Ray Kurzweil on the exponential progression of technology at the B.C. Tech Summit

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      The idea of being in the presence of genius is completely redefined once you've occupied the same space as the great Ray Kurzweil.

      The author, inventor, and futurist—referred to by the Wall Street Journal as "the restless genius" and Forbes as "the ultimate thinking machine"—was a keynote speaker on Monday (January 18) at the inaugural B.C. Tech Summit. 

      Kurzweil is responsible for inventing the first CCD flatbed scanner, the first omni-font optical character recognition, the first print-to-speech reading machine for the blind, the first text-to-speech synthesizer, and the first music synthesizer capable of recreating the grand piano and other orchestral instruments, among others. He is a recipient of the National Medal of Technology, and he was recently honoured with a Grammy award for his contributions to the field of music technology. He is also the director of engineering at Google. Talk about a loaded resume.

      Ray Kurzweil at the B.C. Tech Summit on Monday (January 18).
      Amanda Siebert

      Among his list of best-selling books are 1990's The Age of Intelligent Machines, 1999's The Age of Spiritual Machines, 2005's The Singularity is Near, and 2012's How to Create a Mind: The Secret of Human Thought Revealed. During the first five minutes of his keynote speech on Monday, Kurzweil discussed the idea behind his 2001 essay, The Law of Accelerating Returns, as it pertains to information technology.

      "Not everything is predictable, but if you track the price performance and capacity—not of everything, and not of every technology, but of information technology—they form exquisitely predictable trajectories," said Kurzweil. "That trajectory is exponential, not linear."

      He went on to explain why in 25 years, we could expect to see computers on the market that are "about the size of a blood cell".

      Watch the video below to hear part of Kurzweil's keynote.

      Ray Kurzweil discusses the law of accelerating returns at the inaugural B.C. Tech Summit on January 18.
      Amanda Siebert