Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Ray Kurzweil Documentary Will Play at Tribeca Film Fest

The documentary 'Transcendent Man,' about the futurist, inventor, and entrepreneur Ray Kurzweil, will play next month at the Tribeca Film Festival.

Here's the trailer:

Another Kurzweil-related movie, 'The Singularity is Near,' will be out in June. That's one that Kurzweil is producing himself, based on his book and co-starring his digital alter-ago, Ramona. (I wrote about it back in 2007.)

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Sunday, October 26, 2008

A Portable Eye: Ray Kurzweil's KNFB Reader Mobile

It was great fun earlier this month to have lunch with Peter Alan Smith, a John Hancock employee who is also a gadget hound. Smith showed me how he uses the KNFB Reader Mobile software on his Nokia N82 cell phone to read restaurant menus and other printed material. (Smith is legally blind... and he has also run the Boston Marathon a couple times...and raced tandem bikes.)

This excellent assistive technology is the focus of today's Globe column.

As some bonus material, here's the MP3 of my conversation with Ray Kurzweil about the Reader Mobile... and his history of developing technologies for the blind and visually impaired that eventually "trickle down" to the rest of us.

Smith has a Web site of his own.

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Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Wired Mag on Ray Kurzweil (and His Forthcoming Movie)

The current issue of Wired profiles Massachusetts inventor, entrepreneur, and life-extension enthusiast Ray Kurzweil. Gary Wolf writes, "He takes 180 to 210 vitamin and mineral supplements a day, so many that he doesn't have time to organize them all himself. So he's hired a pill wrangler, who takes them out of their bottles and sorts them into daily doses, which he carries everywhere in plastic bags."

The story also offers some details about Kurzweil's forthcoming movie:

    To press his case, Kurzweil is writing and producing an autobiographical movie, with walk-ons by Alan Dershowitz and Tony Robbins. Kurzweil appears in two guises, as himself and as an intelligent computer named Ramona, played by an actress. Ramona has long been the inventor's virtual alter ego and the expression of his most personal goals. "Women are more interesting than men," he says, "and if it's more interesting to be with a woman, it is probably more interesting to be a woman." He hopes one day to bring Ramona to life, and to have genuine human experiences, both with her and as her. Kurzweil has been married for 32 years to his wife, Sonya Kurzweil. They have two children — one at Stanford University, one at Harvard Business School. "I don't necessarily only want to be Ramona," he says. "It's not necessarily about gender confusion, it's just about freedom to express yourself."

    Kurzweil's movie offers a taste of the drama such a future will bring. Ramona is on a quest to attain full legal rights as a person. She agrees to take a Turing test, the classic proof of artificial intelligence, but although Ramona does her best to masquerade as human, she falls victim to one of the test's subtle flaws: Humans have limited intelligence. A computer that appears too smart will fail just as definitively as one that seems too dumb. "She loses because she is too clever!" Kurzweil says.

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Saturday, July 28, 2007

Ray Kurzweil Planning His Silver Screen Debut

Coming soon to a theater near you: Ray Kurzweil and his alter ego, Ramona.

Futurist and inventor Kurzweil is working on a movie version of his latest book, "The Singularity is Near." It'll combine interviews with big thinkers like Marvin Minsky with a narrative about Ramona (Kurzweil's foxy female alter ego) crusading to earn respect and recognition for artificially-intelligent beings.

Here's the plot summary from the Internet Movie Database (written by Kurzweil's pal Martine Rothblatt, who is the pic's executive producer):

    The brilliant inventor Ray Kurzweil creates a computer avatar named Ramona (Pauley Perrette). He raises her like a modern-day Pinocchio, and she gradually acquires consciousness. Ramona detects a secret attempt by microscopic robots to destroy the world, but her warnings are ignored by everyone because she is not recognized as a person. Her computerized nature lets her stop the robot attack but lands her in trouble with the law.

The tagline is "A True Story About the Future." Kurzweil is hoping for a theatrical release next year.

(Here's some background on Ramona.)

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