For those who follow the post-human movement and anything Singularity related, inventor Ray Kurzweil is a constant wellspring of fascinating analysis and information-backed predictions. Now it looks like Kurzweil is getting his "Locutus of Borg" moment as he has recently announced that he will be joining the Google.
Kurzweil's first day of work as the company's new Director of Engineering begins today, at the company's Mountain View, California headquarters. His exact duties remain unclear, but it's likely that — after he signs off on a mountain of confidentiality agreements — his first order of business will be to get a look at the crazy stuff the company has cooking in the Google X lab.
Posting the announcement on his personal site, Kurzweil said, "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. Fast forward a decade — Google has demonstrated self-driving cars, and people are indeed asking questions of their Android phones 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."
The choice of Kurzweil as Google's latest technological muse makes perfect sense if you've paid attention to recent comments from Google Executive Chairman and former CEO Eric Schmidt. In an interview earlier this year discussing Google's automated cars, Schmidt said, "It's really an error that we're allowed to drive the car." And, in an earlier interview, Schmidt said, "I actually think most people don't want Google to answer their questions They want Google to tell them what they should be doing next."
This handing over of our lives to a cloud of machine intelligence and automation matches perfectly with Kurzweil's vision of a future populated by computer-enhanced humans (Google Glass, anyone?) and a near-omniscient hive mind (try Google Voice for an early example).
And while some have dismissed Kurzweil's life extension strategies and discussion of the Singularity as science fictional fluff, Google's decision to bring him on board has suddenly heaped a lot more credibility on a technology visionary who had already earned the right to be taken seriously.