Futurist and Inventor Ray Kurzweil Launches RIT’s 2008-2009 Gannett Series

Pioneer in development of artificial intelligence will discuss the future of innovation

Ray Kurzweil, inventor, entrepreneur and futurist who is a key innovator in the development of artificial intelligence and radical life extension, kicks off the 2008-09 Caroline Werner Gannet Project at Rochester Institute of Technology on Sept. 17. Kurzweil will present “The Singularity is the Near: When Humans Transcend Biology,” an adaptation of his best selling novel of the same name, which is also being made into a motion picture.

According to Mary Lynn Broe, Gannett Professor of Humanities and director of the Gannett Project: “Ray Kurzweil is a real visionary, one of the leading voices in predicting the impact of accelerating technology on health, longevity, invention and business in our 21st century. We are delighted to have this ‘restless genius’ speak at RIT.”

Kurzweil is a pioneer in the fields of optical character recognition, text-to-speech synthesis and speech recognition technology. He invented the CCD flatbed scanner and the Kurzweil Reading Machine for the blind, the first omni font, optical character recognition system. He has started 10 companies, including Kurzweil Computer Products, which was purchased by Xerox, and authored five books.

As a futurist, Kurzweil correctly predicted the explosion of the Internet and the use of computerized, intelligent weapons systems. He is a member of the National Inventors Hall of Fame and received the National Medal of Technology from President Bill Clinton in 1999.

The Caroline Werner Gannett Project was created in 2006 to explore new intersections of the sciences, technologies, social sciences and humanities for the educational and cultural enhancement of RIT students and the broader Rochester community. The Project brings in noted scholars, authors and artists for a series of lectures, colloquia and workshops related to innovations across different disciplines. An elective course, “Visionaries in Motion,” will be offered in 2008-09 in conjunction with the series through RIT’s College of Liberal Arts and the Honors Program.

“The new course, open to students at all levels, is a rare opportunity to learn more about and interview a slate of world-renowned scholars and artists who will visit RIT this year as part of Gannett’s ‘Visionaries in Motion’ series,” adds Broe.

For more information about the Caroline Werner Gannet Project, including a full listing of the 2008-09 schedule visit www.cwgp.org. All Gannett events are free and open to the public.


WHAT: Kick Off Event of the 2008-09 Caroline Werner Gannett Project

WHO: Ray Kurzweil

WHEN: 7 p.m. Sept. 17, 2008

WHERE: Gordon Field House and Activities Center, RIT Campus

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