IT growth and global change: A conversation with Ray Kurzweil

| Interview

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.