Friday Profile: Ray Kurzweil and Artificial Intelligence

When Ray Kurzweil was a student at MIT a computer was the size of a room. Now, 40 years later, that same technology can fit on his pocket.  Kurzweil is an author, inventor, and futurist who, among many topics, speaks about the intersection of information technology, education, and human knowledge. Kurzweil is known for being one of the leading inventors of our time for developing:

  • the first CCD flat-bed scanner,
  • the first omni-font optical character recognition,
  • the first print-to-speech reading machine for the blind,
  • 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 is also known for his controversial futurist predictions and his work in popularizing the term “singularity” — the moment when thinking machines transcend their creators ( Despite any controversy that may follow him, over the last twenty years a number of his predictions have proven to be accurate. If you watched Jeopardy last month, you saw IBM’s super computer Watson win the ultimate challenge of computer vs. human. IBM scientists spent the last four years developing the computing system “to rival the human’s ability to answer questions posed in natural language with the speed, accuracy and confidence” ( and they succeeded.

Watch the video below to find out more about why IBM chose Jeopardy as their challenger.


Artificial Intelligence also made itself on to the pages of GQ magazine this month when writer Jon Ronson set out to strike up conversation with some “Social Robots.” He met Zeno, Aiko, and Bina. Bina was also interviewed by a New York Times journalist last year. Watch the video below to see how she stands up to an interview.


Whether you stand with Kurzweil and believe singularity is just around the corner or not, technology has inarguably become a part of a lot of our lives and our futures. Technology has the ability to make education accessible and affordable while also keeping learning new and cutting edge. How much does your classroom rely on technology?

To learn more about Ray Kurzweil, watch this TED video on how technology will transform us!

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