Raymond Kurzweil has founded four successful businesses, all based on artificial intelligence technology he developed. He pioneered systems for optical character recognition (OCR), text-to-speech synthesis, and speech recognition. He developed the flatbed scanner, and the first electronic keyboard to synthesize the sounds of acoustic instruments.
Today, his scanners and OCR software are standard equipment in the modern office, his synthesizers pervade popular music, his Reading Machines allow the blind to hear the contents of printed matter, and his voice recognition system is used in emergency rooms all over the United States. In 1999, he was awarded the National Medal of Technology by President Clinton.
His bestselling books include The Age of Spiritual Machines and The Singularity Is Near, in which he suggests that developments in artificial intelligence, along with advances in longevity, will permit the extension of human consciousness beyond its present biological limits.