essays collection By Author | A-Z

Revolution in a Box: An Interview with the Center for Responsible Nanotechnology

March 22, 2006 by Mike Treder, Chris Phoenix, Jamais Cascio

The Center for Responsible Nanotechnology has a modest goal: to ensure that the planet navigates the emerging nanotech era safely. CRN’s founders discuss the promises and perils of nanotechnology, as well as the need for a middle ground between resignation and relinquishment.… 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

Whither Psychoanalysis in a Computer Culture?

October 24, 2002 by Sherry Turkle

In the early 1980s, MIT professor Sherry Turkle first called the computer a “second self.” With this essay, she presents a major new theory of “evocative objects”: Wearable computers, PDAs, online multiple identities, “companion species” (such as quasi-alive virtual pets, digital dolls, and robot nurses for the elderly), “affective computing” devices (such as the human-like Kismet robot), and the imminent age of machines designed as relational artifacts are causing us to see ourselves and our world differently. They call for a new generation of psychoanalytic self-psychology to explore the human response and the human vulnerability to these objects.… read more

A Simple Model of Unbounded Evolutionary Versatility as a Largest-Scale Trend in Organismal Evolution

June 25, 2002 by Peter D. Turney

The idea that there are large-scale trends in the evolution of biological organisms, such as increasing complexity, is highly controversial. But Peter Turney presents a simple computational model showing that local adaptation to a dynamic, randomly changing environment results in a global trend towards increasing evolutionary versatility, which implies an accelerating evolutionary pace, and that this trend can continue without bound if there is sufficient ongoing change in the environment.… read more

The Emergent Self

August 3, 2001 by Francesco Varela

The late Francesco Varela postulates that organisms have to be understood as a mesh of virtual selves–a bricolage of various identities. How virtual is the reality we live in, and do various realities emerge from cognitive and biological systems?… read more

Corporate Cornucopia: Examining the Special Implications of Commercial MNT Development

May 24, 2006 by Michael Vassar

Molecular nanotech is the largest commercial opportunity of all time. But it may also create severe roadblocks and risks, including terrorism, unstable arms races, competitive pricing, restrictive patents, import opposition, economic disruption, and out-of-control AI.… read more

Singularity Chat with Vernor Vinge and Ray Kurzweil

June 13, 2002 by Vernor Vinge, Ray Kurzweil

Vernor Vinge (screen name “vv”) and Ray Kurzweil (screen name “RayKurzweil”) recently discussed The Singularity — their idea that superhuman machine intelligence will soon exceed human intelligence — in an online chat room co-produced by Analog Science Fiction and Fact and Asimov’s Science Fiction magazine on SCIFI.COM. Vinge, a noted science fiction writer, is the author of the seminal paper, “The Technological Singularity.” Kurzweil’s The Singularity Is Near book is due out in early 2003 and is previewed in “The Law of Accelerating Returns.” (Note: typos corrected and comments aggregated for readability.)… read more

What is the Singularity?

March 30, 1993 by Vernor Vinge

Vernor Vinge

Originally published 1993 as an academic paper: Department of Mathematical Sciences, San Diego State University. The version that appears on Vernor Vinge’s website can be read here.

Vernor Vinge is a retired San Diego State University math professor, computer scientist, and science fiction author. He is best known for his Hugo Award-winning novels A Fire Upon the Deep, A Deepness in the Sky, Rainbows End, Fast Times at Fairmont High, and The Cookie Monster, as well as forread more

Radical body design “Primo Posthuman”

February 25, 2002 by Natasha Vita-More

Primo 3M+ is a prototype future body, a conceptual design with superlongevity in mind. Primo by design is multi-functional. It is reliable, changeable, upgradeable, and complete with enhanced senses. Primo is the new designer body.… read more

Strategic Sustainable Brain

March 31, 2006 by Natasha Vita-More

The human brain faces a challenging future. To cope with accelerating nanotech- and biotech-based developments in an increasingly complex world, compete with emerging superintelligence, and maintain its performance and sustainability as people live longer, the fragile human brain will need major enhancements: a backup system, eliminating degenerative processes, direct mind-linkup to ubiquitous computing networks, error-correction for memory, and a global Net connection with remote neural access.… read more

Immortality

April 26, 2001 by Swami Vivekananda

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

Essentials of general intelligence: the direct path to AGI

August 22, 2002 by Peter Voss

Adaptive AI's General Framework

General intelligence comprises the essential, domain-independent skills necessary for acquiring a wide range of domain-specific knowledge — the ability to learn anything. Achieving this with “artificial general intelligence” (AGI) requires a highly adaptive, general-purpose system that can autonomously acquire an extremely wide range of specific knowledge and skills and can improve its own cognitive ability through self-directed learning. This chapter in the forthcoming book, Real AI: New Approaches to Artificial General Intelligence, describes the requirements and conceptual design of a prototype AGI system.… 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

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

Why Language Is All Thumbs

March 14, 2008 by Chip Walter

Toolmaking not only resulted in tools, but also the reconfiguration of our brains so they comprehended the world on the same terms as our toolmaking hands interacted with it. With mirror neurons, something entirely new entered the world: memes–a far more effective and speedy method for pooling knowledge and passing it around than the old genetic way.… read more

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