essays collection By Author | A-Z

Will My PC Be Smarter Than I Am?

November 9, 2001 by Ray Kurzweil

Once we learn how to map the brain and make computers fast enough to simulate it, all bets are off.… read more

Why Sleep?

January 21, 2002 by Terrence Sejnowski

The 5th Annual Edge Question reflects the spirit of the Edge motto: “To arrive at the edge of the world’s knowledge, seek out the most complex and sophisticated minds, put them in a room together, and have them ask each other the questions they are asking themselves.” Terrence Sejnowski asks: why sleep?… read more

Rethinking Operating Systems

February 11, 2002 by Bob Frankston

We know hardware has become exponentially faster, cheaper and smaller since the advent of the operating system, yet the interface hasn’t changed much. In this draft of an essay, Bob Frankston proposes a rethink of the assumptions that went into user interface design thirty years ago.… read more

Consciousness in Human and Robot Minds

June 6, 2002 by Daniel Dennett

AI skeptics offer several reasons why robots could never become conscious. MITs’ humanoid Cog robot project may give them pause.… 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

The technology of universal intelligence

October 16, 2003 by Ray Kurzweil

Levels of intelligence far greater than our own are going to evolve within this century. We will ultimately saturate all of the matter and energy in our area of the universe with our intelligence.… read more

Nanofactories, Gang Wars, and “Feelies”

February 3, 2006 by Damien Broderick

In 30 years, a new intelligent species might share the planet with us and
dirt-cheap molecular manufacturing may end poverty and strife. But there exists a risk that a world of lotus-eaters will degenerate into gang wars among those for whom life
retains no discipline or meaning.… read more

Interview: How much do we need to know?

July 10, 2006 by Bill Joy

To limit access to risky information and technologies by bioterrorists, we should price catastrophe into the cost of doing business, rather than regulate things, says Bill Joy. Things judged to be dangerous would be expensive, and the most expensive would be withdrawn.… read more

It’s a Small, Small, Small, Small World

April 5, 2001 by Ralph C. Merkle

This introduction to nanotechnology by one of its pioneers is an extended version of the article published in the Feb/Mar 1997 issue of MIT Technology Review. It provides greater technical detail.… read more

The Story of the 21st Century

May 31, 2001 by Rebecca Zacks

Raymond Kurzweil created a hubbub with his idea that we will soon be able to “download” ourselves into machines and live forever. Find out what else he’s got up his futuristic sleeve.… read more

Natural Born Cyborgs

August 3, 2001 by Andy Clark

For Andy Clark, the ancient fortress of skin and skull has been breached: as we understand more and more how the brain works, the brains we craft in the future will be extensions of our own. Mindware upgrades and other cognitive upheavals coming soon…… read more

Man-Computer Symbiosis

December 11, 2001 by J.C.R. Licklider

Written in 1960, this essay foresaw the growing dependence upon computers for more and more intelligent functions, and an age of human/computer interdependence in which the distinction between the two becomes increasingly blurred.… read more

We Are Becoming Cyborgs

March 15, 2002 by Ray Kurzweil

The union of human and machine is well on its way. Almost every part of the body can already be enhanced or replaced, even some of our brain functions. Subminiature drug delivery systems can now precisely target tumors or individual cells. Within two to three decades, our brains will have been “reverse-engineered”: nanobots will give us full-immersion virtual reality and direct brain connection with the Internet. Soon after, we will vastly expand our intellect as we merge our biological brains with non-biological intelligence.… read more

Live Moderated Chat: Are We Spiritual Machines?

July 24, 2002 by Ray Kurzweil, Jay W. Richards, William A. Dembski

On July 19, 2001, the International Society for Complexity, Information, and Design hosted an online chat with Ray Kurzweil, Jay Richards, and William Dembski, three of the co-authors of the new book, Are We Spiritual Machines? Ray Kurzweil vs. the Critics of Strong A.I. The discussion focused on the nature of consciousness, free will vs. determinism, complexity, and implications of the eroding boundary between humans and intelligent machines.… read more

The Future of Nanotechnology: Molecular Manufacturing

April 14, 2003 by K. Eric Drexler

The future generations of nanotechnology will rely on being able to effectively arrange atoms. Molecular manufacturing, and the use of molecular assemblers to hold and position molecules, will be key to the future, controlling how molecules react and allowing scientists to build complex structures with atomically precise control. In this essay, Dr. Drexler discusses the benefits and challenges of future molecular manufacturing.… read more

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