Ray Kurzweil (US)

Ray Kurzweil (US)

Inventor, Futurist & Google Director


The inventor of the flatbed scanner has been described as ‘the rightful heir to Thomas Edison’. Winner of the National Medal of Technology, he is also responsible for Optical Character Recognition, speech recognition and the first music synthesiser capable of recreating the piano and other instruments. Technology’s most credible optimist, he looks to a future where human biology will merge with genetics, nanotechnology and robotics to create a new species of unrecognisable high intelligence and durability.


An inventor and futurist, Ray Kurzweil has been described as ‘the rightful heir to Thomas Edison’. His extraordinary career as an inventor started at high school, when he appeared on American television, playing a piano composition. He explained that the piece had been composed by a computer – which he had built himself. That was almost fifty years ago. Today he remains on the cutting edge of development as Google’s Director of Engineering.

After the composing software Ray went on to invent the CCD flat-bed scanner, the first omni-font optical character recognition software, the first print-to-speech synthesiser, the first music synthesiser capable of recreating the piano and other instruments, and the first commercially marketed large-vocabulary speech recognition system. Ray’s print-to-speech reading machine transformed the lives of thousands of blind people and he recently refined it into a pocket-sized version.

Described as ‘the restless genius’ by the Wall Street Journal, and ‘the ultimate thinking machine’ by Forbes. Among his many awards, Ray has received over a dozen honorary doctorates. He was awarded the National Medal of Technology, Lemelson-MIT Prize (America’s largest prize for invention and innovation), and the Louis Braille Award for service to the blind. He is included in the Computer Industry Hall of Fame and the National Inventor’s Hall of Fame, established by the US Patent Office.

Ray is the author of seven books covering the future of technology, the human mind, and creativity. As well has his phenomenal contribution to inventions and technology, Ray also predicted the fall of the Soviet empire, the growth of the internet, developments in artificial intelligence, the demise of paper documents and the popularity of mobile phones.

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