[Paleopsych] Ray Kurzweil: Follow Your Passion

Steve Hovland shovland at mindspring.com
Mon May 23 21:59:50 UTC 2005

WORCESTER, Mass. -- March 23, 2005 -- Ray Kurzweil, world-renowned 
inventor, entrepreneur, author, and futurist, will be the commencement 
speaker at Worcester Polytechnic Institute's (WPI) 137th graduation 
ceremony on Saturday, May 21. Kurzweil will discuss his ideas on the future 
interplay between mankind and artificial intelligence with WPI's graduates 
and community in his speech, "When Humans Transcend Biology." After 
Kurzweil's talk, the university will confer upon him an honorary degree.
Widely regarded as one of the preeminent inventors and innovators of our 
time, Kurzweil foresees an era when the human body will be enhanced by 
software and computers, enabling humans to download intelligence and to 
live long past the current life expectancy.
Kurzweil has laid out his vision in this area through his writing. He has 
authored five books and hundreds of articles. His first book, The Age of 
Intelligent Machines, was named Best Computer Science Book of 1990. His 
best-selling book, The Age of Spiritual Machines, When Computers Exceed 
Human Intelligence, has been published in nine languages and achieved the 
#1 best selling book on Amazon.com in the categories of "science" and 
"artificial intelligence." Kurzweil's most recent work, coauthored with 
Terry Grossman, M.D., is Fantastic Voyage: Live Long Enough to Live 
Forever. His next book, The Singularity is Near, When Humans Transcend 
Biology, is due to be published in September 2005.

Photo by Michael Lutch. Courtesy of Kurzweil Tech. Inc."
"As our graduates begin the next chapter of their lives, Ray Kurzweil is an 
excellent role model -- providing a firsthand example of an innovative 
career that has used science, technology and engineering to benefit the 
world," says Dennis D. Berkey, president of WPI.
Kurzweil launched his thriving career in high school when he appeared on 
the television show "I've Got a Secret," hosted by Steve Allen. His secret 
was that he programmed his computer to analyze abstract patterns in musical 
compositions and then composed original melodies in a similar style. With 
this project, Kurzweil won first prize in the International Science Fair, 
and he was named one of the 40 Westinghouse Science Talent Search winners 
who were able to meet President Lyndon Johnson in a White House ceremony.
Kurzweil subsequently rose to even greater success with the invention of 
several devices, including the first omni-font optical character 
recognition (OCR), 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. He has founded and developed nine 
businesses in OCR, music synthesis, speech recognition, reading technology, 
virtual reality, financial investment, cybernetic art, and other areas of 
artificial intelligence.
As a result of his accomplishments, Kurzweil was named in 2002 to the 
National Inventors Hall of Fame, which was established by the U.S. Patent 
Office. He has also been the recipient of numerous awards, including the 
$500,000 Lemelson-MIT Prize, the nation's largest award in invention and 
innovation, and the 1999 National Medal of Technology, the nation's highest 
honor in technology, from President Bill Clinton in a White House ceremony.
Kurzweil grew up in Queens, N.Y. He received his B.S. in computer science 
and literature from Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

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