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About the Author

Ray Kurzweil was born on February 12, 1948. He 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 show more recreating the grand piano and other orchestral instruments, and the first commercially marketed large-vocabulary speech recognition. He has received numerous awards including the MIT-Lemelson Prize and the National Medal of Technology. In 2002, he was inducted into the National Inventor's Hall of Fame. He has written several books including The Age of Spiritual Machines, The Age of Intelligent Machines, The Singularity Is Near, and How to Create a Mind: The Secret of Human Thought Revealed. (Bowker Author Biography) show less
Image credit: Credit: Michael Lutch

Works by Ray Kurzweil

Science of the Soul — Performer — 2 copies
The Singularity Is Nearer (2022) 2 copies

Associated Works


AI (129) artificial intelligence (230) biology (74) biotechnology (21) brain (25) computer (21) computer science (53) computers (144) culture (23) diet (19) ebook (29) essays (54) evolution (55) future (137) futurism (164) futurology (34) genetics (21) health (95) intelligence (24) longevity (39) medicine (18) mind (18) nanotechnology (44) neuroscience (39) non-fiction (369) nutrition (21) philosophy (216) popular science (26) psychology (31) read (48) religion (35) robotics (29) science (540) science fiction (38) singularity (131) technology (329) to-read (362) transhumanism (122) unread (45) wishlist (25)

Common Knowledge

Legal name
Kurzweil, Raymond
Other names
Queens, New York, USA
Massachusetts Institute of Technology (BS|1970)
Kurzweil, Sonya (spouse)
Kurzweil, Amy (child)
Kurzweil Music Systems
Awards and honors
First place - International Science Fair (1965)
Grace Murray Hopper Award (1978)
Dickson Prize in Science (1994)
Inventor of the Year -- MIT (1998)
National Medal of Technology (1999)
Telluride Tech Festival Award of Technology (2000) (show all 11)
Lemelson-MIT Prize (2001)
National Inventors Hall of Fame (2002)
Arthur C. Clarke Lifetime Achievement Award (2009)
ACM (Fellow)
Design Futures Council (Fellow)
Short biography
Ray Kurzweil is the principal developer of (among a host of other inventions) the first print-to-speech reading machine for the blind, the first text-to-speech synthesizer, the first CCD flat-bed scanner, and the first commercially marketed large vocabulary speech recognition system. Recipient of the National Medal of Technology among many other honors. [from What We Believe But Cannot Prove (2006)]



Why would I read a futurist’s book of predictions eighteen years late??? Well, being a technology educator and sci-fi hobbyist, it’s a book I should have read eighteen years ago. Kurzweil is a polarizing figure. He’s made bold and aggressive predictions his whole career. He had some big successes, but many of his predictions have failed to meet his timelines. But in an age of Generative AI, Musk’s Neuralink, Quantum computer advances, and broad implementation of nanoparticles in material science, medicine, and device engineering, I wonder if the criticisms have been premature.
Let’s be realistic, the explosion of interest in Generative AI (or as some call it – ‘plagiarism machines’ or ‘computer models that can lie’) has brought us no closer to ‘the singularity.’ However, it has made AI more conversational and has the potential to bring more existing information to more people faster. In addition, clearly technology adoption rates have accelerated (at least in some cases). It took Facebook four and a half years to reach 100 million users, ChatGPT reached that milestone in two months.
In this bestseller, Kurzweil takes on predictions around GRN (Genetics, Nanotechnology, and Robotics/strong AI). He explores the potential advances on human brain interfaces, brain reengineering, and uploading the brain into a computer. Crazy stuff, right? Well, he does include over 100 pages of notes and references. This is not just some person making wild predictions, it is supported with a substantial amount of research and expertise. Is it crazy to think we become more integrated with technology when 95% of the world is covered by broadband networks? When the average screen time in the U.S. is over seven hours, when nearly 7 billion humans own a smart phone, and the average person checks their mobile device over 95 times per day? At some level, humans have already merged with technology. The global active implanted medical device market size is $26.82 billion and most consider it in its infancy.
Ultimately, the book is about ‘the Singularity.’ This is a future event where technology advances so rapidly that human life will be transformed and unrecognizable. Likely outcomes are where advanced AI exceeds humans as the dominate force, or more likely, according to Kurzweil, humans and AI’s merge.
Even reading this book eighteen years later, I found it to be well researched, intriguing, bold, and useful. Don’t expect a perfect roadmap and timeline to our species’ future but do expect a great deal of well thought out implications, extrapolations, and forecasts. Four stars. I, for one, welcome our new A.I. overlords, they can’t do any worse in managing the planet than we are.
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Kevin_A_Kuhn | 32 other reviews | Aug 11, 2023 |
This is a long and technically complex book. Much of the information is based on current research efforts and extrapolation of this work in an exponential growth model. Mr. Kurzweil is highly knowledgeable and well read. He has given much thought to his speculations. I as most people see his predictions as reasonable in some cases but as overly optimistic in most cases. It is hard to predict the future but his ideas on merging with technology to overcome death are highly questionable. He covers a lot of territory in his book and some of his anticipation of technological advances are likely in the fields of nanotechnology and robotics.… (more)
GlennBell | 32 other reviews | Sep 3, 2022 |
Overall this book did not represent enough new concepts that I have not found elsewhere. Instead it seemed repetitive. I was not especially impressed with his speculation about the future as it did not seem to rise to the level of serious science that I expect from an author like Mr. Kurzweil. I would recommend the author's book on the Singularity as a more interesting alternative read.
jwhenderson | 14 other reviews | Jun 3, 2021 |
[The singularity:] is not a certainty but in my opinion is a plausibility in the working lifetimes of most people here, that there will be perhaps something superhuman come along. We will either create or become something superhuman, in various ways.
Vernor Vinge

Change is the process by which the future invades our lives.
Alvin Toffler

You can't write this story. Neither can anyone else.
John W. Campbell

This is a difficult book to review. It's a futurist treatise on how ever-accelerating changes will change society. And it's a love letter to technology, Mr. Kurzweil is obviously enamored of computers. It's also very well written, particularly for such a dense topic. The Singularity is Near reads like a cross between an academic paper and an Isaac Asimov science popularization.

The basic premise is that technology is progressing at an ever-increasing rate, and at a certain point, change will continue so rapidly that it's difficult to predict anything beyond that point, the singularity. It's a fascinating concept, and one I've been introduced to in the fiction of Charles Stross. The future will not look like the present with better tech, it's going to be pretty unrecognizable. Possible technologies such as genetic engineering, nanotech manufacturing, and robotics and artificial intelligence (the author's "GNR" triumvirate), will transform not only how we live but what we think of as a human being. Artificial intelligences, critical to the theory of the singularity, are by definition capable of expanding their own capabilities, and will drive much change.

It's an ambitious work, and not the first book the author has written on this topic. It does have weak spots, namely the tendency to assume that technology will progress according to plan, not accounting for technological setbacks very well. All we've seen in the last few centuries is progress, so of course that's all we ever will see.

To the book's credit, it does include a chapter on the dangers of these technologies. The "grey goo" scenario, where out of control self-replicating nanobots consume our biosphere for raw materials, is particularly chilling, but there are other equally deadly ways for hostile "strong" AI or perhaps genetically engineered plague vectors to wipe out the human race. Responses to the critics of the arguments presented in the book tends to be dismissive, however.

The Singularity is Near is hardly a book to be read during a lazy afternoon on the beach, but it's very rewarding and thought-provoking if you stick with it.
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neilneil | 32 other reviews | Dec 7, 2020 |



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