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The Inflationary Universe

May 1, 2003 by Alan Harvey Guth

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

Open-Source Biology And Its Impact on Industry

March 3, 2004 by Rob Carlson

Technology based on intentional, open-source biology is on its way, whether we like it or not. Distributed biological manufacturing is the future of the global economy and will occur as inexpensive, quality DNA sequencing and synthesis equipment becomes available to anyone. In 2050, garage biology hacking will be well under way. Fear of potential hazards should be met with increased research and education, rather than closing the door on the profound positive impacts that distributed biological technology will have on human health, human impacts on the environment, and increasing standards of living around the world.… read more

Nanotechnology Dangers and Defenses

March 27, 2006 by Ray Kurzweil

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

Simulating Reality

March 26, 2001 by Mike Weiner

Today’s VR simulators, some using powerful supercomputers, allow us to experience realities that would be impossible in the real world, but their history actually goes back to ingenious mechanical musical instruments of the 19th century.… read more

Excerpts from “One Half of a Manifesto”

July 30, 2001 by Jaron Lanier

Does the optimism of technologists blur the question of quantitative improvements in hardware versus a lack of qualititative improvements in software? Do they point the way towards an eschatological cataclysm in which doom is imminent?… read more

When Will HAL Understand What We Are Saying? Computer Speech Recognition and Understanding

August 6, 2001 by Ray Kurzweil

This chapter from HAL’s Legacy: 2001′s Computer as Dream and Reality addresses the accomplishments–and challenges–of automatic speech recognition. What kind of paradigm shift in computing will give HAL the ability to understand human context, and therefore truly speak?… read more

Inventing Modern America: Book Launch and Panel Discussion with Lemelson-Prize Inventors

November 28, 2001 by Lucas Hendrich

At a launch event for the book on November 27, 2001, five of them discussed their influences, dreams, and where future innovation should focus with the book’s author, David E. Brown, and Christopher Lydon, former host of National Public Radio’s call-in talk show “The Connection.”… read more

What Have We Learned a Year After NASDAQ Hit 5,000?

January 21, 2002 by Ray Kurzweil

The current recession reflects failure to develop realistic models of the pace at which new information-based technologies emerge and the overall acceleration of the flow of information. But in the longer-range view, recessions and recoveries reflect a relatively minor variability compared to the far more important trend of the underlying exponential growth of the economy.… read more

The New Humanist

May 14, 2002 by John Brockman

“Something radically new is in the air: new ways of understanding physical systems, new ways of thinking about thinking that call into question many of our basic assumptions. A realistic biology of the mind, advances in physics, electricity, genetics, neurobiology, engineering, the chemistry of materials—all are challenging basic assumptions of who and what we are, of what it means to be human. The arts and the sciences are again joining together as one culture, the third culture. Those involved in this effort—scientists, science-based humanities scholars, writers—are at the center of today’s intellectual action. They are the new humanists.”… read more

The emotion universe

November 21, 2002 by Marvin Minsky

Why have we made limited progress in AI? Because we haven’t developed sophisticated models of thinking, we need better programming languages and architectures, and we haven’t focused on common sense problems that every normal child can solve.… read more

Remarks about Tod Machover In Presenting the 2003 Ray Kurzweil Award of Technology in Music

August 11, 2003 by Ray Kurzweil

Ray Kurzweil presented the 2003 Ray Kurzweil Award of Technology in Music to Tod Machover at the Fourth Annual Telluride Tech Festival (August 8-10, 2003). The award was in recognition of Machover’s pioneering research at the MIT Media Lab in music technology, such as “hyperinstruments,” as well as his achievements as composer and performer.… read more

We Are the Web

January 19, 2006 by Kevin Kelly

The planet-sized “Web” computer is already more complex than a human brain and has surpassed the 20-petahertz threshold for potential intelligence as calculated by Ray Kurzweil. In 10 years, it will be ubiquitous. So will superintelligence emerge on the Web, not a supercomputer?… read more

Response to ‘The Singularity Is Always Near’

May 3, 2006 by Ray Kurzweil


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.

Prolegomenon to a General Biology

February 21, 2001 by Stuart Kauffman

Before artificially intelligent systems can emerge and become self-aware, there is the question: Whence life in the first place?… read more

There’s Plenty of Room at the Bottom

April 17, 2001 by Richard Feynman

Richard Feynman at Caltech giving his famous lecture he entitled "There's Plenty of Room at the Bottom."  (credit: California Institute of Technology)

This visionary speech that Richard Feynman gave on December 29th, 1959, at the annual meeting of the American Physical Society at the California Institute of Technology helped give birth to the now exploding field of nanotechnology.

I imagine experimental physicists must often look with envy at men like Kamerlingh Onnes, who discovered a field like low temperature, which seems to be bottomless and in which one can go down and down.

Such a man is then a leader and has some temporary monopoly in a scientific adventure. Percy Bridgman, in designing a way to obtain higher pressures, opened up another new field and was able to move into it and to lead us all along. The development of ever higher vacuum was a continuing development of the same kind.

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