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Consciousness in Human and Robot Minds

June 6, 2002 by Daniel Dennett

AI skeptics offer several reasons why robots could never become conscious. MITs’ humanoid Cog robot project may give them pause.… read more

Beyond Computation: A Talk with Rodney Brooks

June 7, 2002 by John Brockman

Rodney Brooks is trying to build robots with properties of living systems. These include self-reproducing and self-assembling robots and one inspired by Bill Joy that wanders around the corridors, finds electrical outlets, and plugs itself in. His students’ edgy projects include real-time MRI imagery, virtual colonoscopies, programs that create DNA for E. coli molecules that act as computers, and eventually, self-organizing smart biomaterials that grow into objects, such as a table.… read more

Singularity Chat with Vernor Vinge and Ray Kurzweil

June 13, 2002 by Vernor Vinge, Ray Kurzweil

Vernor Vinge (screen name “vv”) and Ray Kurzweil (screen name “RayKurzweil”) recently discussed The Singularity — their idea that superhuman machine intelligence will soon exceed human intelligence — in an online chat room co-produced by Analog Science Fiction and Fact and Asimov’s Science Fiction magazine on SCIFI.COM. Vinge, a noted science fiction writer, is the author of the seminal paper, “The Technological Singularity.” Kurzweil’s The Singularity Is Near book is due out in early 2003 and is previewed in “The Law of Accelerating Returns.” (Note: typos corrected and comments aggregated for readability.)… read more

A New Kind of Science: Analysis

June 24, 2002 by Scott Aaronson

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

Richard Feynman and The Connection Machine

June 24, 2002 by W. Daniel Hillis

Nobel prize winner physicist Richard Feynman played a critical role in developing the first parallel-processing computer and finding innovative uses for it in numerical computing and building neural networks as well as physical simulation with cellular-automata (such as turbulent fluid flow), working with Stephen Wolfram.… read more

A Simple Model of Unbounded Evolutionary Versatility as a Largest-Scale Trend in Organismal Evolution

June 25, 2002 by Peter D. Turney

The idea that there are large-scale trends in the evolution of biological organisms, such as increasing complexity, is highly controversial. But Peter Turney presents a simple computational model showing that local adaptation to a dynamic, randomly changing environment results in a global trend towards increasing evolutionary versatility, which implies an accelerating evolutionary pace, and that this trend can continue without bound if there is sufficient ongoing change in the environment.… read more

On the Search for the Neural Correlate of Consciousness

June 26, 2002 by David Chalmers

There’s a variety of proposed neural systems associated with conscious experience, but no way to directly observe or measure consciousness. Chalmers suggests though that there may be a “consciousness module” — a functional area responsible for the integration of information in the brain, with high-bandwidth communication between its parts.… read more

Kenneth Jernigan’s Prophetic Vision:: Address to National Federation of the Blind Convention Banquet

July 9, 2002 by Ray Kurzweil

The accelerating growth of technology has brought opportunities to the blind but has also created barriers, says Ray Kurzweil. “At the end of this first decade of this new century, everyone will be on-line all the time with very high speed, wireless communication woven into their clothing. Within a couple of decades, we will have established new high bandwidth pathways of communication directly to and from our brains. Will this represent a great enabler for blind students and workers or a new set of obstructions?” Former National Federation of the Blind president Dr. Kenneth Jernigan’s vision of “the world’s first world-class research and training institute for the blind” should help.… read more

Tangible Nanomoney

July 9, 2002 by Robert A. Freitas Jr.

Robert Freitas, author of the recently-published groundbreaking technical book Nanomedicine, reflects on how we might pay for very advanced medicine — or indeed, pay for anything at all — in a world where artificial molecular machine systems are commonplace. Hint: Perhaps we’ll be using coins made of tantalum or ununquadium!… read more

What Shape are a German Shepherd’s Ears?

July 17, 2002 by Stephen M. Kosslyn

There is a gigantic project yet to be done that will root psychology in natural science and providing a better understanding of human nature. Once this is accomplished, you’ll be able to go from phenomenology to information processing to the brain, down through the workings of the neurons, including the biochemistry, all the way to the biophysics and the way genes are up-regulated and down-regulated.… read more

Technology Fear Factor

July 21, 2002 by Daintry Duffy, Sari Kalin

Three futurists — George Gilder, Ray Kurzweil, and Jaron Lanier — agree that emerging dangerous technologies will require smarter defenses, such as standards diversity, decentralized systems, a transparent society, better communications between factions, and mutually beneficial collaboration of business leaders.… read more

Live Moderated Chat: Are We Spiritual Machines?

July 24, 2002 by Ray Kurzweil, Jay W. Richards, William A. Dembski

On July 19, 2001, the International Society for Complexity, Information, and Design hosted an online chat with Ray Kurzweil, Jay Richards, and William Dembski, three of the co-authors of the new book, Are We Spiritual Machines? Ray Kurzweil vs. the Critics of Strong A.I. The discussion focused on the nature of consciousness, free will vs. determinism, complexity, and implications of the eroding boundary between humans and intelligent machines.… read more

Facing Up to the Problem of Consciousness

August 17, 2002 by David Chalmers

The vague term “consciousness” poses the most baffling problems in the science of the mind. Philosopher David Chalmers presents a nonreductive theory of consciousness based on principles of structural coherence (tied to awareness) and organizational invariance (e.g., a silicon isomorph of a human can be conscious) and a double-aspect view of information (physical and phenomenal aspects).… read more

Essentials of general intelligence: the direct path to AGI

August 22, 2002 by Peter Voss

Adaptive AI's General Framework

General intelligence comprises the essential, domain-independent skills necessary for acquiring a wide range of domain-specific knowledge — the ability to learn anything. Achieving this with “artificial general intelligence” (AGI) requires a highly adaptive, general-purpose system that can autonomously acquire an extremely wide range of specific knowledge and skills and can improve its own cognitive ability through self-directed learning. This chapter in the forthcoming book, Real AI: New Approaches to Artificial General Intelligence, describes the requirements and conceptual design of a prototype AGI system.… read more

Reflections on S1m0ne

August 25, 2002 by Ray Kurzweil

The movie Simone presents an “unrealistic notion of how technology is introduced to the world,” says Ray Kurzweil in this review. He examines this portrayal from the perspective of his own transformation at the TED conference into Ramona, the state of the art for real-time virtual personality transformation two years ago.… read more

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