The renowned and provocative futurist is not only predicting our techno-future but also helping to create it. Ray Kurzweil, 62, launched Singularity University with X Prize founder Peter Diamandis, based on the themes in Kurzweil's best seller The Singularity Is Near and backed by Google's Larry Page and the NASA Ames Research Center. The mission: to educate young entrepreneurs on the latest in such hot fields as artificial intelligence, biotech, and nanotech—and then focus them on "the major challenges of humanity," Kurzweil says, including climate change and sustainable energy. "Only the scale of these exponentially growing technologies will be able to address these challenges." Four projects begun by the first graduates of the 10-week program last year are on the verge of becoming startups.