At a glance:Ray Kurzweil has been described as “the restless genius” by the Wall Street Journal, and “the ultimate thinking machine” by Forbes. Inc. magazine ranked him #8 among entrepreneurs in the United States, calling him the “rightful heir to Thomas Edison
Ray Kurzweil has been described as “the restless genius”by the Wall Street Journal, and “the ultimate thinking machine”by Forbes. Inc. magazine ranked him #8 among entrepreneurs in the United States, calling him the “rightful heir to Thomas Edison,”and PBS included Ray as one of 16 “revolutionaries who made America,”along with other inventors of the past two centuries.
As one of the leading inventors of our time, Ray was the principal developer of the first CCD flat-bed scanner, the first omni-font optical character recognition, 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. Ray’s web site Kurzweil AI.net has over one million readers.
Among Ray’s many honors, he is the recipient of the $500,000 MIT-Lemelson Prize, the world’s largest for innovation. In 1999, he received the National Medal of Technology, the nation’s highest honor in technology, from President Clinton in a White House ceremony. And in 2002, he was inducted into the National Inventor’s Hall of Fame , established by the US Patent Office.
He has received sixteen honorary Doctorates and honors from three U.S. presidents.
Ray has written five books, four of which have been national best sellers. The Age of Spiritual Machines has been translated into 9 languages and was the #1 best selling book on Amazon in science. Ray’s latest book, The Singularity is Near, was a New York Times best seller, and has been the #1 book on Amazon in both science and philosophy.
If you’d like to bring in Ray Kurzweil as your next keynote speaker, please fill out the “Request More Information” form on the right.
Disabilities and Assistive TechnologiesMr. Kurzweil explains that accelerating information technology will lead us to completely overcome handicaps associated with sensory and physical disabilities and describes the extent to which we have already done that for many handicaps. He predicts that in about a quarter century we will have millions of nanobots in our brains putting our brains on the Internet and providing high bandwidth communication directly with the brain, so vision will ultimately become obsolete. He can speak on a range of topics relating to blindness, disabilities, and assistive technologies in the 21st century. With his many assistive technology firsts, among them: the first pocket-sized print-to-speech reading machine for the blind (2006), the first Continuous Speech Natural Language Command and Control Software (1997), the first Speech Recognition Dictation System for Windows (1994), the first commercially marketed Large-Vocabulary Speech Recognition, the first Omni-Font (any type font) Optical Character Recognition (1976), and the first Print-to-Speech Reading Machine for the Blind (1976), Mr. Kurzweil speaks from experience about the future of disabilities in an age of accelerating technology.
Business/InvestingMr. Kurzweil frequently presents to private equity firms and businesses on technology and the capital markets, business and technology trends, near- and long-term predictions, and strategy in an age of exponential technological growth.
Despite the current economic turmoil, Mr. Kurzweil presents an optimistic argument that the exponential growth of information technology will continue unaffected during the economic downturn as it has in every past recession and during the Great Depression, noting that information technology goes beyond just computerized devices, but includes such disparate areas as health and medicine, and energy. In every past recession and the Great Depression, he notes that economic growth snapped back to where it would have been had the downturn never occurred. He presents an incredible wealth of data showing that information technologies have the scale and the ability to overcome the major problems we face such as energy and the environment, health, and even poverty.
Innovation/InventionAs one of the leading inventors of our time, Ray was the principal developer of the first CCD flat-bed scanner, the first omni-font optical character recognition, 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. Mr. Kurzweil has a presentation that describes a program for innovation, how to foster it in an organization, and how to bring inventions to market. He explains how the law of accelerating returns and the exponential growth of information technology are accelerating opportunities for innovation. In this talk, he draws upon his own history of innovation which led to his induction into the National Inventors Hall of Fame, founded by the U.S. Patent Office in 2002.
EducationMr. Kurzweil presents to many academic groups including educators, administrators, executive boards, and higher education IT specialists about the intersection of information technology (a broad perspective), education and human knowledge. He describes a future in which there is widespread and inexpensive access to education around the world, individualized learning through computer assisted instruction, full-immersion virtual reality classrooms and labs, and ultimately the ability to download knowledge and skills directly to our brains. He remarks on the key role of education in supporting the unique attribute of our species which is an exponential expanding knowledge base that we pass down from generation to generation. He notes that as jobs are destroyed at the bottom of the skill ladder and more satisfying and better paying jobs are added at the top, investment in education has increased to keep pace with the rising skill ladder. Specifically, in 1870 there were 60,000 college students and today there are over 6 million. Expenditures in K-12 education in constant dollars and on a per capita basis have multiplied by ten over the past century. Our economy is increasingly dominated by knowledge intensive jobs hence the increasingly central role of education and educational technology.
Health and LongevitySince the release of his book, Fantastic Voyage: Live Long Enough to Live Forever (2004) and with the upcoming release of a new health book, TRANSCEND: Nine Steps to Living Well Forever (2009), Mr. Kurzweil addresses many medical and health related audiences on the merger of science, technology, and medicine and its impact on the healthcare industry and human longevity. He explains that as medicine becomes an information technology it will be subject to the laws of accelerating returns, meaning that it will be a thousand times more powerful than today in ten years, and a million times more powerful in 20 years.