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The Rights of Your Robots: Exclusion and Inclusion in History and Future

August 6, 2001 by Sohail Inayatullah

Sohail Inayatullah is preparing for a world in which machines become sentient and begin to demand rights–this article discusses how the machines will participate in their destiny.… read more

How can a small number of genes build a complex mental machine?

January 21, 2002 by Gary F. Marcus

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.” Gary F. Marcus asks: how can genes build a mental machine?… read more

The Alcor Conference on Extreme Life Extension

November 21, 2002 by Ray Kurzweil

On November 15-17, 2002, leaders in life extension and cryonics came together to explore how the emerging technologies of biotechnology, nanotechnology, and cryonics will enable humans to halt and ultimately reverse aging and disease and live indefinitely.… read more

Toward closure: Open letter to Prof. Smalley

July 18, 2003 by K. Eric Drexler

Prof. Richard Smalley has criticized Dr. Eric Drexler’s concept of molecular assemblers. But in recent testimony, Smalley appears to have reversed this position. Drexler, who coined the term “nanotechnology” and is Chairman of the Board of Foresight Institute, again calls for Smalley to clarify his position on what is “perhaps the most fundamental issue in the field today.”… read more

Ray Kurzweil’s Dangerous Idea: The near-term inevitability of radical life extension and expansion

January 17, 2006 by Ray Kurzweil

“What is your dangerous idea?” Over one hundred big thinkers answered this question, as part of The Edge’s Annual Question for 2006. Ray Kurzweil’s dangerous idea? We can achieve immortality in our lifetime.… read more

Empowering the Really Little Guys

April 9, 2006 by Glenn Harlan Reynolds

“Individuals are getting more and more powerful,” says author Glenn Reynolds in his insightful new book, An Army of Davids. “With the current rate of progress we’re seeing in biotechnology, nanotechnology, artificial intelligence, and other technologies, it seems likely that individuals will one day–and one day relatively soon–possess powers once thought available only to nation-states, superheroes, or gods. That sounds dramatic, but we’re already partway there”–and nanotechnology may be the “ultimate empowerer of ordinary people.”… read more

Prolegomenon to a General Biology

February 21, 2001 by Stuart Kauffman

Before artificially intelligent systems can emerge and become self-aware, there is the question: Whence life in the first place?… read more

There’s Plenty of Room at the Bottom

April 17, 2001 by Richard Feynman

Richard Feynman at Caltech giving his famous lecture he entitled "There's Plenty of Room at the Bottom."  (credit: California Institute of Technology)

This visionary speech that Richard Feynman gave on December 29th, 1959, at the annual meeting of the American Physical Society at the California Institute of Technology helped give birth to the now exploding field of nanotechnology.

I imagine experimental physicists must often look with envy at men like Kamerlingh Onnes, who discovered a field like low temperature, which seems to be bottomless and in which one can go down and down.

Such a man is then a leader and has some temporary monopoly in a scientific adventure. Percy Bridgman, in designing a way to obtain higher pressures, opened up another new field and was able to move into it and to lead us all along. The development of ever higher vacuum was a continuing development of the same kind.

If Uploads Come First

June 5, 2001 by Robin Hanson

What if we obtain the ability to upload our minds to an artificial medium? What if we can copy ourselves? In this 1994 essay, Robin Hanson looks at the possible social impacts of this question and how human values may evolve.… read more

May the Smartest Machine Win: Warfare in the 21st Century

August 6, 2001 by Ray Kurzweil

How technology is changing the ways in which wars are fought, written for “The Futurecast,” a monthly column in the Library Journal.… read more

We Earth Neurons

September 18, 2001 by Daniel Dennett

Daniel Dennett on knowledge sharing and the fate of the planet, in which he contrasts individuals and their brains with the trillions of neurons that compose them. The planet has grown its own nervous system: us.… read more

Software, Property and Human Civilization

December 19, 2001 by Jordan Pollack

In this Edge talk, Jordan Pollack discusses a phenomenon that may restrict innovation: the inability to buy products, due to the established model of software licensing. What are the implications for human civilization?… 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

A New Kind of Science: Analysis

June 24, 2002 by Scott Aaronson

This review of Stephen Wolfram’s new book addresses weaknesses in Wolfram’s notions of computational complexity, general relativity, quantum mechanics, and the Bell inequality violation.… read more

Personal Fabrication

October 31, 2003 by Neil Gershenfeld

The next big thing in computers will be personal fabrication: allowing anyone to make fully functioning systems — with print semiconductors for logic, inks for displays, three-dimensional mechanical structures, motors, sensors, and actuators. Post-digital literacy now includes 3D machining and microcontroller programming. For a few thousand dollars, a little tabletop milling machine can measure its position down to microns, so you can fabricate the structures of modern technology, such as circuit boards.… read more

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