This review of Stephen Wolfram’s new book addresses weaknesses in Wolfram’s notions of computational complexity, general relativity, quantum mechanics, and the Bell inequality violation.… read more
To avoid dangers such as unrestrained nanobot replication, we need relinquishment at the right level and to place our highest priority on the continuing advance of defensive technologies, staying ahead of destructive technologies. An overall strategy should include a streamlined regulatory process, a global program of monitoring for unknown or evolving biological pathogens, temporary moratoriums, raising public awareness, international cooperation, software reconnaissance, and fostering values of liberty, tolerance, and respect for knowledge and diversity.… read more
February 26, 2001 by Danny Belkin
Integration of human and machine will lead to an interconnected “organism”–the next major evolutionary step forward for humanity, says immunology PhD candidate Danny Belkin.… read more
January 21, 2002 by Stuart Kauffman
The 5th Annual Edge Question reflects the spirit of the Edge motto: “To arrive at the edge of the world’s knowledge, seek out the most complex and sophisticated minds, put them in a room together, and have them ask each other the questions they are asking themselves.” Stuart Kauffman asks: what must a physical system be to be able to act?… read more
Will the future be green (based on biotechnology) or gray (based on nanotechnology and nanotech-powered AI)? Ray Kurzweil and Gregory Stock will debate this issue at the Foresight Senior Associate Gathering. Both have advantages, but environmentalists and anti-biotech activists may load the dice in favor of gray.… read more
What happened before the Big Bang and why is the universe uniform and flat? The inflationary model offers an explanation. It also predicts the observed non-uniformities of the cosmic background radiation based on wild ideas about quantum fluctuations at 10^-35 seconds. Next step: the intersection between cosmology and particle physics.… read more
In “The Singularity Is Always Near,” an essay in The Technium, an online “book in progress,” author Kevin Kelly critiques arguments on exponential growth made in Ray Kurzweil’s book, The Singularity Is Near. Kurzweil responds.
Allow me to clarify the metaphor implied by the term “singularity.” The metaphor implicit in the term “singularity” as applied to future human history is not to a point of infinity, but rather to the event horizon surrounding a black hole. Densities are not infinite at the event horizon but merely large enough such that it is difficult to see past the event horizon from outside.
I say difficult rather than impossible because the Hawking radiation emitted from the event horizon is likely to be quantum entangled with events inside the black hole, so there may be ways of retrieving the information. This was the concession made recently by Hawking. However, without getting into the details of this controversy, it is fair to say that seeing past the event horizon is difficult (impossible from a classical physics perspective) because the gravity of the black hole is strong enough to prevent classical information from inside the black hole getting out.