Ray Kurzweil (Plenary Keynote Speaker)
Ray Kurzweil has been described as “the restless genius” by the Wall Street Journal, and “the ultimate thinking machine” by Forbes. Inc. Forbes 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.
Kurzweil's ideas on the future have been touted by his many fans, ranging from Bill Gates to Bill Clinton. MIT's Marvin Minsky writes that “with his brilliant descriptions of the coming connections of computers with immortality, Kurzweil clearly takes his place as a leading futurist of our time.” George Gilder writes that “Kurzweil's ideas make all other roads to the computer future look like goat paths in Patagonia .” Bill Gates, Microsoft head, had this to say about Ray Kurzweil and his latest book. "Ray Kurzweil is the best person I know at predicting the future of artificial intelligence. His intriguing new book envisions a future in which information technologies have advanced so far and fast that they enable humanity to transcend its biological limitations-transforming our lives in ways we can't yet imagine." Sun Microsystems Chief Scientist Bill Joy, whose own discussions of the promise and peril of technology have attracted worldwide attention, writes in his now famous Wired magazine cover story that “I can date the onset of my unease to the day I met Ray Kurzweil, the deservedly famous inventor of the first reading machine for the blind and many other amazing things.” Stevie Wonder writes “Ray's technology and ideas have truly been among the sunshines of my life. Kurzweil's writings are a wonderful riff on the next century from a keen seer, a great inventor, and a good friend.”
As one of the leading inventors of our time, Ray 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 flat-bed 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. Ray's web site Kurzweil AI.net has over one million readers.
Among Ray's many honors, he 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 US Patent Office .
He has received twelve honorary Doctorates and honors from three U.S. presidents.
Ray has written five books, four of which have been national best sellers. The Age of Spiritual Machines has been translated into 9 languages and was the #1 best selling book on Amazon in science. Ray's latest book, The Singularity is Near, is now in its fourth printing after two months and has been # 1 on Amazon in both science and philosophy.