Futurist Ray Kurzweil Joins Google: Ray Kurzweil is more than an inventor. Sure, he gave us 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. But Kurzweil is more than that. He is keenly focused on exploring how biological systems (mostly human) will merge with artificial intelligence in ways that will impact science, economics, politics, medicine, education and everything in between.
Today, he starts his new job as Director of Engineering at Google. It's unclear what he'll be doing but anyone who has heard of Google's X Lab might be able to put two and two together. The X Lab is a secret facility where technologists are working on 100 projects pertaining to future technologies. Surely Kurzweil will get a peak inside.
He's been thinking about or something like it for 13 years. On his website, Kurzweil said, "In 1999, I said that in about a decade we would see technologies such as self-driving cars and mobile phones that could answer your questions, and people criticized these predictions as unrealistic. Fast forward a decade — Google has demonstrated self-driving cars, and people are indeed asking questions of their Android phones. It’s easy to shrug our collective shoulders as if these technologies have always been around, but we’re really on a remarkable trajectory of quickening innovation, and Google is at the forefront of much of this development."