essays collection By Author | A-Z

The Law of Accelerating Returns

March 7, 2001 by Ray Kurzweil

An analysis of the history of technology shows that technological change is exponential, contrary to the common-sense “intuitive linear” view. So we won’t experience 100 years of progress in the 21st century — it will be more like 20,000 years of progress (at today’s rate). The “returns,” such as chip speed and cost-effectiveness, also increase exponentially. There’s even exponential growth in the rate of exponential growth. Within a few decades, machine intelligence will surpass human intelligence, leading to The Singularity — technological change so rapid and profound it represents a rupture in the fabric of human history. The implications include the merger of biological and nonbiological intelligence, immortal software-based humans, and ultra-high levels of intelligence that expand outward in the universe at the speed of light.… read more

What is the Singularity?

February 27, 2001 by John Smart

This introduction to the Singularity includes a brief history of the idea and links to key Web resources.… read more

Evolution and the Internet: Toward A Networked Humanity?

February 26, 2001 by Danny Belkin

Integration of human and machine will lead to an interconnected “organism”–the next major evolutionary step forward for humanity, says immunology PhD candidate Danny Belkin.… read more

Building Gods or Building Our Potential Exterminators?

February 26, 2001 by Hugo de Garis

Hugo de Garis is concerned that massively intelligent machines (“artilects”) could become infinitely smarter than human beings, leading to warring factions over the question: should humanity risk building artilects? Result: gigadeaths. (See the author’s The Artilect War book draft for further details.)… read more

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


February 21, 2001

Pattern matching is the basis of Raymond Kurzweil’s inventions in optical character recognition, speech recognition and synthesis, and electronic music. From Ray Kurzweil’s revolutionary book The Age of Intelligent Machines, published in 1990.… read more

Infinite Memory and Bandwidth: Implications for Artificial Intelligence

February 21, 2001 by Raj Reddy

Not to worry about superintelligent machines taking over, says AI pioneer Dr. Raj Reddy. A more likely scenario: people who can think and act 1000 times faster, using personal intelligent agents.… read more


February 21, 2001

Inventor, futurist Ray Kurzweil surveys the complex and daunting initiative to create truly intelligent machines. Neural net decision-making rivals experts, pattern recognition mimics human capabilities. While true human intelligence dwarfs today’s artificial intelligence, there is no fundamental barrier to the AI field’s ultimately achieving this objective, he says. From Ray Kurzweil’s revolutionary book The Age of Intelligent Machines, published in 1990.… read more

The Twenty Laws of the Telecosm

February 21, 2001 by George Gilder

This excerpt from Telecosm (Free Press/Simon & Shuster) encapsulates futurist George Gilder’s grand vision of the age of the telecosm–in which infinite bandwidth will revolutionize the world.… read more

Toward Teleportation, Time Travel and Immortality

February 21, 2001 by Raj Reddy

Universal access to instant information and entertainment, personal images captured in 3D (a la Star Wars), telemedicine, and clones with downloaded experiences that live forever are among AI pioneer Reddy’s predictions for the next 50 years.… read more

THE AGE of INTELLIGENT MACHINES | Brother Giorgio’s Kangaroo

February 21, 2001

Scientist-painter Harold Cohen reveals the mystery works behind his famous “artificially” intelligent AARON program, which draws landscapes and portraits. A profound symbiosis of man and machine, as computer imitates art and art imitates life, it demonstrates the growing capacity of technology to reflect the subtlety of human experience. From Ray Kurzweil’s revolutionary book The Age of Intelligent Machines, published in 1990.… 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

What Is Artificial Intelligence?

February 21, 2001 by John McCarthy

What exactly is “artificial intelligence” (AI)? Stanford University Professor of Computer Science Dr. John McCarthy, a pioneer in AI, answers this question in depth for beginners.… read more

THE AGE of INTELLIGENT MACHINES | Knowledge Processing–From File Servers to Knowledge Servers

February 21, 2001

This chapter from The Age of Intelligent Machines (published in 1990) addresses the history and development of AI, and where it was headed, circa 1990.… read more

How the Mind Works

February 21, 2001 by Steven Pinker

In this William James Book Prize Lecture, presented to the Annual Meeting of the American Psychological Association, August 1999, Steven Pinker, Department of Brain and Cognitive Sciences, MIT, attempts to describe how the mind works, using three key ideas: computation, evolution, and specialization.… read more

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