essays collection By Author | A-Z

The Last Human

June 5, 2002 by Gregory Stock

We are on the cusp of profound biological change, poised to transcend our current form and character on a journey to destinations of new imagination. The arrival of safe, reliable germline technology will signal the beginning of human self-design. Progressive self-transformation could change our descendants into something sufficiently different from our present selves to not be human in the sense we use the term now. But the ultimate question of our era is whether the cutting edge of life is destined to shift from its present biological substrate — the carbon and other organic materials of our flesh — to that of silicon and its ilk, as proposed by leading artificial-intelligence theorists such as Hans Moravec and Ray Kurzweil.… read more

Kurzweil responds to Edge challenge, advises Bush

January 26, 2003 by Ray Kurzweil

In a hypothetical letter to President Bush, Ray Kurzweil advised him to accelerate FDA review of defensive solutions for bioengineered pathogens, fund a crash program for developing promising new methodologies for human somatic cell engineering, and perfect hydrogen fuel cells, which could have major implications for the economy, the environment, and the geopolitics of oil.… read more

Runaway Artificial Intelligence?

February 3, 2006 by J. Storrs Hall

Synthetic computer-based artificial intelligence will become available well before nanotechnology makes neuron-level brain scans possible in the 2020s — it’s already a short step to computer systems that make better decisions than corporate managers do, says J. Storrs Hall.… read more

Corporate Cornucopia: Examining the Special Implications of Commercial MNT Development

May 24, 2006 by Michael Vassar

Molecular nanotech is the largest commercial opportunity of all time. But it may also create severe roadblocks and risks, including terrorism, unstable arms races, competitive pricing, restrictive patents, import opposition, economic disruption, and out-of-control AI.… read more

THE AGE of INTELLIGENT MACHINES | Knowledge Processing–From File Servers to Knowledge Servers

February 21, 2001

This chapter from The Age of Intelligent Machines (published in 1990) addresses the history and development of AI, and where it was headed, circa 1990.… read more

The Transhumanist FAQ

April 30, 2001 by Nick Bostrom

This FAQ, written by Nick Bostrom (with the help of others—see endnote), outlines the principles of transhumanism and provides definitions of transhumanist terms and resources. This is one of many versions of the “Transhumanist FAQ” that can be found on many websites, per organization or individual.… read more

The Invisible Brain

July 2, 2001 by Robert Wright

How do societies evolve toward greater complexity in culture and technology? Robert Wright posits that there is an “invisible brain” at work.… read more

A Formula for Intelligence: The Recursive Paradigm

August 6, 2001 by Ray Kurzweil

An explanation of the recursive approach to artificial intelligence, written for “The Futurecast,” a monthly column in the Library Journal.… read more

How to stop commercial air hijackings without inconveniencing air travelers

October 4, 2001 by Steve Kirsch

Silicon Valley entrepreneur Steve Kirsch has an idea for preventing skyjacking: we install panic buttons that put the plane on forced autopilot, randomly select one of the nearest airports capable of accommodating that plane type, and automatically land the aircraft.… read more

What kind of system of ‘coding’ of semantic information does the brain use?

January 21, 2002 by Daniel Dennett

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.” Daniel Dennett asks: how does the brain code semantic information?… 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

Congressional hearing addresses public concerns about nanotech

April 13, 2003 by Amara D. Angelica

Concerns about the possible negative consequences of nanotech may stifle vital nanotech research that could otherwise result in medical and other important breakthroughs. Expert witnesses at a congressional hearing recommended wider public debate, greater resources to develop defensive technology, and funding of societal, ethical, and environmental impact studies along with technology forecasting and basic science studies.… read more

Our Bodies, Our Technologies: Ray Kurzweil’s Cambridge Forum Lecture (Abridged)

March 16, 2006 by Ray Kurzweil

In the 2020s, we’ll see nanobots, blood-cell-sized devices that can go inside the body and brain to perform therapeutic functions. But what happens when we have billions of nanobots inside the capillaries of our brains, non-invasively, widely distributed, expanding human intelligence, or providing full-immersion virtual reality?… 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

Artificial Intelligence in the World Wide Web

March 7, 2001 by David G. Stork

The Internet is a new metaphor for the human brain. It makes it possible for hundreds of millions of Web users to teach computers common-sense knowledge, similar to SETI@home’s search for E.T., says Dr. David G. Stork, a leading AI researcher. This can even be accomplished just by playing games on the Net.… read more

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