essays collection

From cosmism to deism

January 18, 2011 by Hugo de Garis

The rise of artilects (artificial intellects, i.e., godlike massively intelligent machines with intellectual capacities trillions of trillions of times above the human level) in this century makes the existence of a deity (a massively intelligent entity capable of creating a universe) seem much more plausible.

There are now thousands of AI scientists around the world (concentrated largely in the English-speaking countries) who feel that… read more

Foreword to Virtual Humans

October 20, 2003 by Ray Kurzweil

By the end of this decade, we will have full-immersion visual-auditory environments, populated by realistic-looking virtual humans. These technologies are evolving today at an accelerating pace, as reflected in the book Virtual Humans. By the 2030s, virtual reality will be totally realistic and compelling and we will spend most of our time in virtual environments. By the 2040s, even people of biological origin are likely to have the vast majority of their thinking processes taking place in nonbiological substrates. We will all become virtual humans.… read more

Foreword to ‘The Eternal E-Customer’ (book by Bryan Bergeron)

July 26, 2001 by Ray Kurzweil

How have advances in electronic communications changed power relationships? The toppling of a government provides one not-so-subtle example. Ray Kurzweil talks about those advances in this forward to The Eternal E-Customer, a book that looks at the principles companies must adopt to meet the needs and desires of this new kind of customer.… read more

Foreword to Electronic Reporting in the Digital Medical Enterprise

June 6, 2003 by Ray Kurzweil

Doctors in the year 2012 will have access to full-immersion virtual-reality training and surgical systems, microchip-based protein and gene analysis systems, knowledge-based systems providing automated guidance and access to the most recent medical research, and always-present visual displays of patient data for instant interaction via voice.… read more

Foreword to ‘Dark Ages II’ (book by Bryan Bergeron)

July 26, 2001 by Ray Kurzweil

Our civilization’s knowledge legacy is at great risk, growing exponentially with the exploding size of our knowledge bases. And that doesn’t count the trillions of bytes of information stored in our brains, which eventually will be captured in the future. How long do we want our lives and thoughts to last?… read more

Foresight call to action

December 16, 2003 by Christine Peterson

Despite the revolutionary promise of molecular nanotechnology (MNT), the U.S. National Nanotechnology Initiative (NNI) excludes explicit funding for MNT. The recent Drexler-Smalley debate in Chemical & Engineering News offers an opportunity to correct that. Foresight president Christine Peterson suggests how.… read more

Forecasts and Alternative Futures

February 19, 2002 by Sohail Inayatullah

This third chapter from Situating Sarkar:Tantra, Macrohistory and Alternative Futures explores non-Western future visions, where progress can be seen in a more spiritual than materialistic light, through the eyes of poet and visionary Prabhat Rainjan Sarkar.… read more

Food For Thought

September 27, 2001 by David Dalrymple

Ten-year-old college student David Dalrymple recently spoke at the International Food Policy Research Institute’s “Sustainable Food Security for All by 2020″ Conference, sharing some suggestions about solutions to world hunger and regulation of food and drugs. This paper, written months before his presentation, has some of the ideas he shared at the conference.… read more

Finishing the Unfinished Revolution

February 21, 2001 by Michael L. Dertouzos

In this manifesto, Dr. Dertouzos introduces a radical vision of human-centered computing intended to make computers more usable, based on natural interaction (such as speech recognition), automation, individualized information access, collaboration, and customization. MIT’s Oxygen project, a prototype to test these concepts, is summarized in this excerpt from The Unfinished Revolution (HarperCollins, 2001),… read more

Femtotech: Computing at the femtometer scale using quarks and gluons

October 29, 2011 by Hugo de Garis

How the properties of quarks and gluons can be used (in principle) to perform computation at the femtometer (10^-15 meter) scale.

I’ve been thinking on and off for two decades about the possibility of a femtotech. Now that nanotech is well established, and well funded, I feel that the time is right to start thinking about the possibility of a femtotech.

You may ask, “What about picotech?”… 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

Exponential Growth an Illusion?: Response to Ilkka Tuomi

September 13, 2003 by Ray Kurzweil

Ray Kurzweil responds to Ilkka Tuomi’s essays, “The Lives and Death of Moore’s Law” and “Kurzweil, Moore, and Accelerating Change,” in which Tuomi challenges Kurzweil’s “law of accelerating returns” and the exponential growth of semiconductor technology.… read more

Exploring the ‘Singularity’

June 6, 2003 by James John Bell

The point in time when current trends may go wildly off the charts–known as the “Singularity”–is now getting serious attention. What it suggests is that technological change will soon become so rapid that we cannot possibly envision its results.… 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

Excerpts from The Spike: How Our Lives Are Being Transformed By Rapidly Advancing Technologies

July 26, 2001 by Damien Broderick

Damien Broderick takes us to the edge of a technological Singularity, where the Internet reaches critical mass of interconnectivity and “wakes up,” and mountain ranges may mysteriously appear out of nowhere. Then again, is the rampant techno-optimism surrounding the imminent Singularity just exponential bogosity?… read more

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