back to article Ray Kurzweil to become Google's top engineer

Futurist, artificial intelligence expert and inventor Ray Kurzweil will join Google as a director of engineering. Kurzweil's profile is such that it was he – and not his new employer – who announced the new gig, and on his own web site to boot. Google is so far silent on the reasons for Kurzweil's appointment, but the new …


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  1. J. R. Hartley

    Your foster parents are dead.

  2. PJ 3

    I wonder if ...

    Google will pursue a concept like The Billion Node Cloud ?

    By actually paying people involved in their cloud architecture/infrastructure, it might make them less evil in the eyes of the world. Maybe. Ray would get the concept, but will others in the Googleplex ?

    1. Frumious Bandersnatch

      Re: I wonder if ...

      re: billion node cloud...

      You keep mentioning that here. Care to mention how it fares in the face of Amdahl's Law?

      1. PJ 3

        Re: I wonder if ...

        Conceptually, it would be similar to any other cloud environment relative to Amdahl's Law. However, it would initially be "slower" in the aggregate because of mobile bandwidth constraints compared to existing cloud infrastructure that uses high-speed networking. That said, if you understand virtualization and PaaS it is easy to see use cases where Amdahl's Law concepts are less relevant and moves more in the direction of Gustafson's Law. What if the Billion Node Cloud were one monstrous PaaS environment? Plop an application on a humongous grid and let it run cheaply. In the end, yes, the entire concept is large and complex with a wide variety of intersecting points of applicability for use cases where some applications are not suitable for the environment, but a very broad range of uses are applicable. Further, since this is a futuristic view of computing, software will be developed that takes better advantage of the overall compute environment and makes it more efficient. It will happen. The major two unknowns are when and how?

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Intelligent, technical people don't always make good management or leaders. While they understand the technology they just aren't always very good with people.

    To be honest, someone of his calibre is wasted up there doing the boring crap like daily ops, project plans etc.

    1. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge

      There was a Battlestar Galactica episode about that kind of problem....

  4. tempemeaty

    The robot AI in your text?

    Advanced word search algorithms not good enough anymore? Maybe Google seeks out more intelligent ways of sifting through all the email text of ours to find what they want. Another need the have is for more advanced reading of language. Google translate is frequently unable to fix proper context to words. Higher machine intelligence could give it that. It could even process and prompt for additional context data before determining a translation.

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    That name rings a bell

    Is this the same Raymond Kurzweil who founded Kurzweil Music Systems? Any relation to Jeremiah Kurzweil, 19th century sheep fancier, choir master and inventor? Perhaps music runs in the family.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: That name rings a bell

      Not sure about the connection to a sheep fancier, but it's definitely the same Kurzweil as the one who created the music systems. Never understood the fascination myself - loads of people raved about how realistic the acoustic instrument emulations sounded compared to a synthesiser. Well duh, that was because the Kurzweil was a sampler not a synthesiser, and not as good or as affordable as an E-mu.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: That name rings a bell

        He pioneered text-to-speech and speech recognition applications, amongst a zillion other things - Kurzweil Music Systems was just for light relief - his first sampler-synthesiser was made to win a bet with Stevie Wonder.

        Probs avoid the flick, but most everything else he's ever done is both impressive and interesting.

    2. A Long Fellow

      Re: That name rings a bell

      I can confirm the music connection -- I saw Ray Kurzweil speaking at a "synthesis pioneers" roundtable discussion at Berklee in the early 1990s. After the Young-Chang buyout, many of the brains went to Berklee, where they had a lab full of K250 rackmounts for sampling classes. Finding zero-crossings for loop points was a bit... um... nightmarish. On the other hand, those output smoothing filters were soooooooooo warm. No quantizing grit on long instrument tails here, no indeed.

      There were other samplers at the time, but Kurzweil absolutely WAS one of the best. Their first instrument, the K250, was much cheaper than either the NED Synclavier or the Fairlight. For sheer sound quality (to my ears) Kurzweil blew away anything from Emu, Roland, Akai, and Yamaha well into the 90s. I owned a Roland S-550 and loved editing with it, but there was no other choice than the Kurzweil when it was time for acoustic work.

      Google has gained a fine mind.

  6. Notas Badoff

    Cue the Googlumpers

    They always accuse Google of stealing their personal data to sell more ads, that they were the product. Now with Kurzweil helping them, when the Googlularity comes, they will be the product and the ad fused into one.

  7. Shannon Jacobs

    Symbolic appointment to hide the evil?

    No offense to Kurzweil, who I basically regard as a good fellow, but I think the google hired him for cosmetic reasons. Not sure how much they're paying him, but I doubt he actually has to do anything for the money.

    Meanwhile the google will continue pumping money into its lobbying operations in Washington of the DC. It used to be true that the google was just evolving in response to the corrupt rules of the business game as written by the most cheaply bribed politicians. However, the google is now paying to write those rules. Last reports I've read insist that the google is the biggest lobbyist among high-tech companies. Have you noticed a trend towards less corruption? Me neither.

    1. Ilgaz

      Re: Symbolic appointment to hide the evil?

      I don't think Kurzweil is liked by everyone especially by religious /conservative circles.

      1. Sorry that handle is already taken. Silver badge

        Re: Religious/conservative circles?

        He tends to piss off scientists in fields in which he is not an expert by making sweeping statements that have no basis in observable reality too.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Symbolic appointment to hide the evil?

      Google out of all the big boys are the least evil, by a VERY large margin. They donate alot of projects to the open community, and you get ALOT of stuff for your personal details (compared to say Facebook that gives you fuckall), they don't invest billions into viral marketing hate campaigns against their competitors like Microsoft, or drag everyone though the courts on lame patents like Apple... All their patent acquisitions are for defense, and aren't being actively used to attack (again, unlike Microsoft and Apple).

      An example of Google's Do No Evil... Try searching Google for "suicide", and do the same on Bing and Yahoo....

      It's all those little things...

      1. Turtle

        Re: Symbolic appointment to hide the evil?

        "Google out of all the big boys are the least evil, by a VERY large margin."

        Google is in a class of its own.

        Google is much, much worse than any other major tech company. Witness the money they made by financing the sale of controlled and counterfeit medicines by means of their AdWords program. They financed the sites conducting these drug sales for years, in spite of any number of warnings, including a letter from Joseph Califono, Secretary for Health And Human Services for President Jimmy Carter. Eventually they agreed to disgorge $500,000,000 in return for a federal non-prosecution agreement. They finance mail-order brides and other human-trafficking sites. Need I even add that they make money by financing pirate sites enabling the theft of content and software? Don't forget the "Google Books Affair" by which they hoped to be able to strip copyright protection from whatever books they wanted. Google has suborned institutions such as Harvard and Stanford by managing to enlist academics there to lobby for Google's legislative agendas in return for large donations of Google money. And their legislative agenda, which favors expropriating content creators for the benefit of people who are *already* billionaires, can only be described as "fascist". Their invasions of the privacy of the users of Google services, and constant surveillance of anyone who uses the internet, should be well-known to everyone who frequents this site.

        And this list is by no means complete! There's the matter of White House Deputy CTO Andrew McLaughlin, caught illegally consulting his former employers, Google. There's the Google WarDriving Data-Slurp Scandal, in which their Street View cars intercepted and recording data on whatever private networks they were able.

        And of course when you look for songs, or movies, or books, or news stories, Google downranks sites with paid content and upranks sites with free content - even when that "free" content is really pirated content. Because some people think that only Google should be able to make money from content. Oddly, that group of people included people who are not Google shareholders or Google employees with stock options.

        Google has no problem lying to Senate committees, such as when Eric Schmidt, surrounded by a phalanx of lawyers, falsely claimed that he was enjoined from discussing the non-prosecution agreement reached with the Justice Department in the Google Drugs Scandal, by the terms of that agreement...

        And this is not an exhaustive listing, by any means!

        Well go here and read some of this guy's articles: or go to and type "Google" in the search field and see what comes up.


        And here's another point. The Microsoft-hatred dates from a time when people felt that a hash of your hardware which revealed no personal or personally-identifying information, sent to Microsoft to validate an installation of Windows, was an intolerable invasion of personal privacy. NOW, Canonical is sending all your search queries to Amazon to serve you ads when you look for files on your own computer, and Google feels perfectly free to examine the contents of your files and constantly change their privacy policy to give their users ever less privacy; EA, for example, states in their EULA (for games, bear in mind) that installing the game gives EA the right to list the contents of your hard drive and sell that information to third parties; Facebook - well, really, they will collect whatever information they can and sell whatever they can, to whatever advertisers they can.

        Microsoft, on this background, begins too look positively benign. Apple too - and I am no fan of Apple, but they are not inveterate thieves like Google. And Google steals from *everyone* - whether it's multi-billion dollar tech companies, or some kids who put a band together and record some music - and everyone in between.

        "they don't invest billions (sic) into viral marketing hate campaigns against their competitors like Microsoft"

        Well read the Google Shills List given to Judge Posner, and the output of some of Google anti-copyright lackeys and the anti-copyright organizations that Google funds, and tell me with a straight face that Google is not running a hate-campaign of their own. Oh, and did Google object when Samsung ran their anti-Apple ads or were Google okay with anything that helps them collect more Android users? Not that I know about...

        "All their patent acquisitions are for defense" and yet Google has invested in patent trolls, like Intellectual Ventures, Inc. (Amusing point: the Wikipedia article states that Transmeta sold their IP to Intellectual Ventures. I wonder how much money Torvalds made from that.)

        Google doesn't "drag everyone though the courts on lame patents like Apple" - but attempting to collect billions of dollars on FRAND-encumbered patents is okay? And if Google is successful in extorting billions by means of their FRAND-encumbered patents, do you think that they too won't immediately begin to drag everyone through the courts too? Oh but it doesn't matter because Google gives you "lots" for your data, right? Oh, and also because they contribute to the FOSS movement. The only thing "lame" here is your outlook on the value of life, the value of creative work, and the value of privacy

        On this background, Microsoft-bashing looks quaint and outdated. And both intellectually and morally dishonest.

        But really, the main point is, the Google is in a class of its own...

  8. autodidaktos

    protecting it and copyrighting it

    Marvin Minsky called Ray Kurtzweil [sp] really annoying...Said he would not open his research to other lab members...Should fit in well under Eric-If you`ve done nothing wrong ,you have nothing to fear from our sniffing-Schmidt.

    Charles Babbage Institute Arthur Norberg interview.1989

  9. amanfromMars 1 Silver badge

    A QuITe Titanic Colossus in Mind Control Engineering/Virtual Machine Maintenance and Race Tuning

    This page and its comments ..... ..... tell more than just a little of what now is, and what is yet to be in Virtualising Fields of Intelligence Search.

    And are El Regers aware of the Future's Path according to the Forbin Project?

    They do say truth is stranger than fiction, but IT is certainly no stranger to it.

  10. Turtle


    Kurzweil is ignorance personified. He has a narrow area of expertise but likes to venture far afield, into waters much deeper than he is capable of understanding. See for example PZ Myers' (a loud-mouth atheist for those who need to know) views of Kurzweil's ideas regarding biology.

    And the clever thing about the doctrine of the Technological Singularity is that it makes every other form of eschatology look respectable.

    I wonder how many hundreds of pills per day he's been taking lately, and when he's finally going to resurrect his father as a computer program - or whatever it is that he's trying to do.

    As a technologist looking for justification of some sort of spirituality, he's kind of pathetic.

    1. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge

      Re: Kurzweil

      So he's like the MARX of ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE?

      But he has 19 PhDs!

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Kurzweil

        More like the McAfee rather than the Marx of artificial intelligence..

  11. -tim

    Is he too old for Google?

    Google doesn't have a good track record with people of his age group with a few age discrimination law suits in the past and Ray is just a bit older than Brian Reid.

  12. Anonymous Coward

    I wanna be a futurist too...

    ...cos I don't currently get paid for talking out of my arse.

  13. Rob Crawford

    He may know what he is doing in his field

    but it is a pity that he seems to spend all his time talking about things which he knows fuck all about.

    1. amanfromMars 1 Silver badge

      Re: He may know what he is doing in his field

      He may know what he is doing in his field but it is a pity that he seems to spend all his time talking about things which we know fuck all about.

      There, .... fixed that for you, Rob.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: He may know what he is doing in his field

        @amanfrommars 1 - What's this 'we', white boy ?

  14. The Alpha Klutz

    i am smarter than all of these people

    google is begging me to work for them

  15. JeffyPooh

    Is this the same guy that *just* had an argument with Paul Allen?

    Kurzweil has a public argument with Paul Allen, and then a few days later he's hired by Google.

    Hey Paul Allen! You're wrong. Wrong wrong wrong!!! ... .:waiting for job offer:.

  16. beirtipol


    Given the 3rd person nature of the article, I went to check what he listed about himself under contributors. Look who I found in the 'k' section.

  17. Anonymous Coward

    Self driving cars and virtual assistants may have been predicted by Ray but it seems it was Google that actually made them a reality. They did all that without him so I wonder why they feel they need him now?

    I must admit I find the the 'singularity' a seductive concept and Kurzweil an interesting person but another part of me sees him as a typical 1970's hairy future-doofus who may have dropped one too many tabs.

    I guess we'll know one way or the other pretty soon.

  18. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    No worries here

    Look, if anything ends up emerging from the Google/Kurzweil marriage, you can guarantee it will only be what the "Mysterious They" want and the rest of us will just be along for the ride as usual.

    That is all.

    1. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge
      Big Brother

      Re: No worries here

      I sure hope it won't emerge from the Googleplex like a bad idea emerging from the mind of a green lieutenant.

  19. Katie Saucey

    To quote Bender, "We're boned".

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