essays collection By Author | A-Z

Engineering Humans, Part 1

March 28, 2001 by Rachel Massey

Genetic engineers are starting to modify human genes, using cloning, somatic cell manipulation, germline manipulation. The potential financial and health rewards are huge, but so are the risks.… read more

How are behaviors encoded in DNA?

January 21, 2002 by John McCarthy

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.” John McCarthy asks: how are behaviors encoded in DNA?… read more

Material Progress is Sustainable

February 21, 2001 by John McCarthy

Many people, including many scientists, mistakenly believe that human progress, in the form it has taken in the last few hundred years, is unsustainable,” says Stanford University Professor of Computer Science Dr. John McCarthy. In this article, he presents the scientific case for technological optimism.… read more

What Is Artificial Intelligence?

February 21, 2001 by John McCarthy

What exactly is “artificial intelligence” (AI)? Stanford University Professor of Computer Science Dr. John McCarthy, a pioneer in AI, answers this question in depth for beginners.… read more

How does the body react to medical nanodevices?

November 19, 2003 by Ralph C. Merkle

Nanomedicine, Volume IIA: Biocompatibility, the second volume in Robert A. Freitas, Jr.’s Nanomedicine series, has been published just in time to provide an authoritative scientific foundation to address the growing concerns about the biocompatibility of nanotechnology in the environmental and medical communities.… read more

It’s a Small, Small, Small, Small World

April 5, 2001 by Ralph C. Merkle

This introduction to nanotechnology by one of its pioneers is an extended version of the article published in the Feb/Mar 1997 issue of MIT Technology Review. It provides greater technical detail.… read more

Nanotechnology: What Will It Mean?

April 27, 2001 by Ralph C. Merkle

Ralph C. Merkle weighs in on the debate about the future of nanotechnology, considering its possible uses and abuses.… 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

Consciousness is a Big Suitcase

August 2, 2001 by Marvin Minsky

Is consciousness reducible to a set of mechanisms in the brain acting in concert? In this discussion with the Edge’s John Brockman, Marvin Minsky peers into the suitcase of the mind.… read more

The emotion universe

November 21, 2002 by Marvin Minsky

Why have we made limited progress in AI? Because we haven’t developed sophisticated models of thinking, we need better programming languages and architectures, and we haven’t focused on common sense problems that every normal child can solve.… read more

Letter from Hans Moravec

February 21, 2001 by Hans Moravec

In this March 25, 1999 Letter to New York Review of Books, Carnegie Mellon University Professor Hans Moravec counters John Searle’s “Chinese Room” argument, which attempts to show that machines cannot be conscious.… read more

Ripples and Puddles

February 21, 2001 by Hans Moravec

Roboticist Hans Moravec advocates a combination of reasoning Programs, neural modeling and perception programs in building intelligent machines. He visualizes a future generation of robots that think like primates, followed by a humanlike generation capable of reason.… read more

Robots, Re-Evolving Mind

March 27, 2001 by Hans Moravec

We are re-evolving artificial minds at ten million times the original speed of human evolution, exponentially growing robot complexity. Currently, a guppylike thousand MIPS and hundreds of megabytes of memory enable our robots to build dense, almost photorealistic 3D maps of their surroundings and navigate intelligently. Within three decades, fourth-generation universal robots with a humanlike 100 million MIPS will be able to abstract and generalize–perhaps replace us.… read more

The Senses Have No Future

May 15, 2001 by Hans Moravec

For Hans Moravec, our natural senses will swiftly become obsolete, as brain to computer interfaces become more common. Our physical environment will change as well, into what he calls a “densely connected cyberspace.” Do our senses serve just to exchange information?… read more

Embrace, Don’t Relinquish, the Future

February 21, 2001 by Max More

Extropy Institute head Max More finds Bill Joy’s Wired essay uninformed, unworkable, and even unethical because it will slow down progress in medicine and other vital areas, he believes.… read more

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