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Quotes of the day: Ray Kurzweil

Published Wednesday, February 11, 2015 @ 7:37 PM EST
Feb 11 2015

Raymond "Ray" Kurzweil (b. February 12, 1948) is an American author, computer scientist, inventor, futurist, and is a director of engineering at Google. Aside from futurology, he is involved the fields of optical character recognition (OCR), text-to-speech synthesis, speech recognition technology, and electronic keyboard instruments. He has written books on health, artificial intelligence (AI), transhumanism, the technological singularity, and futurism. Kurzweil is a public advocate for the futurist and transhumanist movements. (Click here for full Wikipedia article)


A primary reason that evolution- of life-forms or technology- speeds up is that it builds on its own increasing order.

A successful person isn't necessarily better than her less successful peers at solving problems; her pattern-recognition facilities have just learned what problems are worth solving.

Before the next century is over, human beings will no longer be the most intelligent of capable type of entity on the planet.

Biology is a software process. Our bodies are made up of trillions of cells, each governed by this process. You and I are walking around with outdated software running in our bodies, which evolved in a very different era.

Consciousness becomes a matter of philosophical debate; it's not scientifically reliable.

Death gives meaning to our lives. It gives importance and value to time. Time would become meaningless if there were too much of it.

I became interested in long-term trends because an invention has to make sense in the world in which it is finished, not the world in which it is started.

I do have to pick my priorities. Nobody can do everything.

If you use conventional data compression on the (human brain's) genome, you get about 23 million bytes (a small fraction of the size of Microsoft Word), which is a level of complexity we can handle.

Information defines your personality, your memories, your skills.

It is in the nature of exponential growth that events develop extremely slowly for extremely long periods of time, but as one glides through the knee of the curve, events erupt at an increasingly furious pace. And that is what we will experience as we enter the twenty-first century.

Most inventions fail not because the R&D department can't get them to work but because the timing is wrong. Inventing is a lot like surfing: you have to anticipate and catch the wave at just the right moment.

My spiritual education... took place at a Unitarian Church. The theme was "many paths to the truth." ...even the inconsistencies were illuminating. It became apparent to me that the basic truths were profound enough to transcend apparent contradictions.

Neither noise nor information is predictable.

No matter what problem you encounter, whether it's a grand challenge for humanity or a personal problem of your own, there's an idea out there that can overcome it. And you can find that idea.

Once a computer achieves human intelligence it will necessarily roar past it.

Order... is information that fits a purpose.

Our intuition about the future is linear. But the reality of information technology is exponential, and that makes a profound difference. If I take 30 steps linearly, I get to 30. If I take 30 steps exponentially, I get to a billion.

Our technology, our machines, is part of our humanity. We created them to extend ourselves, and that is what is unique about human beings.

People say we're running out of energy. That's only true if we stick with these old 19th century technologies. We are awash in energy from the sunlight.

Sometimes, a deeper order- a better fit to a purpose- is achieved through simplification rather than further increases in complexity.

The basic feasibility of communicating in both directions between electronic devices and biological neurons has already been demonstrated.

The ethical debates are like stones in a stream. The water runs around them. You haven't seen any biological technologies held up for one week by any of these debates.

The power of ideas to transform the world is itself accelerating.

The primary political and philosophical issue of the next century will be the definition of who we are.

The twentieth century was like twenty years' worth of change at today's rate of change.

This... was the religion that I was raised with: veneration for human creativity and the power of ideas.

We can't think fast enough to logically analyze situations quickly, so we rely on our powers of pattern recognition.

We use one stage of technology to create the next stage, which is why technology accelerates, why it grows in power.

What we spend our time on is probably the most important decision we make.


(February 12 is also the birthday of Abraham Lincoln and Charles Darwin.)

Categories: Quotes of the day, Ray Kurzweil


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