essays collection By Author | Z-A

It Takes a Giant Cosmos to Create Life and Mind

February 2, 2007 by James N. Gardner

A new book, The Intelligent Universe, proposes that the universe might end in intelligent life, one that has acquired the capacity to shape the cosmos as a whole.… 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

Who Owns Intelligence?

September 24, 2001 by Howard Gardner

Before intelligence can be enhanced or artificially created, it has to be defined; this excerpt from Howard Gardner’s Intelligence Reframed ponders the different ways in which intelligence is quantified and conceived.… read more

Connectivity: What it is and why it is so important

February 11, 2002 by Bob Frankston

The difference between the network and the application is crucial to the future of the Internet. Bob Frankston points out that connectivity is the basic resource, telephony and television are simply applications built on connectivity, and that we should replace complex regulation with the power of the marketplace.… read more

Rethinking Operating Systems

February 11, 2002 by Bob Frankston

We know hardware has become exponentially faster, cheaper and smaller since the advent of the operating system, yet the interface hasn’t changed much. In this draft of an essay, Bob Frankston proposes a rethink of the assumptions that went into user interface design thirty years ago.… read more

Robot: Child of God

May 9, 2001 by Anne Foerst

Sometimes computers act as if they are possessed–does that mean they may have souls? Probably not right now, but Anne Foerst explores the possibility of soulful robots.… read more

Review: Vernor Vinge’s ‘Fast Times’

September 5, 2002 by Hal Finney

Vernor Vinge’s Hugo-award-winning short science fiction story “Fast Times at Fairmont High” takes place in a near future in which everyone lives in a ubiquitous, wireless, networked world using wearable computers and contacts or glasses on which computer graphics are projected to create an augmented reality.… read more

Some Challenges And Grand Challenges For Computational Intelligence

July 15, 2003 by Edward Feigenbaum

The Turing Test is a very ambitious Grand Challenge. The “Feigenbaum Test” is more manageable: focus on natural science, engineering, or medicine with conversation in the jargonized and stylized language of these disciplines. There are two other grand challenges in achieving Computational Intelligence: Build a large knowledge base by reading text, reducing knowledge engineering effort by one order of magnitude; and the “Grand Vision”: distill from the WWW a huge knowledge base, using ontologies and building a system of “semantics scrapers” that will access the semantic markups, integrate them appropriately into the growing knowledge base, and set up the material for the scrutiny of an editorial process.… read more

Techno-Utopia and Human Values

February 3, 2006 by Richard Eckersley

It is our preordained fate, Ray Kurzweil suggests, to advance technologically “until the entire universe is at our fingertips.” The question then becomes, preordained by whom or what? Biological evolution has not set this course for us. Is technology itself the planner?… 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

An Open Letter to Richard Smalley

April 16, 2003 by K. Eric Drexler

Dr. Richard Smalley has voiced criticisms of Dr. Eric Drexler’s concept of molecular assemblers, which could be used to implement self-replicating nanobots. Smalley, who discovered “fullerenes” (aka “buckyballs”), is Chairman of the Board of Carbon Nanotechnologies, Inc. and former director of Rice University’s Center for Nanoscale Science and Technology. Drexler, who coined the term “nanotechnology” and is Chairman of the Board of Foresight Institute, responds to these criticisms.… read more

Dialogue between Ray Kurzweil, Eric Drexler, and Robert Bradbury

December 3, 2002 by K. Eric Drexler, Ray Kurzweil, Robert Bradbury

What would it take to achieve successful cryonics reanimation of a fully functioning human brain, with memories intact? A conversation at the recent Alcor Conference on Extreme Life Extension between Ray Kurzweil and Eric Drexler sparked an email discussion of this question. They agreed that despite the challenges, the brain’s functions and memories can be represented surprisingly compactly, suggesting that successful reanimation of the brain may be achievable.… read more

Drexler Counters

December 1, 2003 by K. Eric Drexler

In this third in a series of letters addressing molecular assemblers, Eric Drexler responds to Prof. Richard Smalley’s response to Drexler’s original open letter. Countering Smalley’s argument that solution-phase chemistry is required, Drexler explains that nanofactories are instead based on mechanosynthesis — “machine-phase” chemistry — and “need no impossible fingers to control the motion of individual atoms within reactants.”… read more

Nanotechnology: Six Lessons from Sept. 11

December 13, 2001 by K. Eric Drexler

The Sept. 11 attacks confirmed the ongoing terrorist threat and the importance of proactive development of methods to prevent nanotech abuse, K. Eric Drexler, Chairman of the Foresight Institute said in a statement sent to institute members. The “nanotechnology boom” is beginning, he said, urging members to use their brains and their wallets to “ensure that the field of nanotechnology never has its own Sept. 11.”… read more

The Future of Nanotechnology: Molecular Manufacturing

April 14, 2003 by K. Eric Drexler

The future generations of nanotechnology will rely on being able to effectively arrange atoms. Molecular manufacturing, and the use of molecular assemblers to hold and position molecules, will be key to the future, controlling how molecules react and allowing scientists to build complex structures with atomically precise control. In this essay, Dr. Drexler discusses the benefits and challenges of future molecular manufacturing.… read more

close and return to Home