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Artificial Life: A Report from the Frontier Where Computers Meet Biology

February 16, 2001

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author |
Steven Levy
year published |
1993

This enthralling book alerts us to nothing less than the existence of new varieties of life. Some of these species can move and eat, see, reproduce, and die. Some behave like birds or ants. One such life form may turn out to be our best weapon in the war against AIDS.

What these species have in common is that they exist inside computers, their DNA is digital, and… read more

Are We Spiritual Machines? Ray Kurzweil vs. the Critics of Strong A.I.

June 8, 2001

Are We Spiritual Machines

author |
Jay W. Richards, Ray Kurzweil, George Gilder
year published |
2001

Computers are becoming more powerful at an ever-increasing rate, but will they ever become conscious? Artificial intelligence guru Ray Kurzweil thinks so and explains how we will “download” our software (our minds) and “upgrade” our hardware (our bodies) to become immortal — before the dawn of the 22nd century.

In this debate with his critics, including several Discovery Institute fellows, Kurzweil defends his views and sets the stage… read more

Designing Sociable Robots (Intelligent Robotics and Autonomous Agents series)

February 16, 2004

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author |
Cynthia Breazeal
year published |
2004

Cynthia Breazeal here presents her vision of the sociable robot of the future, a synthetic creature and not merely a sophisticated tool. A sociable robot will be able to understand us, to communicate and interact with us, to learn from us and grow with us. It will be socially intelligent in a humanlike way. Eventually sociable robots will assist us in our daily lives, as collaborators and companions. Because… read more

Engines of Creation 2.0

March 1, 2007

Engines of Creation 2

author |
K. Eric Drexler
year published |
2007

Originally published in 1986, K. Eric Drexler’s Engines of Creation laid the theoretical foundation for the modern field of nanotechnology and articulated the amazing possibilities and dangers associated with engineering at the molecular scale.

Unique for both its style and substance, the book is today recognized as the seminal work in nanotechnology and has earned Drexler the title of “Father of Nanotechnology.”

Engines of Creation 2.0: Theread more

The Emotion Machine: Commonsense Thinking, Artificial Intelligence, and the Future of the Human Mind

January 18, 2008

The Emotion Machine

author |
Marvin Minsky
year published |
2007

In this mind-expanding book, scientific pioneer Marvin Minsky continues his groundbreaking research, offering a fascinating new model for how our minds work. He argues persuasively that emotions, intuitions, and feelings are not distinct things, but different ways of thinking.

By examining these different forms of mind activity, Minsky says, we can explain why our thought sometimes takes the form of carefully reasoned analysis and at other times turns… read more

Beyond AI: Creating the Conscience of the Machine

April 9, 2009

Beyond AI

author |
J. Storrs Hall

Artificial intelligence (AI) is now advancing at such a rapid clip that it has the potential to transform our world in ways both exciting and disturbing. Computers have already been designed that are capable of driving cars, playing soccer, and finding and organizing information on the Web in ways that no human could. With each new gain in processing power, will scientists soon be able to create supercomputers that… read more

Ending Aging: The Rejuvenation Breakthroughs That Could Reverse Human Aging in Our Lifetime

April 9, 2009
author |
Aubrey de Grey, Michael Rae
year published |
2007

MUST WE AGE?

A long life in a healthy, vigorous, youthful body has always been one of humanity’s greatest dreams. Recent progress in genetic manipulations and calorie-restricted diets in laboratory animals hold forth the promise that someday science will enable us to exert total control over our own biological aging.

Nearly all scientists who study the biology of aging agree that we will someday be… read more

Operators and Promoters: The Story of Molecular Biology and Its Creators

April 9, 2009
author |
Harrison G. Echols
year published |
2001

During the past four decades, molecular biology has dominated the life sciences. Curiously, no participant in this scientific revolution has previously attempted a book-length history of the development of this powerful science. Harrison (“Hatch”) Echols provides such an account in Operators and Promoters. A gifted molecular biologist and talented raconteur, Echols relates the intellectual history of the most influential discoveries in molecular biology from his own experiences.… read more

Here Comes Everybody: The Power of Organizing Without Organizations

April 9, 2009
author |
Clay Shirky
year published |
2009

An examination of how the rapid spread of new forms of social interaction enabled by technology is changing the way humans form groups and exist within them, with profound long-term economic and social effects–for good and for ill. Our age’s new technologies of social networking are evolving, and evolving us, into new groups doing new things in new ways, and old and new groups alike doing the old things… read more

FAB: The Coming Revolution on Your Desktop–From Personal Computers to Personal Fabrication

April 9, 2009
author |
Neil Gershenfeld
year published |
2007

Personal fabrication (PF) is the ability to design and produce your own products in your own home, with a machine that combines consumer electronics and industrial tools. This book describes how personal fabricators are about to revolutionize the world just as personal computers did a generation ago.

Musicophilia: Tales of Music and the Brain

April 9, 2009
author |
Oliver Sacks
year published |
2007

Music can move us to the heights or depths of emotion. It can persuade us to buy something, or remind us of our first date. It can lift us out of depression when nothing else can. It can get us dancing to its beat. But the power of music goes much, much further. Indeed, music occupies more areas of our brain than language does—humans are a musical… read more

Nanosystems: Molecular Machinery, Manufacturing, and Computation

April 9, 2009

Nanosystems book cover

author |
K. Eric Drexler
year published |
1992

Devices enormously smaller than before will remodel engineering, chemistry, medicine, and computer technology. How can we understand machines that are so small? Nanosystems covers it all: power and strength, friction and wear, thermal noise and quantum uncertainty. This is the book for starting the next century of engineering.” — Marvin Minsky MIT.

Science magazine calls Eric Drexler “Mr. Nanotechnology.” For years, Drexler has stirred controversy by… read more

Kinematic Self-Replicating Machines

April 9, 2009
author |
Robert A. Freitas Jr., Ralph C. Merkle
year published |
2004

This book offers a general review of the voluminous theoretical and experimental literature pertaining to physical self-replicating systems and self-replication. The principal focus here is on self-replicating machine systems. Most importantly, we are concerned with kinematic self-replicating machines: systems in which actual physical objects, not mere patterns of information, undertake their own replication.

Following a brief burst of activity in the 1950s and 1980s, the field… read more

The Code Book: The Science of Secrecy from Ancient Egypt to Quantum Cryptography

April 9, 2009

In his first book since the bestselling Fermat’s Enigma, Simon Singh offers the first sweeping history of encryption, tracing its evolution and revealing the dramatic effects codes have had on wars, nations, and individual lives. From Mary, Queen of Scots, trapped by her own code, to the Navajo Code Talkers who helped the Allies win World War II, to the incredible (and incredibly simple) logisitical breakthrough that made Internet… read more

Nanofuture: What’s Next For Nanotechnology

April 9, 2009

nanofuture whats next

author |
J. Storrs Hall
year published |
2005

Hall writes that nanotechnology “involves building machines whose parts are of molecular size, but more importantly, of atomic precision … more »….” He foresees nanotechnology progressing through five stages of development, stage one being our current ability to image objects at an atomic scale with a limited ability to manipulate them, and stage five being the ability of miniature robots to reproduce and learn from experience.

A fellow… read more

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