essays collection

Who Will Rule the 21st Century?

May 25, 2008 by Jack Welch

Straight-line extrapolation shows that China and India, with their faster growth rates, will eventually catch up to the U.S. in terms of pure economic size. But America has a final competitive advantage: its confluence of bright, hungry entrepreneurs and flush, eager investors; and its stable, highly adaptable system.… read more

Essay collection | The Ray Kurzweil Reader

July 10, 2003

The Ray Kurzweil Reader is a collection of essays by Ray Kurzweil on virtual reality, artificial intelligence, radical life extension, conscious machines, the promise and peril of technology, and other aspects of our future world. These essays, published  from 2001 to 2003, are now available as a PDF document for convenient downloading and offline reading. The 30 essays, organized in seven topic areas (such as “How to Build a Brain”), cover subjects… read more

Robots, Re-Evolving Mind

March 27, 2001 by Hans Moravec

We are re-evolving artificial minds at ten million times the original speed of human evolution, exponentially growing robot complexity. Currently, a guppylike thousand MIPS and hundreds of megabytes of memory enable our robots to build dense, almost photorealistic 3D maps of their surroundings and navigate intelligently. Within three decades, fourth-generation universal robots with a humanlike 100 million MIPS will be able to abstract and generalize–perhaps replace us.… read more

Immortality

April 26, 2001

Vivekananda attempts to answer the question: are we mortal or immortal? If we are mortal, no further questions need be asked. But if we are immortal, what are the logical arguments that support this idea and what is it that endures after death? From his talk delivered over one hundred years ago.

What question has been asked a greater number of times, what idea has led men more to search the universe for an answer, what question is nearer and dearer to the human heart, what question is more inseparably connected with our existence, than this one, the immortality of the human soul? It has been the theme of poets and sages, of priests and prophets; kings on the throne have discussed it, beggars in the street have dreamt of it. The best of humanity have approached it, and the worst of men have hoped for it. The interest in the theme has not died yet, nor will it die so long a human nature exists. Various answers have been presented to the world by various minds. Thousands, again, in every period of history have given up the discussion, and yet the question remains fresh as ever. Often in the turmoil and struggle of our lives we seem to forget it, but suddenly some one dies — one, perhaps, whom we loved, one near and dear to our hearts, is snatched away from us — and the struggle, the din and turmoil of the world around us, cease for a moment, and the soul asks the old question, “What after this? What becomes of the soul?”… read more

Some Challenges And Grand Challenges For Computational Intelligence

July 15, 2003 by Edward Feigenbaum

The Turing Test is a very ambitious Grand Challenge. The “Feigenbaum Test” is more manageable: focus on natural science, engineering, or medicine with conversation in the jargonized and stylized language of these disciplines. There are two other grand challenges in achieving Computational Intelligence: Build a large knowledge base by reading text, reducing knowledge engineering effort by one order of magnitude; and the “Grand Vision”: distill from the WWW a huge knowledge base, using ontologies and building a system of “semantics scrapers” that will access the semantic markups, integrate them appropriately into the growing knowledge base, and set up the material for the scrutiny of an editorial process.… read more

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

The Computer as a Communication Device

November 9, 2001 by J.C.R. Licklider, Robert Taylor

This landmark 1968 essay foresaw many future computer applications and advances in communication technology, such as distributed information resources and online interactive communities that are commonplace today as Internet chat rooms and peer-to-peer applications.… read more

Biocosm: The New Scientific Theory of Evolution: Intelligent Life is the Architect of the Universe

August 26, 2003 by James N. Gardner

James N. Gardner’s Selfish Biocosm hypothesis proposes that the remarkable anthropic (life-friendly) qualities that our universe exhibits can be explained as incidental consequences of a cosmic replication cycle in which a cosmologically extended biosphere provides a means for the cosmos to produce one or more baby universes. The cosmos is “selfish” in the same sense that Richard Dawkins proposed that genes are focused on their own replication.… read more

Ray Kurzweil’s Plan for Cheating Death

February 3, 2006 by Terry Grossman

A cure for aging may be found in the next fifty years. The trick now is to live long enough to be there when it happens. In his two new books, Ray Kurzweil has painted a clear picture of the future and provided a blueprint for how to get there.… read more

The Drexler-Smalley debate on molecular assembly

December 1, 2003

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

Promise And Peril

April 9, 2001 by Ray Kurzweil

Bill Joy wrote a controversial article in Wired advocating “relinquishment” of research on self-replicating technologies, such as nanobots. In this rebuttal, originally published in Interactive Week, Ray Kurzweil argues that these developments are inevitable and advocates ethical guidelines and responsible oversight.… read more

Bootstrapping our way to an ageless future

September 19, 2007 by Aubrey de Grey
Figure 1

Biomedical gerontologist Aubrey de Grey expects many people alive today to live to 1000 years of age and to avoid age-related health problems even at that age. In this excerpt from his just-published, much-awaited book, Ending Aging, he explains how.… read more

A Wager on the Turing Test: Why I Think I Will Win

April 9, 2002 by Ray Kurzweil

Will Ray Kurzweil’s predictions come true? He’s putting his money where his mouth is. Here’s why he thinks he will win a bet on the future of artificial intelligence. The wager: an AI that passes the Turing Test by 2029.… 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

Cyber Sapiens

October 26, 2006 by Chip Walter

…We will no longer be Homo sapiens, but Cyber sapiens–a creature part digital and part biological that will have placed more distance between its DNA and the destinies they force upon us than any other animal … a creature capable of steering our own evolution….… read more

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