essays collection

If we are lucky, our pets may keep us as pets

January 18, 2002 by Brad Templeton

The first super-intelligent beings may not be based on humans at all, but on apes. Since moral and legal considerations will limit experimentation with human brain uploading, scientists may first turn to apes, and they may quickly enhance themselves. Could they become our overlords, la Planet of the Apes?… read more

Immortality

April 26, 2001

Vivekananda attempts to answer the question: are we mortal or immortal? If we are mortal, no further questions need be asked. But if we are immortal, what are the logical arguments that support this idea and what is it that endures after death? From his talk delivered over one hundred years ago.

What question has been asked a greater number of times, what idea has led men more to search the universe for an answer, what question is nearer and dearer to the human heart, what question is more inseparably connected with our existence, than this one, the immortality of the human soul? It has been the theme of poets and sages, of priests and prophets; kings on the throne have discussed it, beggars in the street have dreamt of it. The best of humanity have approached it, and the worst of men have hoped for it. The interest in the theme has not died yet, nor will it die so long a human nature exists. Various answers have been presented to the world by various minds. Thousands, again, in every period of history have given up the discussion, and yet the question remains fresh as ever. Often in the turmoil and struggle of our lives we seem to forget it, but suddenly some one dies — one, perhaps, whom we loved, one near and dear to our hearts, is snatched away from us — and the struggle, the din and turmoil of the world around us, cease for a moment, and the soul asks the old question, “What after this? What becomes of the soul?”

In Response to

July 25, 2001 by Ray Kurzweil

Although George Gilder and Richard Vigilante share Ray Kurzweil’s grave concerns about Bill Joy’s apparently neo-Luddite calls for relinguishing broad areas of technology, Kurzweil is critical of Gilder and Vigilante’s skepticism regarding the feasibility of the dangers.… read more

Infinite Memory and Bandwidth: Implications for Artificial Intelligence

February 21, 2001 by Raj Reddy

Not to worry about superintelligent machines taking over, says AI pioneer Dr. Raj Reddy. A more likely scenario: people who can think and act 1000 times faster, using personal intelligent agents.… read more

Intelligence as an Emergent Behavior or, The Songs of Eden

May 2, 2002 by W. Daniel Hillis

Could we build a thinking machine by simply hooking together a large network of artificial neurons and waiting for intelligence to spontaneously emerge? Not likely, but by studying the properties of biological and emergent systems, a carefully constructed network of artificial neurons could be inoculated with thought, similar to yeast’s role in making beer. The clue may be in the “songs” of apes.… read more

Intelligence Augmentation

August 6, 2001 by Pattie Maes

Machine consciousness may not be a matter of replicating total human thought capacity–it may come in several small, specialized parts. In this discussion with the Edge’s John Brockman, Pattie Maes discusses IA (Intelligence Augmentation) as opposed to AI.… read more

Intelligence, Computer and Human: A Discussion with Howard Gardner

October 2, 2001 by Howard Gardner, Ray Kurzweil

Ray Kurzweil and Howard Gardner discuss education, technology, pattern recognition and collecting electronic parts on Canal Street.… read more

Interview with Michael Behar for a story in WIRED on Tactical Mobile Robots

February 26, 2002 by Michael Behar

Ray Kurzweil discusses how robots will think on their feet with the help of virtual reality and other technological advances.… read more

Interview with Robert A. Freitas Jr. Part 1

February 2, 2006 by Sander Olson, Robert A. Freitas Jr.

Robert A. Freitas Jr. has written pioneering books on nanomedicine,
nanorobots, and molecular manufacturing. What’s next? The last two books in the Nanomedicine series and a book on fundamentals of nanomechanical engineering, extending Eric Drexler’s classic Nanosystems, he reveals in this interview.… read more

Interview with Robert A. Freitas Jr. Part 2

February 2, 2006 by Robert A. Freitas Jr., Sander Olson

There are very few diseases or conditions–including infectious diseases–aside from physical brain damage, that cannot be cured using nanomedicine, says nanomedicine pioneer Robert A. Freitas Jr. He believes nanomedicine’s greatest power will emerge in a decade or two as we learn to design and construct complete artificial nanorobots using diamondoid nanometer-scale parts and subsystems.… read more

Interview: How much do we need to know?

July 10, 2006 by Bill Joy

To limit access to risky information and technologies by bioterrorists, we should price catastrophe into the cost of doing business, rather than regulate things, says Bill Joy. Things judged to be dangerous would be expensive, and the most expensive would be withdrawn.… read more

Interview: Robert Moog

January 29, 2002 by Billy Bob Hargus

Robert Moog, inventor and electronic music pioneer, introduced the synthesizer to the world in the 1960s, as well as a spooky sounding device called the theremin. Here he discusses what led to these innovations in sound.… 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

Is A Singularity Just Around The Corner?

June 4, 2001 by Robin Hanson

Robin Hanson explores the economics of the Singularity.… read more

Is AI Near a Takeoff Point?

March 28, 2006 by J. Storrs Hall

Computers built by nanofactories may be millions of times more powerful than anything we have today, capable of creating world-changing AI in the coming decades. But to avoid a dystopia, the nature (and particularly intelligence) of government (a giant computer program — with guns) will have to change.… read more

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