Insights & Publications

Interview

IT growth and global change: A conversation with Ray Kurzweil

The inventor, businessman, and author explains how the exponential growth of technologies will transform industries and pose new opportunities—and hurdles—for business and society.

January 2011

Every executive recognizes the fast pace of technological development but grapples with the billion-dollar question: what happens next, and when? Ray Kurzweil has precise answers based on his thesis that information technology will continue to develop exponentially, leading to a not-so-distant future when artificial intelligence dominates our daily lives, genes can be reprogrammed away from cancer, and solar power can provide the world with all the energy it needs.

Some observers describe Kurzweil’s predictions as science fiction, and some academics question his underlying thesis. Yet the well-argued theories of this best-selling author, serial inventor, and recipient of honors (from three US presidents) have not gone ignored. Kurzweil not only has a growing band of followers among technology executives but also has advised the US Army on responses to biological terrorism and the US and Israeli governments on renewable energy.

Kurzweil spoke with McKinsey Publishing’s Lars Föyen about the basis for his predictions, how industries will change when they come to pass, and the double-edged nature of his vision.

Video

IT growth and global change: A conversation with Ray Kurzweil

The inventor, businessman, and author explains how the exponential growth of technologies will transform industries and pose new opportunities—and hurdles—for business and society.

Related articles

clbi10_frth_Thumbnail
article

Clouds, big data, and smart assets: Ten tech-enabled business trends to watch

August 2010—Advancing technologies and their swift adoption are upending traditional business models. Senior executives need to think strategically about how to prepare their organizations for the challenging new environment.more

Personalized medicine An interview with Esther Dyson
interview

Personalized medicine: An interview with Esther Dyson

June 2009—Esther Dyson says we can expect to see a lot of changes in the personalization of health and health data.more

  • includes:
    •  
Evaluating the potential of solar technologies
article

Evaluating the potential of solar technologies

September 2009—Solar power is poised to grow into a reliable alternative energy source, promising lower carbon emissions and decreased dependence on fossil fuels. What technologies are currently jostling for leadership in the market?more

  • includes:
    •  
Electrifying cars How three industries will evolve
article

Electrifying cars: How three industries will evolve

June 2009—Upon entering the mainstream—in a few years or a couple of decades—electrified cars will transform the auto and utilities sectors and create a new battery industry. What will it take to win in a battery-powered age?more

About this content

The material on this page draws on the research and experience of McKinsey consultants and other sources. To learn more about our expertise, please visit the Strategy Practice.