Ray Kurzweil Joins Google as AI Guru
Ray Kurzweil, an inventor and futurist who predicts the coming rise of superhuman intelligence, has become Google's new guru for pushing the boundaries of artificial intelligence starting today (Dec. 17).
The career move to become Google's director of engineering makes sense for Kurzweil. Google's development of self-driving cars and smarter Internet algorithms has arguably done much to excite people about the future, even if such accomplishments remain far from achieving Kurzweil's vision of the Singularity — an idea of a smarter-than-human mind arising from scenarios such as augmented human brains or the clever AI driving robots and computers.
"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 a blog post. "Fast forward a decade — Google has demonstrated self-driving cars, and people are indeed asking questions of their Android phones."
Kurzweil's new job description includes working on machine learning and language processing. The AI driving new software programs in future computers and robots will need to master such skills in order to become more effective partners for humans.
Some critics say that Kurzweil oversimplifies or underestimates the difficult challenges that lie ahead in neuroscience and artificial intelligence. But Kurzweil has still inspired a huge number of leaders and thinkers who want to make his vision a reality. Their enthusiasm has driven events such as the Singularity Summit and the Silicon Valley startup incubator known as Singularity University.
Google apparently counts itself as a Kurzweil fan.
"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," Kurzweil said.