Earlier this week, Google announced it was bringing on futurist Ray Kurzweil as the company’s director of engineering– a high profile hire that could result in some excellent returns for the company. Not only is Kurzweil interested in helping guide science-fiction-turned-reality projects like the self-driving car, his knowledge of machine-learning will certainly affect how Google looks at its networks, data centers, and algorithms.
Google has other good reasons to want a man like Kurzweil among its ranks. Along with being called a “restless genius” and a “the ultimate thinking machine,” he is considered one of the leading inventors of our time. But it is his recent work in popularizing the technology singularity–an event horizon that may lead to the emergence of greater-than-human superintelligent machines–that excites fans of Kurzweil (and possibly Google) the most. His latest book on the topic, The Singularity Is Near: When Humans Transcend Biology, is a New York Times best seller.
Kurzweil gave a fascinating lecture at this year’s Singularity Summit where he covered an impressive amount of ground, starting with how computing has grown at an exponential rate in the last 110 years. Because of this unprecedented growth, we are on a trajectory that should allow us to reverse engineer the brain and our bodies, which, according to Kurzweil, will eventually offer long term improvement of human life.
At #9 in our countdown of the Top 10 FORA.tv videos of 2012, watch Ray Kurzweil: How to Build a Mind.