Famed futurist to direct engineering at Google

Dec 15, 2012
Futurist and inventor Raymond Kurzweil, pictured here on April 28, 2009, said on Friday that he is going to work as director of engineering at Google to help "turn the next decade's 'unrealistic' visions into reality."

Futurist and inventor Raymond Kurzweil said on Friday that he is going to work as director of engineering at Google to help "turn the next decade's 'unrealistic' visions into reality."

Kurzweil, an author whose books include "The Age of Spiritual Machines" and "Fantastic Voyage: Live Long Enough to Live Forever," said that Monday would be his first day on the job at .

"In 1999, I said that in about a decade we would see technologies such as self-driving cars and mobile phones that could answer your questions, and people criticized these predictions as unrealistic," Kurzweil said in an online newsletter.

"Fast forward a decade—Google has demonstrated self-driving cars, and people are indeed asking questions of their Android phones," he continued.

"We're really on a remarkable trajectory of quickening innovation, and Google is at the forefront of much of this development."

Kurzweil, who will turn 65 years old in February, said he has been enthralled by technology, especially machine learning, since he was in his early teens.

He designed software that enable a computer to write original music and his inventions include the first print-to-speech reading machine for the blind, according to the website kurzweilai.net.

"I've always worked to create practical systems that will make a difference in people's lives, which is what excites me as an inventor," Kurzweil said.

"I'm thrilled to be teaming up with Google to work on some of the hardest problems in computer science so we can turn the next decade's 'unrealistic' visions into reality."

Google research director Peter Norvig praised Kurzweil's contributions to technology, among them an eponymous reading machine that people—including famed musician Stevie Wonder—use to have written works read aloud.

"We appreciate his ambitious, long-term thinking, and we think his approach to problem-solving will be incredibly valuable to projects we're working on at Google," Norvig said in response to an AFP inquiry.

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User comments : 4

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coxie
not rated yet Dec 15, 2012
I believe Mr. Kurzweil will be only one of a number of people with the Director of Engineering title at Google. As I recall, nearly every Google product has their own Director of Engineering, and there are several other people with that title scattered throughout the company.

I doubt that Mr. Kurzweil will be spending much (if any) time with them.

Most likely he's been given his own portfolio, and is being hired just as much for his very public profile, as for any technical work that he plans to do for Google.
gwrede
1 / 5 (1) Dec 15, 2012
The article says he is hired for his vision, not to sit in a cubicle resolving technical issues.
Jeddy_Mctedder
1.7 / 5 (6) Dec 15, 2012
his vision is disastrously overly optimisitic, he will be hired, money will be paid to him and the BEST possible outcome is that he is ignored by other overpaid people who will tell their managers that trying to use the google cash hoard to promote immortality technologies and virtual realities of the 4th millennium is not only a financial boondoggle but also not useful to people in the future.

kurzweil has become another snake oil seller, selling 30k 'courses' to anyone who will sign up. i've seen this shtick at upenn, harvard, columbia university. executive mba's and other programs that take 30k of people's money and loans and turn it into 'enlightening' courses meant to make you feel like you got your money's worth. that's what kurzweils' singularity institute really is. a cash machine of the present.
Cave_Man
5 / 5 (1) Dec 16, 2012


kurzweil has become another snake oil seller, selling 30k 'courses' to anyone who will sign up. i've seen this shtick at upenn, harvard, columbia university. executive mba's and other programs that take 30k of people's money and loans and turn it into 'enlightening' courses meant to make you feel like you got your money's worth. that's what kurzweils' singularity institute really is. a cash machine of the present.


I just hope he is not a machine sent from the future to ensure the creation of his ancestors.....

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