Occupation: Inventor, futurist
Previous TIME 100 appearances: 0
Already a certified genius in high school, Kurzweil sold his first software company in college and went on to beget an almost Edisonian brood of useful inventions that have earned him millions. But it's as a theoretical historian of humanity's future that he's having his broadest influence. Kurzweil is a prophet of the Singularity, a scenario in which computers evolve into powerful artificial intelligences that will, somewhere around the mid21st century, refashion their human creators into living godlings. The Singularity is too weird an idea to be truly mainstream, but Kurzweil's measured, data-rich arguments have earned it a surprisingly solid following among the technointelligentsia, including Google co-founder Larry Page.