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Reverse engineering the human brain with futurist Ray Kurzweil

"How to Create a Mind: The Secret of Human Thought Revealed" by Ray Kurzweil
Viking Adult
A real human brain being displayed as part of an exhibition is seen on March 8, 2011 in Bristol, England.
Matt Cardy/Getty Images
Ray Kurzweil speaks on "Singularity" during the RAS Conference 2007 in San Francisco, 07 February 2007.

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Science fiction has long predicted a future where the line is blurry between human and machine, and the results don’t always turn out well for the humans. But there are thinkers among us today who believe that the integration between human and artificial intelligence will not only become a beneficial new reality, but that the event – referred to as the “singularity” – has an arrival date derived by applying the law that technology is progressing at an exponential rate.

Before he became known as a champion of the technological singularity, inventor, author and futurist Ray Kurzweil had already racked up an impressive list of accomplishments, among them being a principal inventor of the first flat-bed optical scanner and the first synthesizer to mimic the grand piano, as well as spearheading significant advances in optical character recognition and text-to-speech synthesizers for the blind. Along the way he has been honored by three presidents, earned nineteen honorary doctorates and written four best-selling books.

Now, Kurzweil has returned with his newest book, “How to Create a Mind,” and it delves deeply into how the latest developments in neuroscience reveals how closely technology is drawing to mimicking human thought patterns. As far as we’ve come with artificial intelligence, Kurzweil believes that by 2030, we won’t just be talking to our phones – we’ll be backing up our biological brains to hard drives and fixing our bodies with nanobots in our blood. How will future technology help or hurt humankind? What ways can artificial intelligence improve our lives?


Ray Kurzweil, inventor, futurist and author of numerous books including "How to Create a Mind: the Secret of Human Thought Revealed" (Viking)

Michael Shermer, founding publisher, Skeptic magazine; Executive Director of the Skeptics Society; monthly columnist for Scientific American; host of the Skeptics Distinguished Science Lecture Series at Caltech; and Adjunct Professor of Economics at Claremont Graduate University