later works, 1999's The Age of Spiritual Machines and 2005's The Singularity is Near outlined other theories including the rise of clouds of nano-robots (nanobots) called foglets and the development of Human Body 2.0 and 3.0, whereby nanotechnology is incorporated into many internal organs.
Robert Barry Ptolemy is an American film director, producer and writer. Ptolemy directed Transcendent Man (2009) a documentary film about futurist and inventor Ray Kurzweil.
How to Create a Mind: The Secret of Human Thought Revealed is a non-fiction book about brains, both human and artificial, by the inventor and futurist Ray Kurzweil. First published in hardcover on November 13, 2012 by Viking Press it became a New York Times Best Seller. It has received attention from The Washington Post, The New York Times and The New Yorker.
The Singularity is a 2012 documentary film about the technological singularity, produced and directed by Doug Wolens. The film has been called "a large-scale achievement in its documentation of futurist and counter-futurist ideas”.
Our Final Invention: Artificial Intelligence and the End of the Human Era is a 2013 non-fiction book by the American author James Barrat. The book discusses the potential benefits and possible risks of human-level or super-human artificial intelligence. Those supposed risks include extermination of the human race.
William Hertling is a science fiction writer and programmer. He was a co-founder and Director of Engineering at Tripwire, and a web strategist and software developer at Hewlett-Packard where he obtained numerous software engineering patents in the areas of networking protocols, printing, and web applications.
José Luis Cordeiro is an engineer, economist, futurist, and transhumanist, who has worked on different areas including economic development, international relations, Latin America, the European Union, monetary policy, comparison of constitutions, energy trends, cryonics, and longevity. Books he has authored include The Great Taboo, Constitutions Around the World: A Comparative View from Latin America, and El Desafio Latinoamericano and La Muerte de la Muerte.
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.
It's an end-of-history notion, and like most end-of-history notions, it is showing its age.CS1 maint: BOT: original-url status unknown (link)
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.
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.
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.
...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...
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."CS1 maint: BOT: original-url status unknown (link) via
|Wikiquote has quotations related to: Ray Kurzweil|
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Ray Kurzweil .|