$500,000 Lemelson-MIT Prize Awarded To Futurist Who Makes a Career of Helping Others

- Artificial Intelligence Innovator Raymond Kurzweil

Invented First Reading Machine for the Blind -



Apr 24, 2001, 01:00 ET from Lemelson-MIT Program

    NEW YORK, April 24 /PRNewswire Interactive News Release/ -- The
 Lemelson-MIT Program announced today that its annual $500,000 prize -- the
 world's largest single award for invention and innovation -- is being
 presented to futurist Raymond Kurzweil, a pioneer of pattern recognition
 technologies who has made a career of helping others, while showing a flair
 for integrating technology and the arts.  Over the past 35 years, Kurzweil has
 produced a lengthy list of achievements and innovations that have enriched
 society, including: advancing artificial intelligence (AI) technologies;
 founding, developing and selling four successful companies; and writing two
 best-selling books that support his predictions for the 21st century.
 Kurzweil is being recognized by the Lemelson-MIT Program for the breadth and
 scope of his inventive work, and for his commitment to enhancing the quality
 of life for people with disabilities through technology.
     (Photo:  http://www.newscom.com/cgi-bin/prnh/20010424/NYTU006 )
     Kurzweil is credited with many invention "firsts" that span such diverse
 fields as pattern recognition, speech technology, music and the visual arts.
 These include the first omni-font optical character recognition (OCR) computer
 program; the first print-to-speech reading machine for the blind; the first
 text-to-speech synthesizer; the first electronic musical instrument capable of
 reproducing the sounds of orchestral instruments; and the first
 commercially-marketed large vocabulary speech-recognition system.  Kurzweil's
 latest innovation, a virtual recording and performing artist called "Ramona,"
 represents an advance in virtual reality technology.
     Kurzweil's landmark invention is the Kurzweil Reading Machine, introduced
 in 1976, which converts print to speech.  To date, the Kurzweil Reading
 Machine has made it possible for many thousands of blind people to read the
 text of ordinary books, magazines and other printed documents.  The first
 owner of a Kurzweil Reading Machine was legendary musician Stevie Wonder, who
 contacted Kurzweil after hearing about the device.
     "The Kurzweil Reading Machine was a breakthrough that changed my life,"
 says Wonder, who helped nominate Kurzweil for the $500,000 Lemelson-MIT Prize.
 "With the Kurzweil Reading Machine, I could read anything I wanted with
 complete privacy: music lyrics, letters from my children, the latest best
 sellers and magazines, memos from my business associates. It gave blind people
 the one thing that everyone treasures, which is independence."
     Consequently, it was Kurzweil's friendship with Wonder which led to
 another major innovation: the Kurzweil 250 Synthesizer (K250).  On a tour
 through Wonder's studio in 1982, Kurzweil learned of Wonder's frustrations
 with the current technical limitations that prevented the bridging of
 electronic music composition with the sounds of acoustic instruments.
 Introduced commercially in 1984, the K250 is the first electronic musical
 instrument to emulate, successfully, the complex sound response of a grand
 piano and virtually all other orchestral instruments.
     Currently, one of Kurzweil's projects is Kurzweil Accelerating
 Intelligence Network (http://www.KurzweilAi.net), a Web-based subsidiary of
 Kurzweil Technologies, Inc. (KTI) that showcases ideas of leading
 technologists and "big thinkers."  The main concentration of KurzweilAI.net is
 on the exponential growth of intelligence, both biological and artificial.
 "Ramona," Kurzweil's alter ego and a lifelike, photo-realistic, interactive
 avatar (virtual personality) with conversational abilities, simultaneously
 guides users through KurzweilAI.net and showcases the latest advancements in
 intelligent machines.
     Other KTI companies include:
 
     *     Medical Learning Company (MLC), developer of FamilyPractice.com
           (http://www.FamilyPractice.com), a comprehensive online resource for
           family practice physicians which has also developed a virtual
           patient for use in medical training. MLC is a joint venture between
           KTI and the American Board of Family Practice, the second largest
           medical specialty board in the U.S.
 
     *     Kurzweil CyberArt Technologies (KCAT;
           http://www.KurzweilCyberArt.com) develops and markets artificially
           intelligent software to aid the creative process, including Ray
           Kurzweil's Cybernetic Poet that helps users write poetry and song
           lyrics, and the forthcoming AARON (developed by computer scientist
           and artist, Harold Cohen), which "paints" original art on computer
           screens.
 
     *     FatKat, Inc. (Financial Accelerating Transactions from Kurzweil
           Adaptive Technologies), which is currently developing pattern
           recognition-based technology to make stock market investment
           decisions.
 
     Previous recipients of the annual $500,000 Lemelson-MIT Prize include
 Thomas Fogarty, surgical pioneer and inventor of the embolectomy balloon
 catheter; Carver Mead, physicist who revolutionized the field of
 microelectronics; Robert Langer, inventor of the first FDA-approved brain
 cancer treatment; and Douglas Englebart, computing visionary and inventor of
 the computer mouse.
     Kurzweil will be formally presented with the Lemelson-MIT Prize on
 Wednesday, April 25, at a special ceremony at the Smithsonian's National
 Museum of Natural History in Washington, D.C.  This year, the ceremony will be
 held in conjunction with "Nobel Week," a series of programs honoring the
 centennial of the Nobel Prizes, hosted by the Lemelson Center for the Study of
 Invention and Innovation at the Smithsonian's National Museum of American
 History.
     Kurzweil gratefully acknowledges the role that his creative parents as
 well as his teachers and peers have played in his success as an inventor over
 the years.  "Encouragement is necessary for young inventors to succeed.  It is
 important for kids to realize that they have the authority to explore their
 own ideas and that it is okay to fail," he says.
 
     ABOUT THE LEMELSON-MIT PROGRAM
     Based at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge,
 Massachusetts, the Lemelson-MIT Program was established in 1994 by the late
 independent inventor Jerome H. Lemelson and his wife, Dorothy.  The Program
 celebrates inventor/innovator role models through outreach activities and
 annual awards including the world's largest for invention, the $500,000
 Lemelson-MIT Prize.  The Program encourages young Americans to pursue careers
 in the fields of science, engineering, technology and entrepreneurship.  The
 Lemelson-MIT Program is funded by the Lemelson Foundation, which supports
 other invention initiatives at the Smithsonian's National Museum of American
 History, Hampshire College, the National Collegiate Inventors and Innovators
 Alliance and the University of Nevada, Reno.  For more information about the
 Lemelson-MIT Program, please visit its Web site at http://web.mit.edu/invent.
 
                     MAKE YOUR OPINION COUNT -- Click Here
                http://tbutton.prnewswire.com/prn/11690X63714724
 
 

SOURCE Lemelson-MIT Program
    NEW YORK, April 24 /PRNewswire Interactive News Release/ -- The
 Lemelson-MIT Program announced today that its annual $500,000 prize -- the
 world's largest single award for invention and innovation -- is being
 presented to futurist Raymond Kurzweil, a pioneer of pattern recognition
 technologies who has made a career of helping others, while showing a flair
 for integrating technology and the arts.  Over the past 35 years, Kurzweil has
 produced a lengthy list of achievements and innovations that have enriched
 society, including: advancing artificial intelligence (AI) technologies;
 founding, developing and selling four successful companies; and writing two
 best-selling books that support his predictions for the 21st century.
 Kurzweil is being recognized by the Lemelson-MIT Program for the breadth and
 scope of his inventive work, and for his commitment to enhancing the quality
 of life for people with disabilities through technology.
     (Photo:  http://www.newscom.com/cgi-bin/prnh/20010424/NYTU006 )
     Kurzweil is credited with many invention "firsts" that span such diverse
 fields as pattern recognition, speech technology, music and the visual arts.
 These include the first omni-font optical character recognition (OCR) computer
 program; the first print-to-speech reading machine for the blind; the first
 text-to-speech synthesizer; the first electronic musical instrument capable of
 reproducing the sounds of orchestral instruments; and the first
 commercially-marketed large vocabulary speech-recognition system.  Kurzweil's
 latest innovation, a virtual recording and performing artist called "Ramona,"
 represents an advance in virtual reality technology.
     Kurzweil's landmark invention is the Kurzweil Reading Machine, introduced
 in 1976, which converts print to speech.  To date, the Kurzweil Reading
 Machine has made it possible for many thousands of blind people to read the
 text of ordinary books, magazines and other printed documents.  The first
 owner of a Kurzweil Reading Machine was legendary musician Stevie Wonder, who
 contacted Kurzweil after hearing about the device.
     "The Kurzweil Reading Machine was a breakthrough that changed my life,"
 says Wonder, who helped nominate Kurzweil for the $500,000 Lemelson-MIT Prize.
 "With the Kurzweil Reading Machine, I could read anything I wanted with
 complete privacy: music lyrics, letters from my children, the latest best
 sellers and magazines, memos from my business associates. It gave blind people
 the one thing that everyone treasures, which is independence."
     Consequently, it was Kurzweil's friendship with Wonder which led to
 another major innovation: the Kurzweil 250 Synthesizer (K250).  On a tour
 through Wonder's studio in 1982, Kurzweil learned of Wonder's frustrations
 with the current technical limitations that prevented the bridging of
 electronic music composition with the sounds of acoustic instruments.
 Introduced commercially in 1984, the K250 is the first electronic musical
 instrument to emulate, successfully, the complex sound response of a grand
 piano and virtually all other orchestral instruments.
     Currently, one of Kurzweil's projects is Kurzweil Accelerating
 Intelligence Network (http://www.KurzweilAi.net), a Web-based subsidiary of
 Kurzweil Technologies, Inc. (KTI) that showcases ideas of leading
 technologists and "big thinkers."  The main concentration of KurzweilAI.net is
 on the exponential growth of intelligence, both biological and artificial.
 "Ramona," Kurzweil's alter ego and a lifelike, photo-realistic, interactive
 avatar (virtual personality) with conversational abilities, simultaneously
 guides users through KurzweilAI.net and showcases the latest advancements in
 intelligent machines.
     Other KTI companies include:
 
     *     Medical Learning Company (MLC), developer of FamilyPractice.com
           (http://www.FamilyPractice.com), a comprehensive online resource for
           family practice physicians which has also developed a virtual
           patient for use in medical training. MLC is a joint venture between
           KTI and the American Board of Family Practice, the second largest
           medical specialty board in the U.S.
 
     *     Kurzweil CyberArt Technologies (KCAT;
           http://www.KurzweilCyberArt.com) develops and markets artificially
           intelligent software to aid the creative process, including Ray
           Kurzweil's Cybernetic Poet that helps users write poetry and song
           lyrics, and the forthcoming AARON (developed by computer scientist
           and artist, Harold Cohen), which "paints" original art on computer
           screens.
 
     *     FatKat, Inc. (Financial Accelerating Transactions from Kurzweil
           Adaptive Technologies), which is currently developing pattern
           recognition-based technology to make stock market investment
           decisions.
 
     Previous recipients of the annual $500,000 Lemelson-MIT Prize include
 Thomas Fogarty, surgical pioneer and inventor of the embolectomy balloon
 catheter; Carver Mead, physicist who revolutionized the field of
 microelectronics; Robert Langer, inventor of the first FDA-approved brain
 cancer treatment; and Douglas Englebart, computing visionary and inventor of
 the computer mouse.
     Kurzweil will be formally presented with the Lemelson-MIT Prize on
 Wednesday, April 25, at a special ceremony at the Smithsonian's National
 Museum of Natural History in Washington, D.C.  This year, the ceremony will be
 held in conjunction with "Nobel Week," a series of programs honoring the
 centennial of the Nobel Prizes, hosted by the Lemelson Center for the Study of
 Invention and Innovation at the Smithsonian's National Museum of American
 History.
     Kurzweil gratefully acknowledges the role that his creative parents as
 well as his teachers and peers have played in his success as an inventor over
 the years.  "Encouragement is necessary for young inventors to succeed.  It is
 important for kids to realize that they have the authority to explore their
 own ideas and that it is okay to fail," he says.
 
     ABOUT THE LEMELSON-MIT PROGRAM
     Based at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge,
 Massachusetts, the Lemelson-MIT Program was established in 1994 by the late
 independent inventor Jerome H. Lemelson and his wife, Dorothy.  The Program
 celebrates inventor/innovator role models through outreach activities and
 annual awards including the world's largest for invention, the $500,000
 Lemelson-MIT Prize.  The Program encourages young Americans to pursue careers
 in the fields of science, engineering, technology and entrepreneurship.  The
 Lemelson-MIT Program is funded by the Lemelson Foundation, which supports
 other invention initiatives at the Smithsonian's National Museum of American
 History, Hampshire College, the National Collegiate Inventors and Innovators
 Alliance and the University of Nevada, Reno.  For more information about the
 Lemelson-MIT Program, please visit its Web site at http://web.mit.edu/invent.
 
                     MAKE YOUR OPINION COUNT -- Click Here
                http://tbutton.prnewswire.com/prn/11690X63714724
 
 SOURCE  Lemelson-MIT Program