What Could Be…

Inventor and futurist Ray Kurzweil sat in his office late last week, confidently spinning scenarios with timelines that stretched to 2020, 2030, and beyond, according to The Boston Globe.

But the near-future was also on his mind: WorldFuture 2010, the annual conference organized by the World Future Society, scheduled for July 8-10 at the Westin Boston Waterfront hotel. Kurzweil will deliver a keynote address at the event.

“It’s very refreshing talking to people who’ve gotten beyond a sort of first-level surprise at what the future might hold,’’ he said.

Kurzweil is probably the best-known futurist on the roster, though he considers himself “an inventor first and foremost.’’ He said that early in his career he realized “timing was important to the success of an invention, so I came up with a methodology that could say something about the future so that I could time my own inventions.’’

Now he makes projections about what the world will be like in 10, 20, or 30 years, “so I can invent and write about things for 2020 and 2030.’’

His method has led to a number of notable successes: a reading machine for the blind, an early music synthesizer, and speech-recognition products. He is working on e-reading software called Blio, as well as a computerized hedge fund.

Along the way, Kurzweil has published widely on artificial intelligence and life extension.

At the conference, he plans to talk about “how information technology grows exponentially, not linearly,’’ and his forthcoming book on “reverse engineering the brain,’’ titled “How the Mind Works and How to Build One.’’

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