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Design of a Primitive Nanofactory

December 4, 2003 by Chris Phoenix

Molecular manufacturing requires more than mechanochemistry. A single nanoscale fabricator cannot build macro-scale products. This paper describes the mechanisms, structures, and processes of a prototypical macro-scale, programmable nanofactory composed of many small fabricators. Power requirements, control of mechanochemistry, reliability in the face of radiation damage, convergent assembly processes and joint mechanisms, and product design are discussed in detail, establishing that the design should be capable of duplicating itself. Nanofactory parameters are derived from plausible fabricator parameters. The pre-design of a nanofactory and many products appears to be within today’s capabilities. Bootstrapping issues are discussed briefly, indicating that nanofactory development might occur quite soon after fabricator development. Given an assembler, a nanofactory appears feasible and worthwhile, and should be accounted for in assembler policy discussions.… read more

The Physical Constants as Biosignature: An anthropic retrodiction of the Selfish Biocosm Hypothesis

February 28, 2006 by James N. Gardner

Two recent discoveries have imparted a renewed sense of urgency to investigations of the anthropic qualities of our cosmos: the value of dark energy density is exceedingly small but not quite zero; and the number of different solutions permitted by M-theory is, in Susskind’s words, “astronomical, measured not in millions or billions but in googles or googleplexes.”… 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

Kurzweil vs. Dertouzos

March 7, 2001 by Ray Kurzweil, Michael L. Dertouzos

In this Technology Review article, Raymond Kurzweil and Michael Dertouzos debate Bill Joy’s Wired article urging “relinquishment” of research in certain risky areas of nanotechnology, genetics, and robotics.… read more

Consciousness Connects Our Brains to the Fundamental Level of the Universe

May 14, 2001 by Stuart Hameroff

Neurons alone aren’t sufficiently complex to explain consciousness and provide a computational model for thought, according to Stuart Hameroff. He wants to go smaller, into a universe of structures within neurons where quantum mechanics help formulate a physical theory of consciousness.… read more

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

The Economics of Innovation

August 6, 2001 by Ray Kurzweil

An examination of the changing nature of wealth, written for “The Futurecast,” a monthly column in the Library Journal.… read more

Are We Becoming An Endangered Species? Technology and Ethics in the 21st Century

November 8, 2001 by Washington National Cathedral

Are We Becoming an Endangered Species? Technology and Ethics in the 21st Century will bring together a panel of leading experts on November 19 at Washington National Cathedral in Washington, D.C. to explore the ethics of technological advances, especially as they relate to genetic engineering, nanotechnology and robotics. The panelists are Bill Joy, author, and co-founder and chief scientist of Sun Microsystems, Ray Kurzweil, author, inventor and president of Kurzweil Technologies, Anne Foerst, visiting professor for Theology and Computer Science at St. Bonaventure University and Bill McKibben, author, environmentalist and visiting scholar at Middlebury College.… read more

What does it mean to have an educated mind in the 21st century?

January 21, 2002 by Roger Schank

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.” Roger Schank asks: what is an educated mind in the 21st Century?… read more

Microbivores: Artificial Mechanical Phagocytes

April 11, 2002 by Robert A. Freitas Jr.

Nanorobotic “microbivores” traveling in the bloodstream could be 1000 times faster-acting than white blood cells and eradicate 1000 times more bacteria, offering a complete antimicrobial therapy without increasing the risk of sepsis or septic shock (as in traditional antibiotic regimens) and without release of biologically active effluents. They could also quickly rid the blood of nonbacterial pathogens such as viruses, fungus cells, or parasites.… read more

National Inventor Hall of Fame Acceptance Remarks

September 22, 2002 by Ray Kurzweil

The National Inventors Hall of Fame (NIHF) inducted Ray Kurzweil on Sept. 21, 2002. Sponsored by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office and Hewlett-Packard, the ceremony recognized Kurzweil for the Kurzweil Reading Machine and a lifetime of invention, including the first “omni-font” optical character recognition (OCR), the first CCD flat-bed scanner, the first full text-to-speech synthesizer, the first realistic-sounding electronic music synthesizer, and the first commercially marketed large-vocabulary speech recognition.… read more

Lunch with Mikhail Gorbachev

April 19, 2005 by Ray Kurzweil

With only 53,000 engineering graduates a year compared to Russia’s 200,000, the U.S. needs to “communicate the importance of science in today’s world,” Mikhail Gorbachev told Ray Kurzweil in a luncheon discussion that ranged from blogs to nuclear disarmament and longevity.… 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

Why Cryosuspension Makes Sense

April 3, 2001 by Terry Grossman

We’re all genetically programmed to die, but advances in nanomedicine are expected to allow for “radical life extension” by 2050. Meanwhile, there’s cryostasis–freezing the body immediately after death with a view toward resuscitation in the future.… read more

Existential Risks: Analyzing Human Extinction Scenarios and Related Hazards

May 29, 2001 by Nick Bostrom

Nick Bostrom defines a new category of risks that could threaten humanity and intelligent life with extinction: existential risks. The future could be a dangerous place indeed.… read more

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