Raymond "Ray" Kurzweil (born February 12, 1948) is an American author, inventor, futurist, and director of engineering at Google. Aside from futurology, he is involved in fields such as optical character recognition (OCR), text-to-speech synthesis, speech recognition technology, and electronic keyboard instruments. He is the author of several books on health, artificial intelligence (AI), transhumanism, the technological singularity, and futurism. Kurzweil is generally recognized as a public advocate for the futurist and transhumanist movements, due to his stances on life extension technologies, his efforts to forecast future advances in technology, and his interest in the concept of the technological singularity. At the same time, he has attracted significant criticism from scientists and thinkers.
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.
Ray was the principal inventor of the first CCD flatbed 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 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 U.S. Patent Office. He has received nineteen honorary doctorates, and honors from three U.S. presidents. Ray has authored 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.
Ray’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. His latest bestseller is How to Create a Mind: The Secret of Human Thought Revealed.
His e-magazine and newsletter, KurzweilAI.net, has over two and half million readers annually. The "Kurzweil Accelerating Intelligence newsletter" concisely covers relevant major science and technology breakthroughs daily. It also profiles a blog, essays, events, videos, and books related to science and technology.
Ray Kurzweil speaks widely to audiences public and private, and is a routine keynote at notable industry conferences like DEMO, SXSW and TED. Coverage of his public speaking and print and media appearances is cataloged on his website.