The World of Ray Kurzweil
- Today's Pioneer
- Tomorrow's Vision
- Why We Geeks Should Care
Here's how it is in Ray Kurzweil's world: In the very near future, personal computers as we know them will be replaced by increasingly smaller, perhaps microscopic, computing devices dedicated to specific tasks and activities. Within that same time frame, the telephone will become a device for real-time language translation.
Within 50 years, a student will no longer go to school to learn calculus; he or she will acquire the knowledge by digesting a pill that contains new genetic programming and nanotechnology that "puts" calculus into the student's consciousness while enhancing the computational power of his brain. And within a hundred years, those who reach the age of 100 (and there will be many of them) will be confronted with a significant question: Do I download my consciousness into an artificial, life-sustaining device, or do I move on and die?
Such are the ponderings of Kurzweil's mindbut is he to be believed?
Kurzweil is one of the preeminent thinkers and inventors of our time. His pioneering work has made it possible for computers to recognize text and turn it into speech. For his achievements, Kurzweil has been inducted into the National Inventors Hall of Fame and has been awarded the National Medal of Technology, the highest honor the United States bestows in the field of technology.
Kurzweil has written two noteworthy books about technology in our world: The Age of Intelligent Machines and the The Age of Spiritual Machines. He has also developed nine businesses in fields such as optical character recognition (OCR), music synthesis, speech recognition, reading technology, virtual reality, financial investment, medical simulation, and cybernetic art. (See http://www.kurzweiltech.com/aboutray.html for details.)
That he has, by his own reports, eliminated Type 2 diabetes from his body by taking 250 nutritional supplements a day only adds credibility to the daring of his "outside-the-box" thinking.
Kurzweil is no futuristic charlatan. He is the real deal, doing real thinking about the world of now and the world of tomorrow. His assertions about things to come are not to be taken likely: The real-time phone translator that I describe above is one of his new inventions; he is still working out the kinks.