Home Overview Press Room Blog Publications For Students about us
Search

By Hiring Kurzweil, Google Just Killed the Singularity

Thank God.

by John PavlusMIT Technology Review
December 17th, 2012

Baloney that Ray Kurzweil will no longer have time for.

Late last Friday, Google announced a jaw-dropping hire: Ray Kurzweil will join the company as a Director of Engineering. Has the world’s brainiest tech company suddenly bought into Kurzweil’s “technological singularity” ideas? Hardly. They’ve just signed The Singularity’s death warrant by putting its chief proselytizer to work doing what he does best: inventing better machines for the real world, not writing science fiction. For this, Larry Page should get some kind of medal.

Ray Kurzweil is a genius inventor. His contributions to machine learning (including optical character recognition and speech synthesis) have literally changed the world–and helped make some of Google’s own computational feats possible. But as an author and “futurist,” Kurzweil is more like a sci-fi Deepak Chopra, spinning inspirational techno-fantasies about immortality, artificial intelligence, and consciousness that drive scientists and engineers batty while driving his speaking fees ever upward. Even Douglas Hofstadter–another technical genius unafraid of grappling with the big questions of mind and machines in the popular press–literally compared Kurzweil’s futurist thinking to “dog excrement.”

Google’s army of nerds undoubtedly finds concepts like The Singularity exhilarating. But when Google sets its hive mind on something Singularity-esque like self-driving cars, it attacks the problem by researching, testing, and building–not by arguing how many artificially intelligent angels might be programmed to dance on the head of a pin. Data, engineering, and repeatable results are Google’s religion. If Kurzweil wants to put his ideas into action there, he’ll have no choice but to get real about them.

I have no doubt that he will. And the results, given Kurzweil’s powers as an engineer and inventor, may just change the world all over again. So good riddance, Singularity. Google–and a newly purpose-driven Kurzweil–can take it from here.



This site contains copyrighted material the use of which has not always been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. We are making such material available in our efforts to advance understanding of biotechnology and public policy issues. We believe this constitutes a 'fair use' of any such copyrighted material as provided for in section 107 of the US Copyright Law. In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, the material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. For more information go to: http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/17/107.shtml. If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond 'fair use', you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.


ESPAÑOL | PORTUGUÊS | Русский

home | overview | blog | publications| about us | donate | newsletter | press room | privacy policy

CGS • 1936 University Ave, Suite 350, Berkeley, CA 94704 • • (p) 1.510.665.7760 • (F) 1.510.665.8760