Raymond Kurzweil 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. 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.
Raymond Kurzweil became well known for his predictions about artificial intelligence and the human species, mainly concerning the technological singularity. He predicted that Artificial Intelligence would outsmart the human brain in computational capabilities by the 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 on 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.
Kurzweil received the 1999 National Medal of Technology and Innovation, the United States’ highest honour 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 honours 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.