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Raymond Kurzweil

From Academic Kids

Dr. Raymond Kurzweil (born February 12, 1948) is a pioneer in the fields of optical character recognition (OCR), text-to-speech synthesis, speech recognition technology, and electronic musical keyboards. He is the author of several books on health, artificial intelligence, transhumanism, and technological singularity.

Kurzweil grew up in Queens, New York. In his youth, he was an avid consumer of science fiction. By the age of 12 he had programmed his first computer. Shortly after his discovery of programming, he appeared on I've Got a Secret, during which he performed a classical piano piece that was, in reality, played and written by a computer that he created. In 1968 he sold a company he created that matched high schoolers with prospective colleges by answering a 200 question survey. He earned a bachelor's degree in computer science in 1970 from MIT.

Kurzweil was the principal developer of the first omni-font optical character recognition, the first print-to-speech reading machine for the blind, the first CCD flatbed scanner, 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. He has founded nine businesses in OCR, music synthesis, speech recognition, reading technology, virtual reality, financial investment, medical simulation, and cybernetic art.

In his Law of Accelerating Returns, Ray Kurzweil proposes a generalization of Moore's law that forms the basis of many people's beliefs regarding the technological singularity. Moore's law describes an exponential growth pattern in the complexity of integrated semiconductor circuits. Kurzweil extends this to include technologies from far before the integrated circuit to future forms of computation. He believes that the exponential growth of Moore's law will continue beyond the use of integrated circuits into technologies that will lead to the singularity.

Kurzweil was inducted in 2002 into the National Inventors Hall of Fame, established by the U.S. Patent Office. He received the $500,000 Lemelson-MIT Prize, United States' largest award in invention and innovation, and the 1999 National Medal of Technology, the nation's highest honor in technology.

He has also received scores of other awards, including the 1994 Dickson Prize (Carnegie Mellon University's top science prize), Engineer of the Year from Design News, Inventor of the Year from MIT in 1998, the Association of American Publishers' award for the Most Outstanding Computer Science Book of 1990, and the Grace Murray Hopper Award from the Association for Computing Machinery. He has received eleven honorary doctorates, and honors from three U.S. presidents.

In December 2004, Kurzweil joined the advisory board of the Singularity Institute for Artificial Intelligence.

Kurzweil is also an enthusiastic advocate of using technology to achieve immortality. He advocates using nanobots to maintain the human body, but given their present non-existence he adheres instead to a strict daily routine involving ingesting "250 supplements, eight to 10 glasses of alkaline water and 10 cups of green tea." [1] (http://www.wired.com/news/medtech/0,1286,66585,00.html?tw=wn_tophead_3)

Kurzweil's eponymous musical keyboards company produces among the most sophisticated and realistic (and expensive) synthesized-sound creation instruments.

Trivia

Published books

Kurzweil is the co-author (and subject) of the 2002 book Are We Spiritual Machines?: Ray Kurzweil vs. the Critics of Strong A.I.. He also wrote the introduction to the 2003 computer graphics book Virtual Humans and collaborated with the Canadian band Our Lady Peace for their 2000 album Spiritual Machines.

External links

pl:Raymond Kurzweil

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