and Promote World Health
Around the world, billions of people suffer from diseases that reduce their longevity and quality of life. Of these, hundreds of millions have severe illnesses, and over 50 million die every year. Most of those deaths are from a set of well-known causes that are preventable. In other cases, although cures have not yet been developed, they are within reach of exponential health technologies (such as biotechnology and nanotechnology) within the next one to two decades. So, if people can make it ten or twenty years in reasonably good health, they will be able to take advantage of new health breakthroughs that will dramatically extend their lives.
Also, the types of diseases that people suffer from differ between wealthy nations and poor nations. In developed countries like the United States, people often suffer from heart disease and diabetes caused in part by eating too much saturated fat, sugars, and starches, and not exercising enough. In developing countries like Haiti and Zambia, people get diseases such as cholera because they don’t have access to clean drinking water. Improving health in wealthy nations mainly requires advances in medical technology to develop new treatments and cures, and campaigns to encourage people to practice healthy lifestyles. In poor nations, it requires new technologies and distribution strategies to help people access sanitation and basic medicine, as well as educational programs to integrate those technologies into the communities.
In the novel, Danielle promotes world health in several ways. She develops ingenious therapies for cancer and heart disease, and encourages her followers to be physically active. For developing countries such as Zambia, she arranges for innovative water filtration systems to be installed in communities so they can avoid polluted-water diseases, such as cholera. For example, she introduces the Slingshot water purification technology (see below) to Zambia when she is six years old. There are many opportunities for you to follow Danielle’s example, either advancing medical innovation, or helping create healthy conditions around the world.
Let’s look at a range of the most serious problems for world health, and what you can do about each of them—ranging from organizations that you can support, to areas where you might be able to create valuable innovations.
- Heart disease. Heart disease and related diseases of the cardiovascular system are the leading cause of death in developed countries. A combination of unhealthy diets, lack of exercise, and high obesity rates lead to atherosclerosis (the clogging of the arteries with plaque) which is the primary cause of heart disease. This can cause chronic problems like pain and heart failure, as well as acute problems such as heart attack and stroke. By forming healthier habits, most people can greatly reduce their risk of heart disease. Here are some ideas for how you can work to reduce heart disease:
- My health books (coauthored with Terry Grossman, M.D.), Fantastic Voyage1 and TRANSCEND,2 provide extensive descriptions on how to dramatically reduce your risk of heart disease and related problems.
- To refresh yourself about the problem, take a look at this Khan Academy introduction3to heart disease, heart attacks, and atherosclerosis. It explains how these processes work, in clear language with examples.
- The American Heart Association4runs some excellent programs to encourage healthy living, through a combination of diet, exercise, managing stress, and not smoking cigarettes. You could organize a fundraiser, or use the online resources they offer to start activities at your school promoting fitness and good eating habits. Their Healthy for Good5campaign offers tips and resources that can help both kids and adults form lifestyles that prevent heart disease.
- You can also consider donating to the British Heart Foundation,6which is more closely focused on funding innovative research that looks at the molecular-level causes of heart disease. With these insights, it is easier to design drugs that keep the heart healthy, and with a minimum of side effects elsewhere in the body.
- If you know computer programming, you can create apps that encourage healthy habits. Think of ways you could make it appealing and exciting to set goals and achieve them. If you don’t know coding yet, take a look at the entry for “How You Can Be a Danielle and Learn to Program Computers from a Young Age.”
- Another area of need is for apps that can help people understand their risk factors for heart disease, and warn them when they should seek treatment. Right now, too many people wait to see a doctor until their heart disease has already caused their body permanent damage. Often, the first symptom of heart disease is a heart attack, and a third of first heart attacks are fatal. If someone’s phone or computer could detect risk based on their behavior, it could get them to medical attention much sooner.
- Unhealthy eating habits aren’t just the result of laziness or not knowing that junk food is harmful. Unlike in developing countries, poor people in rich countries find junk food to be the most affordable way to obtain enough calories. In some high-poverty neighborhoods, there are few, if any, sources of fresh, healthy food available. These are known as food deserts,7as explained in this TED Talk by Ron Finley. Innovation could solve this problem. Think of ways healthy food could be made available less expensively in food deserts. Many different subjects could be helpful in finding a solution—biology, chemistry, robotics, artificial intelligence, and more. For more information, see the entry for “How You Can Be a Danielle and Help Cure Heart Disease.”
- Cancer is the second most prevalent cause of death in developed countries. Reducing this toll will take a combination of lifestyle changes, such as anti-smoking campaigns, and medical breakthroughs, such as drug cocktails that can destroy cancer stem cells. Here are some ideas for how you can promote world health by fighting cancer:
- To review the basics, take a look at this three-minute animated summary of what goes wrong in the body when cancer develops.8
- The MD Anderson Cancer Center9is one of the world’s most advanced cancer research programs. The doctors and scientists there are working on several ambitious “moon shot” programs to develop advanced therapies that could greatly reduce deaths from hard-to-treat cancers. Consider raising money for them, volunteering, or raising awareness about their work on social media.
- The Cancer Research Institute10gets outstanding ratings for the quality and impact of its research. They find the most promising scientists and projects and give them the funding they need to generate innovative breakthroughs. They’re another worthy organization for fundraising.
- The American Lung Association11provides resources to help people quit using tobacco, which is the main cause of lung cancer, which kills more people each year than any other type of cancer. They support research into new methods for fighting addiction more effectively and sponsor campaigns to persuade young people not to try cigarette smoking in the first place.
- One of the reasons why some forms of cancer are so deadly is that they do not cause major symptoms until the disease has metastasized (spread to multiple locations). For this reason, many lives could be saved by more advanced screening tests that could detect cancer more cheaply, more accurately, and sooner. Even as a young person, you can do meaningful research on cancer detection, and maybe invent a revolutionary new approach. For more information, see the entry for “How You Can Be a Danielle and Help Cure Cancer.”
- Because people carry their phones with them almost all the time, mobile apps offer a new opportunity to give people trying to quit smoking the support they need, when they need it. Think of ways you could develop an app to make quitting easier. If you know someone who smokes, ask them what the hardest parts about quitting are, and see if you can find a solution to these problems.
- Most current approaches to fighting cancer are very blunt tools. They combat the cancer, but also harm healthy cells in the body. In the future, cancers will be removed from the body with specially engineered molecules or nano-scale machines put into the body for that purpose. To be part of those breakthroughs, you should study this field as soon as you can. Consider taking an online course such as Nanotechnology and Nanosensors (Part I12and Part II13), a 60-100 hour class from the Israel Institute of Technology that gives beginners a solid and detailed introduction to nanotech.
- HIV/AIDS. AIDS and the virus that causes it, HIV, cause about a million deaths a year. Although smaller numbers of people in developed countries have AIDS, most of the victims are in poor parts of the world. Preventing and treating AIDS for these people would be a huge boost to world health. Consider these ideas for actions you can take:
- For inspiration, take a look at some or all of these 11 TED Talks on innovative ways people are working to end HIV and AIDS.14
- Population Services International15has a network of 50 health organizations in poor countries around the world. They are known for creating effective programs to stop the spread of HIV/AIDS, such as contraception, education, and special help for drug users. PSI has an excellent focus on achieving positive impact and measuring its results based on good evidence. In the most recent year reported, their work on AIDS and other sexually-transmitted infections prevented patients from losing a combined 10.5 million years of healthy life. By raising funds for PSI, young people in wealthy countries can make a big difference in the lives of some of the world’s most disadvantaged young people, because so many children are made orphans by AIDS.
- UNAIDS,16 the Joint United Nations Program on HIV/AIDS, helps coordinate efforts by many different groups to fight this problem. Donations to UNAIDS help them improve the medical services available in poor countries, and ensure that AIDS patients have access to care even though the disease has a negative stigma.
- Take a look at these five ways technology is fighting HIV and preventing AIDS.17 Notice that these innovations draw on fields such as computing, psychology, and telecommunications. In a similar way, your best chance of making a contribution to the fight against AIDS is by applying fresh and unusual ideas.
- The arts are another opportunity for impact. In most parts of the world, AIDS patients face severe stigma. Some people associate the disease with behavior they perceive to be immoral, and there are widespread myths saying that someone can catch AIDS by casual interaction with someone who has the disease. As a result, people with AIDS are often shunned and isolated. That’s why there’s a need for art, videos, and music that show people a more positive view of people living with AIDS. This can create a more inclusive community and reduce prejudice. For inspiration, take a look at this video about Alan Brand,18 an AIDS survivor who is working to break down the stigma about the disease.
- A likely avenue for a cure for AIDS would be the creation of a vaccine for the HIV virus. There has been progress in this direction, but no final breakthrough yet. Learn more about work on an HIV vaccine,19and see if there are any scientists in your area working on this who you could assist in their research.
- Clean water. In the developing world, 780 million people don’t have safe drinking water, and 2.5 billion people don’t have sanitary toilets. This results in diseases like cholera that cause diarrhea and other intestinal problems. Children and elderly people are particularly vulnerable. Diarrhea causes dehydration that is often fatal, resulting in the deaths of around 800,000 children younger than five years old each year. Giving people access to safe drinking water and good sanitation can prevent almost all of those deaths. Here are some ideas to start you thinking about ways to accomplish that:
- To understand the problem better, take a look at journalist Rose George20explaining the relationship between sanitation and disease. For further information, take a look at the entry for “How You Can Be a Danielle and Combat Drought and Polluted Water in Poor Nations.”
- For inspiration, watch young scientist Deepika Kurup21explain her efforts to find new clean-water solutions, which started when she was only 14 years old.
- One of the most outstanding non-governmental organizations for healthcare is Partners in Health.22Its cholera program provides treatment, education, and prevention in some of the world’s poorest countries. This not only helps the people directly spared of disease, but also the many children who would be orphaned or have to drop out of school because polluted water made their parents sick. Raising money for Partners in Health helps them provide clean-water solutions on the ground, which saves lives quickly and inexpensively.
- Other organizations worth your support include Lifewater,23 which builds clean water systems in poor communities, and provides education on good sanitation practices to keep that water clean until people use it, and CARE,24which puts special focus on women’s role in community sanitation.
- There’s always need for better water purification systems and better well technology. Learn more about Dean Kamen’s SlingShot25invention, and try brainstorming ideas about other ways to help communities get clean water and keep it sanitary. This is the technology that Danielle introduces to Zambia when she is six years old.
- Create an app or website that can help people find clean water or judge whether the water they have is safe to drink. It is worth noting that many people who don’t have healthy drinking water or sanitary toilets do have access to the Internet via mobile phones.
- If you’re interested in media, you could work with a clean-water charity to help them spread their message more effectively among young people. What do you think might make more people your age care about clean water for people thousands of miles away?
- Infectious diseases. Although AIDS gets more attention than any other infectious disease in the developing world, far more deaths are caused by other conditions. Every year, more than two million people die of malaria or tuberculosis. Occasionally, there are epidemics of diseases like Ebola or SARS. Fortunately, there are often inexpensive and effective defenses against these conditions, such as mosquito nets for malaria and vaccines for tuberculosis. Stopping outbreaks of diseases like Ebola requires a strong response from doctors and nurses to treat victims before too many people get infected. Look over these ideas to get you thinking about ways to make a difference combating infectious diseases:
- First, take a look at this talk by Bill Gates26on mosquitoes, malaria, and education. The charitable foundation he started with his wife Melinda has taken a lead role in fighting malaria around the globe.
- The Against Malaria Foundation27provides insecticidal nets to communities vulnerable to malaria. People can put these nets over their beds, so mosquitoes don’t bite them while they’re sleeping and spread disease. According to the charity evaluator GiveWell, this is perhaps the most cost-effective lifesaving donation you can make in the world. For about $100, you can save a person an entire year of healthy life—and for about $3,340, you can save a life. To put that in context, in America, some policy makers consider it cost-effective if someone’s life can be saved for about $9 million!
- Fast facts about tuberculosis28and its impact on world health. This includes information on the two main types of tuberculosis, and a timeline of efforts to treat it.
- Doctors Without Borders29does essential work in poor countries vulnerable to tuberculosis. This lung condition kills about 1.8 million people a year, but can be prevented with vaccinations, and be successfully treated with powerful antibiotics. Raising money for Doctors Without Borders helps them provide these services as early as possible to those who would otherwise have no access to care.
- Animated TED-Ed lesson30n what we know and don’t know about Ebola.
- Doctors Without Borders made crucial contributions to containing the 2014 Ebola outbreak in Africa. Read more about their inspiring work here.31
- The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Foundation32provides training, equipment, and logistics to developing countries to help them fight diseases like Ebola. Donations to this program make it less likely that future epidemics will get out of control and kill large numbers of people around the world.
- In addition to the direct harm from infectious diseases, they are also the subject of widespread rumors and superstition. People in vulnerable populations sometimes incorrectly believe they can make themselves immune to a disease by ingesting unusual substances or performing certain ritual actions. Sometimes, rumors spread saying that real cures, like vaccinations, will poison people and make them sick. There could be great benefits from a new online platform that helps give people accurate information about disease outbreaks and explains why the rumors are wrong.
- It is often difficult to get enough trained medical personnel to remote areas of poor countries. It takes training to be able to deliver vaccine injections, screen people for malaria, or give medicine from IVs. This is an opportunity for innovation. Talk to someone who has worked in medicine in these parts of the world, and ask them how their training helped them do their job. See if you can think of ways that medical equipment could be made simpler, so people without specialized training can use it safely.
- The sooner doctors detect an outbreak of infectious disease, the easier it is to contain and prevent it from spreading to large numbers of people. There is, therefore, a need for better technology to inexpensively screen people for these diseases. If there’s a university near where you live, see if any researchers there are studying infectious diseases. You might be able to assist in their research and contribute ideas about how to create better disease tests.
- In rich countries, diets high in “high-glycemic” foods such as sugars and starches have led to a large increase in type 2 diabetes. Diabetes is a major world health problem, because it can lead to deterioration of many parts of the body. It is a leading cause of blindness, nerve problems, and organ damage. It can substantially increase the likelihood of heart disease. Fingers and toes, or even whole limbs, can become so diseased that they must be amputated. A combination of modern medicine and good diet habits can keep diabetes under control, but treatments are still very expensive, and do not fully restore people’s quality of life. Here are some ways you can get involved:
- The best way to find solutions is to start by thoroughly understanding the problem. Take a look at these fast facts about diabetes,33 but you might wish to go deeper with Diabetes—A Global Challenge,34 a 12-week online course from the University of Copenhagen, which gives students a fuller understanding of the impact of diabetes on world health, and what is being done to fight it.
- The Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation35funds pioneering medical research into how to better treat, and eventually cure, type 1 diabetes (diabetes caused by an auto-immune destruction of the pancreatic islet cells of the pancreas). They provide funding to doctors and researchers with creative and daring ideas, some of which might not be able to get funding in the corporate world. At present, there is no cure for type 1 diabetes, and the best doctors can do is manage the condition so patients don’t get worse. Raising funds for the JDRF is one of the best ways to assist this research. As a positive side-effect, you could use a fundraiser at your school to help fellow students with diabetes feel more included and supported by the community.
- Although diabetes is a huge problem in wealthy countries, many people in poor countries also suffer from this disease. And unlike your friends and neighbors with diabetes, they lack access to good treatments and may not have learned how a good diet can manage their condition. The World Diabetes Foundation36focuses on diabetes prevention and treatment in developing countries, where donation dollars go farther than in America or Europe. If you’re looking for immediate impact on people’s lives, this is an excellent organization to support.
- When people don’t manage their diabetes properly, their elevated blood sugar levels can cause a variety of types of damage to their bodies. A major reason why some people don’t monitor their blood sugar better is that most tests require them to poke their own skin and draw blood, which is uncomfortable and inconvenient. If you could create a more painless way to test blood sugar, more people would keep their diabetes under control. Talk to someone with diabetes and see if they have any special tricks to facilitate this process. This might give you some ideas about how a better test might work.
- Another problem with diabetes is that it can be difficult to keep track of which foods someone should avoid if they have the disease. In general, patients need to limit their sugar intake, but many foods that aren’t even sweet still have a lot of sugar added to them. You might not guess how much sugar is in items like salad dressing, dipping sauce, or bread rolls. Equally problematic is high levels of simple starches. If you could design an app or other smart technology for warning people about the sugar and starch in their food, this would make it easier to keep diabetes under control.
- The best way to treat type 2 diabetes is to prevent people from getting it in the first place. If you create media or memes encouraging healthy eating habits among young people, you can reduce the number of people in your generation who will eventually develop diabetes.
- Alzheimer’s. Alzheimer’s is a degenerative disease of the brain that gradually causes people to lose their memory and mental abilities. Although some people get it while still in midlife, it mainly affects the elderly. With the Baby Boomer generation entering its 60s and 70s, experts predict that the number of people with Alzheimer’s worldwide will skyrocket from 5.1 million in 2015 to 13.5 million in 2050—unless a cure is found. Here are some things you can do to understand this disease, support research for a cure, and help people who currently suffer from Alzheimer’s:
- First, take a look at this short and informative video summary of what Alzheimer’s disease is37 and how it works in the brain.
- TED Talk by scientist Samuel Cohen38on potential progress toward a cure for Alzheimer’s.
- Another talk, by neuroscientist Lisa Genova,39 on steps people can take to reduce their likelihood of getting Alzheimer’s.
- Consider supporting the Fisher Center for Alzheimer’s Research Foundation,40one of the leading groups spearheading medical research into how Alzheimer’s might be cured. There has already been encouraging progress toward understanding what goes wrong in the brain to cause Alzheimer’s symptoms, and what general sort of therapies might be needed to cure it. If you raise funds for this organization, they go toward this long-term goal.
- On the other hand, the Alzheimer’s Foundation of America41is more present-focused. The foundation works to support good care for people who are already suffering from Alzheimer’s. Caring for people with memory problems takes a lot of skill, and the Alzheimer’s Foundation is dedicated to increasing the standard of care that these people receive as they face this terrible disease. If supporting the foundation appeals to you, you might also find it rewarding to volunteer in your community with people who have Alzheimer’s.
- Although there is no cure yet for Alzheimer’s, there is good reason to believe that people who keep their minds active can reduce their risk of getting it, or slow the progression of the disease if they already have it. If you create an app to help senior citizens train their brains more effectively, you could help keep their minds sharper and give them a better quality of life. If you have the coding skills and a creative mindset, a psychologist or nurse who works with memory-loss patients might be able to advise you on what forms of mental training are most effective at fighting Alzheimer’s.
- There’s also a need for apps or inventions that help people with the early to moderate stages of Alzheimer’s cope and function in daily life. For example, Alzheimer’s might make someone forget where they left their keys, but this would be less of a problem if they could press a button on their phone and activate a noisemaker attached to the keychain. Check out these items for some inspiration,42 and try to imagine other ways that technology could help people with memory problems.
- Especially in developed countries, obesity is one of the prime causes of health problems. According to the World Health Organization, the global obesity rate has more than doubled since 1980. More than 1.9 billion adults around the world are overweight, and of these, over 600 million are obese, which means seriously overweight. This amounts to about 13% of the world’s adult population. Being obese can lead to many other conditions, including heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes, and some kinds of cancer. Look over these ideas for ways you can encourage healthy lifestyles and reduce obesity:
- Think about the provocative ideas of healthy food advocate Jamie Oliver,43 who describes obesity as an epidemic among children, and proposes innovative diet solutions.
- Study the publications of the Center for Science in the Public Interest,44which is a strong voice in favor of healthy food and balanced nutrition, and backs up its analysis with strong science. If you organize a fundraiser for them, you can support their mission to improve public health through improved diet.
- Support the Alliance for a Healthier Generation,45which focuses on good nutrition for young people and advocates healthy food in schools. If your school doesn’t offer enough healthy food, they can provide guidance to help you achieve positive change.
- Another organization worth supporting is Action for Healthy Kids,46which works with schools to encourage more exercise for young people. They have resources to help teachers organize more physical activity during the school day.
- Check out this list of 18 top childhood health and nutrition nonprofits,47 as ranked by the charity evaluator GuideStar, and see if one of them appeals to you to support—whether for fundraising, volunteering, or sharing their message online.
- Think about your own diet and exercise habits. What do you find difficult about sticking to those habits every day? Then, consider what might make those things easier. Can you imagine an app that might help? If so, the odds are that other people would feel the same way, so start coding!
- Some of the easiest and most enjoyable exercise happens when we think of it as play instead of exercise. The 2016 augmented reality app Pokémon Go attracted hundreds of millions of players by making exercise a natural part of a fun, addictive, and exciting game.
To get an even deeper understanding of the major problems in world health, and what you can do to help fix them, you should consider taking an online college-level course on the subject. Take a look at some options:
- Global Health and Humanitarianism48 is a 6-week course from the University of Manchester about the relationship between challenges to world health and proposed solutions to resolve them. The course is aimed at beginners, doesn’t require any prior background in the subject, and is a fairly modest time commitment.
- Essentials of Global Health,49 a course from Yale University covering key topics in public health and providing more detail than a short course could. This is a more intensive course, lasting 10 weeks and taking 5-7 hours per week.
- There’s a wide range of other online courses about public health,50 with options for many different interests and levels of commitment. Look through the list and see if any catch your interest.
For more information, please see the following entries in the companion book A Chronicle of Ideas: A Guide for Superheroines (and Superheroes): World Health Organization, Ribavirin, Cholera, Drug Cocktail, Cancer Stem Cell, Arterial Calcifications.
Thank you …
To all the Danielles who have inspired this book.
To my talented daughter Amy Kurzweil who was my deeply insightful fiction writing coach and who drew the inspired graphic novel style illustrations for Danielle.
To my devoted partner and wife, Sonya Rosenwald Kurzweil, for her love, guidance and insight into the interpersonal world.
To my sister, Enid Kurzweil Sterling, for her ideas, creativity, and work on our family heritage.
To my brilliant publisher Kevin J. Anderson and his pioneering publishing company WordFire Press. Kevin is one of the best-selling science fiction authors in the United States with over 50 bestsellers and 23 million books in print. He has provided outstanding editorial guidance. WordFire Press represents many bestselling authors and has been immensely innovative in its approach to literature and publishing.
To my outstanding editor Rebecca Moesta whose exceptionally skillful editorial feedback has guided Danielle to be the best it (and she) can be. She is also one of the inspired leaders of WordFire.
To the devoted and talented staff at WordFire Press who guided this project to completion, including Master Editor Mia Kleve, Editor Pat Oliver, Production Manager Michelle Corsillo, book layout expert Quincy J. Allen, and executive assistant Chris Mandeville.
To Celia Black-Brooks, for her guidance, encouragement, detailed work on photo permissions, and inspired efforts to let the world know about Danielle.
To my talented researcher John-Clark Levin who helped gather and shape the information in the nonfiction companion books, A Chronicle of Ideas: A Guide for Superheroines (and Superheroes), and How You Can Be a Danielle.
To my devoted book agent, Nick Mullendore, for his dedication, encouragement, and outstanding editorial guidance.
To my brilliant editor of KurzweilAI.net, Amara Angelica who provided invaluable guidance and ideas.
To my devoted and outstanding managing editor of KurzweilAI.net, Sarah Black, who provided precious detailed editorial feedback.
To Harry Kloor, a brilliant and enormously creative polymath, who provided guidance, encouragement, and ideas (and an introduction to WordFire Press!).
To Nanda Barker-Hook for her editorial guidance and for making sure I’m in the right city at the right time.
To Laksman Frank, for his creative book design and assistance with the illustrations and images in A Chronicle of Ideas.
To Tim Garrigan and the team at the Garrigan Lyman Group for their inspired and enthusiastic efforts to tell Danielle’s story to the world.
To Allen Kurzweil, a brilliant novelist, for his outstanding editorial ideas.
To my son, Ethan, for his love and outstanding guidance in the entrepreneurial world.
To Rebecca Hanover Kurzweil, my daughter-in-law, for her love and outstanding editorial guidance and feedback.
To Rick Kot, my editor for four of my nonfiction books, for his encouragement and expert editorial guidance in the world of fiction.
To Aaron Kleiner, devoted best friend (for over fifty years) for his encouragement and guidance.
To Barry Ptolemy, for his invaluable editorial feedback, for teaching me the “Christian Arc” in story-telling and character development, and his outstanding work directing the Danielle virtual reality book trailer.
To Amy Kurzweil and Jaya Frank for the color for the illustrations.
To Terry Grossman, devoted friend, coauthor of my health books, and guide in the world of health.
To Martine Rothblatt, for being an outstanding role model and for her brilliant leadership in the world of entrepreneurship and biotechnology, two of Danielle’s passions.
To Mickey Singer, devoted friend, and inspired intellectual and spiritual guide.
To Tony Robbins and Deepak Chopra, for their insights into the most important human attributes: motivation and creativity.
To Steve Flier, for his guidance in the world of health.
To Martin Miller, for his guidance in the worlds of emotions, relationships, and the mind.
To my Aunt Dorit Whiteman, for her love and outstanding remembrances (including several books) on my family’s heritage including my great-grandmother’s “Stern Schule.”
To Jacob Sparks, my daughter Amy’s boyfriend, for his insights into the world of philosophy.
To Megan Fenwick, the first reader of draft one of this novel, who has inspired me with her love of books.
To my good friend, Charlie Kam, for his ideas, encouragement, and insights into our exponential future.
To and in memory of:
My mother Hannah, who was my first fan and to whom I credit my confidence.
My father Fredric, who inspired me and all those around him with his music and his kindness.
My grandmother Lillian Stern Bader, who showed me her mechanical typewriter when I was five, which inspired me to become an inventor.
My great-grandmother Regina, who in 1868 founded the Stern Schule, the first school in Europe to provide higher education for girls (which is the model of the Stern School, which Danielle attends).
Marvin Minsky, the father of artificial intelligence and my mentor.
And Loretta Barrett, my book agent through seven books, who guided me in the power of the written word, and who encouraged me with Danielle.
To my mentees, who have provided many ideas and are emerging Danielles including Jessica Byington, David Dalrymple, Laura Deming, Lucy Flores, Danielle Kurzweil, Erica Lee, and Izzy Swart.
My brilliant colleagues at Google who have provided many ideas, including John Giannandrea, Brian Strope, RJ Mical, Jonni Kanerva, Chris Tar, Anna Patterson, Jeff Dean, Larry Page, Fernando Pereira, Corinna Cortes, Amarnag Subramanya, and many others.
To Peter Diamandis, my brilliant exponential cofounder of Singularity University who has provided deep insights and optimism into our abundant future, and my other inspired colleagues at Singularity University including Rob Nail, Gabriel Baldinucci, Salim Ismail, Neil Jacobstein, Emeline Paat-Dahlstrom, and others.
My devoted colleagues who have provided invaluable resources and support including Bob Beal, Maria Ellis, Ken Linde, Sarah Reed, Denise Scutellaro, Marylou Sousa, and Joan Walsh.
To my devoted readers who have provided invaluable feedback and who have been dedicated dialogue partners including Melanie Futorian Baker, Jasmine Boussem, Vint Cerf, Bonnie Amanda DeAngelo, Amelia Eakins, Salina Espinosa, Robin Farmanfarmaian, George Gilder, John Gregg, Audra Hardt, Sasha Helper, Doug Katz, Kayce Laine, Goedele Leyssen, Paul Mahon, Cindy Mason, Marc, Mauer, Cyrus Mehta, Susan Monson, Margaret Moor, Rosy Moreno, Jackie Parker, John Parmentola, Felicia Ptolemy, Steve Rabinowitz, LeAnne Rumbel, Suzanne Somers, Kamila Staryga, Rachel Tayeb, Tim Thompson, Vivek Wadhwa, Lily Whiteman, and Nadine Whiteman.
About the Author
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, he was selected as one of the top entrepreneurs by Inc. magazine.
Ray 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 Ray’s many honors, he received a GRAMMY® Award for outstanding achievements in music technology; he is the recipient of the National Medal of Technology, was inducted into the National Inventors Hall of Fame, holds twenty-one honorary Doctorates, and honors from three US presidents.
Ray has written five national best-selling books, including New York Times best sellers The Singularity Is Near (2005) and How to Create a Mind (2012). He is co-founder and Chancellor of Singularity University and a Director of Engineering at Google heading up a team developing machine intelligence and natural language understanding.
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