Google has hired Ray Kurzweil as its director of engineering, with the inventor and futurist set to work on "some of the hardest problems in computer science."
In a lengthy statement on his website, he said he would be focus on machine learning and language processing with the search engine giants.
"I've been interested in technology, and machine learning in particular, for a long time: when I was 14, I designed software that wrote original music, and later went on to invent the first print-to-speech reading machine for the blind, among other inventions. I've always worked to create practical systems that will make a difference in people's lives, which is what excites me as an inventor.
"In 1999, I said that in about a decade we would see technologies such as self-driving cars, and mobile phones that could answer your questions, and people criticized these predictions as unrealistic," he added. "Fast-forward a decade -- Google has demonstrated self-driving cars, and people are indeed asking questions of their Android phones. It's easy to shrug our collective shoulders as if these technologies have always been around, but we're really on a remarkable trajectory of quickening innovation, and Google is at the forefront of much of this development."
"I'm thrilled to be teaming up with Google to work on some of the hardest problems in computer science so we can turn the next decade's 'unrealistic' visions into reality."
Google confirmed the appointment and pointed out that Kurzweil's long history of invention would prove to be useful for the company. "Ray's contributions to science and technology, through research in character and speech recognition and machine learning, have led to technological achievements that have had an enormous impact on society," said Peter Norvig, Google's director of research.
Norvig referred to the Kurzweil Reading Machine, which was used by Stevie Wonder and others for having words read aloud to them. "We appreciate his ambitious, long-term thinking, and we think his approach to problem-solving will be incredibly valuable to projects we're working on at Google."