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Essay for E-School News

October 2, 2003 by Ray Kurzweil

Speaking at the 18th Annual Conference on “Technology and Persons with Disabilities” at California State University Northridge in March 2003, Ray Kurzweil described how key developments in science and technology will affect society, alter education and other fields, and benefit everyone, especially those with disabilities. This article is based on that address.… read more

Molecular Manufacturing: Start Planning

October 9, 2003 by Chris Phoenix

Molecular nanotechnology manufacturing is coming soon. The economic value–and military significance–of a nanofactory will be immense. But if a well-designed plan is not in place, serious risks will very likely lead to military destruction, social or economic disruption or unnecessary human suffering on a large scale. Here’s what needs to be done.… read more

The Future of Music in the Age of Spiritual Machines

October 13, 2003 by Ray Kurzweil

We are moving towards an era of software-based musical instruments, intelligent accompanists, and music as information, says Ray Kurzweil in highlights from his keynote speech at the 2003 Audio Engineering Society convention.… read more

The technology of universal intelligence

October 16, 2003 by Ray Kurzweil

Levels of intelligence far greater than our own are going to evolve within this century. We will ultimately saturate all of the matter and energy in our area of the universe with our intelligence.… read more

How to Build a Virtual Human

October 20, 2003 by Peter Plantec

Virtual Humans is the first book with instructions on designing a “V-human,” or synthetic person. Using the programs on the included CD, you can create animated computer characters who can speak, dialogue intelligently, show facial emotions, have a personality and life story, and be used in real business projects. These excerpts explain how to get started.… 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

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

Nanomedicine

November 18, 2003 by Robert A. Freitas Jr.

In Nanomedicine, Vol. I: Basic Capabilities, first in the four-volume Nanomedicine technical book series, Robert A. Freitas, Jr. offers a pioneering and fascinating glimpse into a molecular-nanotechnology future with far-reaching implications for the medical profession — and ultimately for the radical improvement and extension of natural human biological structure and function.… 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

The Drexler-Smalley debate on molecular assembly

December 1, 2003 by Ray Kurzweil

Nanotechnology pioneer Eric Drexler and Rice University Professor and Nobelist Richard Smalley have engaged in a crucial debate on the feasibility of molecular assembly. Smalley’s position, which denies both the promise and the peril of molecular assembly, will ultimately backfire and will fail to guide nanotechnology research in the needed constructive direction, says Ray Kurzweil. By the 2020s, molecular assembly will provide tools to effectively combat poverty, clean up ourread 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

Design of a Primitive Nanofactory

December 4, 2003 by Chris Phoenix

Molecular manufacturing requires more than mechanochemistry. A single nanoscale fabricator cannot build macro-scale products. This paper describes the mechanisms, structures, and processes of a prototypical macro-scale, programmable nanofactory composed of many small fabricators. Power requirements, control of mechanochemistry, reliability in the face of radiation damage, convergent assembly processes and joint mechanisms, and product design are discussed in detail, establishing that the design should be capable of duplicating itself. Nanofactory parameters are derived from plausible fabricator parameters. The pre-design of a nanofactory and many products appears to be within today’s capabilities. Bootstrapping issues are discussed briefly, indicating that nanofactory development might occur quite soon after fabricator development. Given an assembler, a nanofactory appears feasible and worthwhile, and should be accounted for in assembler policy discussions.… 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

A Dialogue on Reincarnation

January 6, 2004 by Ray Kurzweil

If you were offered physical immortality as a “Wallerstein brain” (a human brain maintained in a jar interfacing to a virtual reality through its sensory and motor neurons), would you accept it? The question came up in an email dialogue about reincarnation between Ray Kurzweil and Steve Rabinowitz, a practicing attorney in New York City (which he says may explain his need to believe in reincarnation).… read more

Kurzweil’s Law (aka “the law of accelerating returns”)

January 12, 2004 by Ray Kurzweil

In an evolutionary process, positive feedback increases order exponentially. A correlate is that the “returns” of an evolutionary process (such as the speed, cost-effectiveness, or overall “power” of a process) increase exponentially over time — both for biology and technology. Ray Kurzweil submitted on essay based on that premise to Edge.org in response to John Brockman’s question: “What’s your law?”… read more

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