Library Journal | Summit on e-books draws over 2100 attendees: opening keynote by futurist Ray Kurzweil

October 1, 2010

Library Journal — October 1, 2010

This is a summary. Read original article in full here.

[…] The summit’s opening keynote speaker was inventor and futurist Ray Kurzweil (pictured), author of The Singularity Is Near, who gave attendees a view from 30,000 feet of the impact of the technological revolution. Asserting that technological change is exponential, he said that “we won’t experience 100 years of progress in the 21st century,” but “more like 20,000 years of progress.” Ultimately, he said, we will make smarter machines that emulate the human brain, as well as expand human intelligence through the intersection of biology and information technology.

Kurzweil gave a brief demo of Blio, the free e-reading software he developed with KNFB Reading Technology in partnership with Baker & Taylor that preserves “the rich, graphical nature of books” by enabling video and enhanced text-to-speech (TTS) capability.

Kurzweil, who has been in the reading field since 1975, was the principal developer of the first TTS reading machine for the blind. That machine was the size of a washing machine. Now, he pointed out, we have ebooks that fit into our pockets.

He reminded attendees that some of his current predictions might sound as “wild, way out” there as his Futurecast columns when they first appeared in LJ, in 1992-93. In those columns, he wrote that downloadable ebooks would be “a mainstream library service” in the first decade of this century and posited not only “virtual books” but the “virtual library.” […]