essays collection By Author | A-Z

A myopic perspective on AI

September 2, 2002 by Ray Kurzweil

In a recent Red Herring magazine article, writer Geoffrey James said “pundits can’t stop hyping the business opportunities of artificial intelligence” and described AI as a “technological backwater.” Ray Kurzweil challenges this view, citing “hundreds of examples of narrow AI deeply integrated into our information-based economy” and “many applications beginning to combine multiple methodologies,” a step towards the eventual achievement of “strong AI” (human-level intelligence in a machine).… read more

Glitches Reloaded

June 2, 2003 by Peter B. Lloyd

In Matrix Reloaded, how can Neo fly and use telekinesis if the Matrix is supposed to a physics simulation? Peter Lloyd decodes this and other technical enigmas–reverse-engineering the design of the Matrix and the “Meta-Matrix” of the underground Zion. And he delves into the rich philosophical and mythic elements of the film, such as the question of free will and who is the Architect and what does his speech tell us?… read more

Nano-Guns, Nano-Germs, and Nano-Steel

March 29, 2006 by Mike Treder

Within our lifetimes, we are likely to witness battles on a scale never before seen. Powered by molecular manufacturing, near-future wars may threaten our freedom, our way of life, and even our survival. Superior military technology allowed the Spanish to conquer the Incan empire in 1532. Could today’s most powerful civilization, the United States, be just as easily conquered by a nano-enabled attacker?… read more

How the Mind Works

February 21, 2001 by Steven Pinker

In this William James Book Prize Lecture, presented to the Annual Meeting of the American Psychological Association, August 1999, Steven Pinker, Department of Brain and Cognitive Sciences, MIT, attempts to describe how the mind works, using three key ideas: computation, evolution, and specialization.… read more

Wild Cards: The Nature of Big Future Surprises

March 7, 2001 by John Petersen

In the coming years, the world could experience a series of massively transformative events, or “wild cards,” brought on by radical developments in areas such as AI and nanotechnology. Futurist John Petersen suggests strategies for dealing with them proactively.… read more

Ambiguous Words

May 15, 2001 by George A. Miller

Understanding how humans process the subtlety of language is crucial to recreating the ability to understand natural language in computers. Dr. George Miller investigates the cognitive processes of resolving the vagueness in human language.… read more

Excerpts from The Spike: How Our Lives Are Being Transformed By Rapidly Advancing Technologies

July 26, 2001 by Damien Broderick

Damien Broderick takes us to the edge of a technological Singularity, where the Internet reaches critical mass of interconnectivity and “wakes up,” and mountain ranges may mysteriously appear out of nowhere. Then again, is the rampant techno-optimism surrounding the imminent Singularity just exponential bogosity?… read more

The Rights of Robots: Technology, Culture and Law in the 21st Century

August 6, 2001 by Sohail Inayatullah, Phil Mcnally

Robot rights are already part of judiciary planning–can sentient machines be far off? This discussion of robot rights looks in-depth at issues once reserved for humans only.… read more

The Computational Perspective

November 19, 2001 by Daniel Dennett

What does computation mean? Daniel Dennett discusses information architecture beyond the mechanized causation in computers and frames the question in terms of the organization of matter itself. What do models of computation tell us about the material world?… read more

How can a small number of genes build a complex mental machine?

January 21, 2002 by Gary F. Marcus

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.” Gary F. Marcus asks: how can genes build a mental machine?… read more

Exponential Growth an Illusion?: Response to Ilkka Tuomi

September 13, 2003 by Ray Kurzweil

Ray Kurzweil responds to Ilkka Tuomi’s essays, “The Lives and Death of Moore’s Law” and “Kurzweil, Moore, and Accelerating Change,” in which Tuomi challenges Kurzweil’s “law of accelerating returns” and the exponential growth of semiconductor technology.… read more

Are We Enlightened Guardians, Or Are We Apes Designing Humans?

May 22, 2006 by Douglas Mulhall

Thanks in part to molecular manufacturing, accelerated developments in AI and brain reverse-engineering could lead to the emergence of superintelligence in just 18 years. Are we ready for the implications — like possible annihilation of Homo sapiens? And will we seem to superintelligence what our ape-like ancestors seem to us: primitive?… read more

Life Extension and Overpopulation

April 9, 2001 by Max More

The prospect of life extension raises fears of overpopulation. Extropian Max More argues we should focus on reducing births, not on raising or maintaining death, since population growth and pollution are slowing down (from growing wealth) and in the future we can create new habitats in space.… read more

Raymond Kurzweil: Great Inventions

May 31, 2001

Since age 17, Ray Kurzweil has built companies, authored books and advised startups. UPSIDE magazine Editor in Chief Jerry Borrell recently caught up with this innovative thinker.… read more

The End Of Time: A Talk With Julian Barbour

August 3, 2001 by Julian Barbour

In this talk with the Edge’s John Brockman, Julian Barbour takes on the absolute framework of time. And if time truly doesn’t exist, could we, hypothetically, live forever?… read more

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