• 04.01.05

60 Seconds with Ray Kurzweil

Futurist and inventor Ray Kurzweil has been alive 56 years. In that time, he has invented a reading machine for the blind, built orchestra-quality music synthesizers, and pioneered speech-recognition technology. His book Fantastic Voyage (Rodale Books, 2004) offers a peek at what he will do with the time he has left. Which is to say, forever.

Fast Company: Would you want to be immortal if the opportunity presented itself?


Ray Kurzweil: I think the opportunity is presenting itself. Our mortality is something that should be in our hands. It’s something I want in my hands. I believe we’ll demonstrate a mouse that doesn’t age within about a decade. And we’ll translate that into human therapies.

FC: CEOs will never give up their jobs. There won’t be any succession plans.

Kurzweil: I don’t think we need to kill people off to provide opportunity for new leadership and creativity. The marketplace of ideas and technologies is going to expand — it has for years.

FC: How is society going to support the cost of all those people?

Kurzweil: We’ll be creating a great deal of wealth. Not just in dollars, but also in what one can buy. Go out to 2020: What you can buy in terms of information for a dollar will be quite vast. With nanotechnology, we’ll turn information into a wide range of products — including food — with very inexpensive materials.

FC: Nanofood?


Kurzweil: The killer app is nanobots. They’ll make sure our bloodstream has the nutrients it needs regardless of what we eat. We’ll disconnect the sensual and social pleasures of eating from the biochemical task of keeping an optimum set of nutrients in our bloodstream.

FC: You’re working on a product to predict changes in the stock market.

Kurzweil: The concept is applying my field, pattern recognition, to the market. We’ve been trading with real cash for two years. We make 80% to 90% annual gains. This year, we plan to launch a hedge fund.

FC: What would you like to be in 100 years?

Kurzweil: A successful 25-year-old female rock singer.

FC: Mind blowing.


Kurzweil: Certainly mind expanding.