Today futurist Ray Kurzweil announced that he has joined Google. According to a post on Kurzweil's site, he will serve as a Director of Engineering starting this Monday, December 17th, and will be focused on both machine learning and the company's language processing efforts. In the post, Kurzweil writes that "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."
In his 1998 book The Age of Spiritual Machines Kurzweil made many predictions about where technology would lead over the ensuing decade. While some criticized him for not being entirely accurate in his timeline, Kurzweil did raise many concepts that we are now seeing emerge — including ones that we have seen Google take the lead on such as self-driving cars. While it's not clear if Kurzweil will be contributing immediately to any consumer-facing products, the hire is yet another sign of Google's continued focus on bringing things that were once considered science-fiction fantasy to life.