[Recorded July 13 2009] Ray Kurzweil is a 21st century polymath. He is a scientist, inventor, entrepreneur, author, visionary and futurist. As a scientist and inventor he has pioneered work in optical character recognition (OCR), speech recognition technology, and electronic keyboard instruments. As an entrepreneur, Kurzweil has founded businesses in the fields of OCR, music synthesis, speech recognition, reading technology, virtual reality and financial investment. He is the author of numerous books on health, artificial intelligence (AI), the technological singularity and futurism. The Kurzweilian version of the future is the inevitable merger of humans and intelligent machines.
In this discussion with Computer History Museum Senior Curator Dag Spicer, Kurzweil shares his vision of how technology will re-shape the human body (and culture generally) into one that incorporates advanced technologies into a new type of post-human organism. Kurzweil sees this transformation occurring over the next 20 to 50 years and beginning with the integration of electronic-based systems into the human body. Some decades after that, a further transformation occurs–one based on nanotechnology—which incorporates the manipulation and construction of interfaces and complex systems based on atomic-level structures that merge with and control specific bodily functions and attack its problems (i.e. cancer). Some of the philosophical implications of Kurzweils vision are also discussed.