Listen to Ray Kurzweil’s “Will We Recognize the Future?” talk at NPR’s Talk of the Nation
Technology is ever-changing — and changing ever faster. But what happens when the rate of technological change becomes so fast that the fundamental nature of what it means to be human changes, too? Inventor, technologist and futurist Ray Kurzweil talks with NPR’s “Talk of the Nation” host Ira Flatow about the idea of the “singularity” — what happens when technology advances so much that it’s impossible to predict what happens next. Will artificial intelligence, nanotechnology, and biotechnology be able to completely reshape what it means to be human?
Inventor, entrepreneur, visionary, Ray Kurzweil’s accomplishments read as a startling series of firsts — a litany of technological breakthroughs we’ve come to take for granted. Kurzweil invented the first optical character recognition (OCR) software for transforming the written word into data, the first print-to-speech software for the blind, the first text-to-speech synthesizer, and many electronic instruments.
Yet his impact as a futurist and philosopher is no less significant. In his best-selling books, which include The Age of Spiritual Machines: When Computers Exceed Human Intelligence and The Singularity Is Near: When Humans Transcend Biology (which is became a movie in 2008), Kurzweil depicts in detail a portrait of the human condition over the next few decades, as accelerating technologies forever blur the line between human and machine.