Ray Kurzweil is one of the world’s leading inventors, thinkers, and futurists, with a thirty-year track record of accurate predictions. Called “the restless genius” by The Wall Street Journal and “the ultimate thinking machine” by Forbes magazine, Kurzweil was selected as one of the top entrepreneurs by Inc. magazine, which described him as the “rightful heir to Thomas Edison.” PBS selected him as one of the “sixteen revolutionaries who made America.”
Kurzweil was the principal inventor of the first CCD flat-bed scanner, the first omni-font optical character recognition, the first print-to-speech reading machine for the blind, the first text-to-speech synthesizer, the first music synthesizer capable of recreating the grand piano and other orchestral instruments, and the first commercially marketed large-vocabulary speech recognition.
Among Kurzweil’s many honors, he recently received the 2015 Technical Grammy Award for outstanding achievements in the field of music technology; he is the recipient of the National Medal of Technology, was inducted into the National Inventors Hall of Fame, holds twenty honorary Doctorates, and honors from three U.S. presidents.
Ray has written five national best-selling books, including New York Times bestsellers The Singularity Is Near (2005) and How To Create A Mind (2012). He is a Director of Engineering at Google heading up a team developing machine intelligence and natural language understanding.
Robin Chase is a transportation entrepreneur. She is founder and former CEO of Zipcar, the largest carsharing company in the world; Buzzcar, a service that brings together car owners and drivers in a carsharing marketplace in France; and GoLoco, an online ridesharing community. She is also executive chairman of Veniam, a vehicle communications company building the networking fabric for the Internet of Moving Things.
She is on the Boards of the Massachusetts Department of Transportation, the World Resources Institute and Tucows. She also served on the National Advisory Council for Innovation & Entrepreneurship for the US Department of Commerce, the Intelligent Transportations Systems Program Advisory Committee for the US Department of Transportation, the OECD’s International Transport Forum Advisory Board the Massachusetts Governor’s Transportation Transition Working Group and Boston Mayor’s Wireless Task Force.
Chase lectures widely, has been frequently featured in the major media, and has received many awards in the areas of innovation, design, and environment, including TIME 100 Most Influential People, Fast Company Fast 50 Innovators and BusinessWeek Top 10 Designers. She is author of Peers Inc: How People and Platforms Are Inventing the Collaborative Economy and Reinventing Capitalism (PublicAffairs, 2015).
Chase graduated from Wellesley College and MIT’s Sloan School of Management, was a Harvard University Loeb Fellow, and received an honorary Doctorate of Design from the Illinois Institute of Technology.
Nik Badminton researches, speaks, and writes about the future of work, how technology is affecting the workplace, how the worker is adapting, the sharing economy and how the world will evolve. He also advises established businesses and startups how to adapt and grow in the new world of evolving technology.
He is a trusted advisor to C-level executives in startups and established businesses across government, telco, high-tech, air transport, travel, pharmaceuticals, gaming, and utilities industries verticals globally.
Dr. Kate Darling is a leading expert in Robot Ethics. She’s a researcher at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) Media Lab, where she investigates social robotics and conducts experimental studies on human-robot interaction.
Kate explores the emotional connection between people and life-like machines, seeking to influence technology design and policy direction. Her writing and research anticipate difficult questions that lawmakers, engineers, and the wider public will need to address as human-robot relationships evolve in the coming decades. Forever interested in how technology intersects with society, Kate has a background in law & economics and intellectual property. She has researched economic incentives in copyright and patent systems and has taken a role as intellectual property expert at multiple academic and private institutions. She currently serves as intellectual property policy advisor to the director of the MIT Media Lab.
As director of the Centre for Theoretical Neuroscience at the University of Waterloo, Prof. Chris Eliasmith uses mathematics and computer modelling to study the brain processes that give rise to behaviour. His lab developed the world's largest functional brain model, Spaun, whose 2.5 million simulated neurons provide insights into the complexities of thought and action.
Spaun was built using patented neural compiler software, Nengo, that allows large-scale, robust neural networks to be built for the next generation of brain-inspired micro-processors currently being developed by researchers and major chip makers. This software provides new methods for developing sophisticated robotic control, deep-learning networks, and artificial agents. Dr. Eliasmith and his lab team have formed Applied Brain Research Inc. to commercialize these technologies.
After running product development and marketing for a large software company (which was acquired by Thomson Reuters in 2008) Sarah went on to be the founder of Sprouter, which was one of the world's first online communities providing real‐time advice to startups. The platform was acquired in 2011 and she went on to build BetaKit. After joining forces with talented business leaders from some of the world’s top companies like LEGO, Virgin and Starbucks, Sarah co‐founded BrandProject actively investing in early-stage startups across a wide variety of industries.
Sarah is passionate about education and getting smart people to work on transformative ideas. She is a relentless advocate for youth entrepreneurship and is the Founder and CEO of Future Design School (FDS). FDS facilitates innovative curriculum and teacher training for schools looking to encourage entrepreneurship with their students. The organization is building a network of innovation‐focused micro‐schools across North America.
Michael is the co-founder and CEO of the leading Video Marketing platform, Vidyard. When he's not bringing leading video based technologies to market, he serves as general partner of Garage Capital, a seed stage fund focused on Super-Cluster companies looking to expand their networks into Silicon Valley. Michael also sits on the Communitech Board of Directors; a KW based organization designed to help companies start, grow and succeed.
Neil Wainwright is the CEO and co-founder of Nexonia, providing leading web and mobile business financial and time management solutions. Neil has over 30 years of technical engineering experience and has been an entrepreneur in building and managing businesses for over 25 years. Nexonia was founded by Neil and Pascal Paradis-Théberge in 2002, launching their first products in 2004.