essays collection

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

The 10,000-Year Library

April 11, 2001 by Stewart Brand

Much of the information of the past–as well as the present–is endangered or lost forever. Underground rock vaults, “time mail,” and a museum built around a 10,000 year clock are some of the ideas for assuring that vital information survives future crashes of civilizations.… read more

How Nanotechnology Will Work

June 11, 2001

How will nanotechnology change the way goods are manufactured? Learn how nanomachines will manufacture products, and what impact nanotechnology will have on various industries in the coming decades.… read more

Who Owns Intelligence?

September 24, 2001 by Howard Gardner

Before intelligence can be enhanced or artificially created, it has to be defined; this excerpt from Howard Gardner’s Intelligence Reframed ponders the different ways in which intelligence is quantified and conceived.… read more

How to Live in a Simulation

January 14, 2002 by Robin Hanson

If you might be living in a simulation then all else equal you should care less about others, live more for today, make your world look more likely to become rich, expect to and try more to participate in pivotal events, be more entertaining and praiseworthy, and keep the famous people around you happier and more interested in you.… read more

Kenneth Jernigan’s Prophetic Vision:: Address to National Federation of the Blind Convention Banquet

July 9, 2002 by Ray Kurzweil

The accelerating growth of technology has brought opportunities to the blind but has also created barriers, says Ray Kurzweil. “At the end of this first decade of this new century, everyone will be on-line all the time with very high speed, wireless communication woven into their clothing. Within a couple of decades, we will have established new high bandwidth pathways of communication directly to and from our brains. Will this represent a great enabler for blind students and workers or a new set of obstructions?” Former National Federation of the Blind president Dr. Kenneth Jernigan’s vision of “the world’s first world-class research and training institute for the blind” should help.… read more

Molecular Manufacturing: Societal Implications of Advanced Nanotechnology

April 10, 2003 by Christine Peterson

The best way to reduce risks from molecular manufacturing would be an open, international R&D program with broad cooperation by the democracies, including a parallel arms control verification project. This requires a decision to pursue the goal and substantial funding. But both of these are currently blocked by the lack of consensus on the technical feasibility of molecular manufacturing. So we urgently need a basic feasibility review by unbiased scientists.… 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

The Need For Limits

March 24, 2006 by Chris Phoenix

Molecular manufacturing will give its wielders extreme power and has the potential to remove or bypass many of today’s limits, including laws. That could lead to a planet-wide dictatorship, or to any of several forms of irreversible destruction. Perhaps the biggest problem of all will be how to develop a system of near-absolute power that will not become corrupt.… read more

Humans and Machines Converge at ACM1

May 8, 2001 by Amara D. Angelica

Humanoid robots aren’t perfect, but they may have a thing or two to teach computers.… read more

Can Computers Decide?

July 6, 2001 by Roger Schank

A look at how computers make decisions. By saying computers can’t truly reason, are we being “fleshists?”… read more

The Future of Libraries, Part 2: The End of Books

August 6, 2001 by Ray Kurzweil

A look at what may replace books, written for “The Futurecast,” a monthly column in the Library Journal.… read more

Want to live to 200? Being a cyborg has advantages

November 2, 2001 by Garry Barker

Ray Kurzweil predicts that human identity will be called into question by the massive computers of the future.… 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

Why I Think I Will Win

April 9, 2002 by Mitch Kapor

Will a computer pass the Turing Test (convincingly impersonate a human) by 2029? Mitchell Kapor has bet Ray Kurzweil that a computer can’t because it lacks understanding of subtle human experiences and emotions.… read more

close and return to Home