essays collection By Author | A-Z

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

Material Progress is Sustainable

February 21, 2001 by John McCarthy

Many people, including many scientists, mistakenly believe that human progress, in the form it has taken in the last few hundred years, is unsustainable,” says Stanford University Professor of Computer Science Dr. John McCarthy. In this article, he presents the scientific case for technological optimism.… 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

Max More and Ray Kurzweil on the Singularity

February 26, 2002 by Max More, Ray Kurzweil

As technology accelerates over the next few decades and machines achieve superintelligence, we will encounter a dramatic phase transition: the “Singularity.” Will it be a “wall” (a barrier as conceptually impenetrable as the event horizon of a black hole in space), an “AI-Singularity” ruled by super-intelligent AIs, or a gentler “surge” into a posthuman era of agelessness and super-intelligence? Will this meme be hijacked by religious “passive singularitarians” obsessed with a future rapture? Ray Kurzweil and Extropy Institute president Max More debate.… 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

Human Body Version 2.0

February 16, 2003 by Ray Kurzweil

In the coming decades, a radical upgrading of our body’s physical and mental systems, already underway, will use nanobots to augment and ultimately replace our organs. We already know how to prevent most degenerative disease through nutrition and supplementation; this will be a bridge to the emerging biotechnology revolution, which in turn will be a bridge to the nanotechnology revolution. By 2030, reverse-engineering of the human brain will have been completed and nonbiological intelligence will merge with our biological brains.… read more

The (needed) new economics of abundance

May 8, 2006 by Steve Burgess

Molecular manufacturing coupled with AI could bring about a “personal manufacturing” revolution and a new era of abundance. But abundance could be highly disruptive, so we need to design a new economics of abundance so society is prepared for it.… read more

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