essays collection By Author | A-Z

Engineering Humans, Part 1

March 28, 2001 by Rachel Massey

Genetic engineers are starting to modify human genes, using cloning, somatic cell manipulation, germline manipulation. The potential financial and health rewards are huge, but so are the risks.… read more

Encompassing Education

September 17, 2002 by Diana Walczak

Students in the 2020s will explore knowledge in customized, full-immersive, 3-D learning environments, able to see, hear, smell, and touch simulated objects and interact with synthespians to foster a heightened sense of curiosity, says Diana Walczak, Artistic Director and Cofounder, Kleiser-Walczak.… 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

Embrace, Don’t Relinquish, the Future

February 21, 2001 by Max More

Extropy Institute head Max More finds Bill Joy’s Wired essay uninformed, unworkable, and even unethical because it will slow down progress in medicine and other vital areas, he believes.… read more


February 7, 2007 by Sir Arthur C. Clarke

The Golden Age of space travel is still ahead of us. Over the next 50 years, thousands of people will gain access to the orbital realm — and then, to the Moon and beyond, says Sir Arthur, 89.… read 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

Don’t let Crichton’s Prey scare you–the science isn’t real

January 26, 2003 by Chris Phoenix

A review of Michael Crichton’s Prey, a novel featuring out-of-control, self-replicating nanotechnology.… read more

Discovery Today Discussion of Machine Consciousness

July 26, 2001 by Discovery Today, Hugo de Garis

Hugo de Garis, brain builder, feels the weight of a future conflict between humans and the artificially intelligent beings they have created. Sir Roger Penrose is skeptical, and Robert Llewellyn is curious. See a discussion between the three.… read more

Diary of an Immortal Man

May 22, 2001 by Richard Dooling

What would it be like to live forever? Writer Richard Dooling explores this question in this fictional piece from Esquire.… read more

Dialogue between Ray Kurzweil, Eric Drexler, and Robert Bradbury

December 3, 2002 by K. Eric Drexler, Ray Kurzweil, Robert Bradbury

What would it take to achieve successful cryonics reanimation of a fully functioning human brain, with memories intact? A conversation at the recent Alcor Conference on Extreme Life Extension between Ray Kurzweil and Eric Drexler sparked an email discussion of this question. They agreed that despite the challenges, the brain’s functions and memories can be represented surprisingly compactly, suggesting that successful reanimation of the brain may be achievable.… 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

Deep Fritz Draws: Are Humans Getting Smarter, or Are Computers Getting Stupider?

October 20, 2002 by Ray Kurzweil

The Deep Fritz computer chess software only achieved a draw in its recent chess tournament with Vladimir Kramnik because it has available only about 1.3% as much brute force computation as the earlier Deep Blue’s specialized hardware. Despite that, it plays chess at about the same level because of its superior pattern recognition-based pruning algorithm. In six years, a program like Deep Fritz will again achieve Deep Blue’s ability to analyze 200 million board positions per second. Deep Fritz-like chess programs running on ordinary personal computers will routinely defeat all humans later in this decade.… read more

Death is an Outrage

January 10, 2003 by Robert A. Freitas Jr.

Each year, we allow a destruction of knowledge equivalent to three Libraries of Congress with an average value of about $2 million dollars for each human life lost. The solution: “dechronification”–nanomedicine tools that can arrest biological aging and reduce your biological age.… read more

Dear PC: R.I.P.

February 21, 2001 by Ray Kurzweil

Ray Kurzweil’s vision of the post-PC future includes nanobots and fully immersive virtual reality.… read more

Cyborg Babies and Cy-Dough-Plasm

May 23, 2001 by Sherry Turkle

The way in which children interact with virtual worlds reveals insights into how we think of ourselves in virtual worlds. Sherry Turkle uses her observations of children to explore issues of consciousness and self in the context of virtual reality.… read more

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