essays collection By Author | A-Z

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


August 13, 2001 by John Searle

Can consciousness be measured scientifically? What exactly is consciousness? John Searle approaches the scientific investigation of consciousness and its possible neurobiological roots from a philosophical perspective.… read more

How Can We Possibly Tell If It’s Conscious?

February 7, 2002 by Ray Kurzweil

Abstract of talk to be delivered at the “Toward a Science of Consciousness” Conference, April 10, 2002. Sponsored by the Center for Consciousness Studies at the University of Arizona.… read more

The Last Human

June 5, 2002 by Gregory Stock

We are on the cusp of profound biological change, poised to transcend our current form and character on a journey to destinations of new imagination. The arrival of safe, reliable germline technology will signal the beginning of human self-design. Progressive self-transformation could change our descendants into something sufficiently different from our present selves to not be human in the sense we use the term now. But the ultimate question of our era is whether the cutting edge of life is destined to shift from its present biological substrate — the carbon and other organic materials of our flesh — to that of silicon and its ilk, as proposed by leading artificial-intelligence theorists such as Hans Moravec and Ray Kurzweil.… 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

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

The Transhumanist FAQ

April 30, 2001 by Nick Bostrom

This FAQ, written by Nick Bostrom (with the help of others—see endnote), outlines the principles of transhumanism and provides definitions of transhumanist terms and resources. This is one of many versions of the “Transhumanist FAQ” that can be found on many websites, per organization or individual.… read more

The Invisible Brain

July 2, 2001 by Robert Wright

How do societies evolve toward greater complexity in culture and technology? Robert Wright posits that there is an “invisible brain” at work.… read more

A Formula for Intelligence: The Recursive Paradigm

August 6, 2001 by Ray Kurzweil

An explanation of the recursive approach to artificial intelligence, written for “The Futurecast,” a monthly column in the Library Journal.… read more

How to stop commercial air hijackings without inconveniencing air travelers

October 4, 2001 by Steve Kirsch

Silicon Valley entrepreneur Steve Kirsch has an idea for preventing skyjacking: we install panic buttons that put the plane on forced autopilot, randomly select one of the nearest airports capable of accommodating that plane type, and automatically land the aircraft.… read more

What kind of system of ‘coding’ of semantic information does the brain use?

January 21, 2002 by Daniel Dennett

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.” Daniel Dennett asks: how does the brain code semantic information?… read more

Technology Fear Factor

July 21, 2002 by Daintry Duffy, Sari Kalin

Three futurists — George Gilder, Ray Kurzweil, and Jaron Lanier — agree that emerging dangerous technologies will require smarter defenses, such as standards diversity, decentralized systems, a transparent society, better communications between factions, and mutually beneficial collaboration of business leaders.… read more

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