Google engineer sees technology in human mind’s future

April 4, 2013

By the time you read these words, the changes inventor and futurist Ray Kurzweil says are coming, may already have halfway happened.

And by April 13, when the newly appointed director of engineering at online giant Google comes to Cal Performances’ Wheeler Auditorium for his “Strictly Speaking” lecture, he’s likely to be light speed ahead of himself.

The Wall Street Journal has called him “the restless genius” and MIT gave him the largest-in-the-world $5000,000 Lemelson Prize for innovation, but Kurzweil has been too busy inventing machines to notice.

A master of “firsts” (CCD flatbed scanner, omni font optical character recognition, print-to-speech reading machine, text-to-speech synthesizer, and more), he claims to have seen it all coming. Lately, he’s had a different machine on his mind: the human mind.

“I wrote a paper 50 years ago about how I thought the brain worked and I described it as a series of pattern recognition modules,” he writes, in a recent email interview. “The difference today is that I am able to cite neuroscience evidence — very recent evidence, actually — for this thesis.”[…]