The Washington Post | MeriTalk tech conference brings public and private sectors together

March 1, 2010

The Washington Post — March 1, 2010 | Mike Musgrove

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

To make some sense of technology’s rapid advances, MeriTalk reached for a Big Thinker, the inventor and futurist Ray Kurzweil:

“Part of my mission here will be to broaden the perspective of these IT directors,” he said. “It’s not just routers and cloud computing. We really are transforming all the things we care about with information technology.”

As areas of study such as health intersect with technology, they also take place in the same sort of “Moore’s Law,” which means the kind of growth that has seen computer chips double their capacity every other year. The progress of science will not be “linear,” to use one of his common assertions. It will be exponential.

“It’s important that people in government understand this perspective,” Kurzweil said. “People have seen a lot of change, but when they think about the future their imagination leaves them. They think their smartphone is going to be smaller, maybe have a few more apps.”



The Democratization of Innovation in an Era of Accelerating Technologies

The democratization of innovation is a turbulent process. Rapid creation and violent destruction. Many winners and many losers, both big and small. Are there patterns of success in the chaos? Ray Kurzweil definitely thinks so. He has been on the bleeding edge of innovation for decades and his track record is something to admire. Ray was the principal developer of the first CCD flat-bed scanner, the first omni-font optical character recognition, the first print-to-speech reading machine for the blind, the first text-to-speech synthesizer, the first music synthesizer capable of recreating the grand piano and other orchestral instruments, and the first commercially-marketed, large-vocabulary speech recognition.

Ray is an ardent student of technology trends and had developed mathematical models of how technology in different areas evolves. These models show that the pace of innovation itself is doubling every decade. As information technology achieves each new level of price-performance and capacity, new applications become feasible and existing business models lose their viability. The rate of change is now so rapid that even three- to five-year business plans need to consider that every level of an industry will undergo major changes during that period. Ray will talk about the democratization of innovation in an era of accelerating technologies and how this will impact business, the economy, and society.