Documenting the Coming Singularity

Thursday, May 06, 2010

Meet Mr. Singularity - Ray Kurzweil

The Boston Phoenix - 5.3.10 (by Chris Faraone)

EVERYTHING UNDER THE SON: Kurzweil dreams up many of his seemingly fantastical inventions at his office in Wellesley Hills. Here, he stands in front of a portrait of his father, Fredric, whom Kurzweil hopes to someday reanimate.

No disrespect to the man who let there be electric light, but Ray Kurzweil is Thomas Alva Edison on steroids.

That might not be evident on a visitor’s first trip to his Kurzweil Technologies, a sleek yet modest office in Wellesley Hills, which is rather ordinary looking for the headquarters of a futurist who’s striving to live forever.

Still, the 62-year-old inventor is aware of the Edison comparisons, and flirts with them himself. In the second-floor lobby of this building overlooking I-95 South is an early 20th century Ediphone — essentially the world’s first tape recorder (as well as a hulking piece of office furniture).

“Edison’s a model of the way I like to work,” says Kurzweil, a lean and tan tech kingpin, who, in his spare time, collaborates with Google co-founder Larry Page on finding feasible ways to convert the whole planet to solar power. “He’s the best example of a saying I like to repeat: ‘Failure is just success deferred.’ Edison didn’t give up [on the light bulb] after a thousand filaments didn’t work, or after a thousand failures. He learned that persistence pays off. People actually declare their own failures — they give up at some point. But if you have the right goal — if you persist with it, and the goal is worth pursuing — then generally you can succeed.”

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