essays collection

What’s the neurobiology of doing good and being good?

January 21, 2002 by Robert Sapolsky

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.” Roger Sapolsky asks: what’s the neurobiology of doing and being good?… read more

What the Future Will Bring

June 15, 2005 by Ray Kurzweil

“Follow your passion,” Ray Kurzweil advised graduates in a commencement address on May 21 at Worcester Polytechnic Institute, one of the nation’s earliest technological universities. “Creating knowledge is what will be most exciting in life. To create knowledge you have to have passion, so find a challenge that you can be passionate about and you can find the ideas to overcome that challenge.” Kurzweil also described the three great coming revolutions-genetics, nanotechnology and robotics-and their implications for our lives ahead.… read more

What Shape are a German Shepherd’s Ears?

July 17, 2002 by Stephen M. Kosslyn

There is a gigantic project yet to be done that will root psychology in natural science and providing a better understanding of human nature. Once this is accomplished, you’ll be able to go from phenomenology to information processing to the brain, down through the workings of the neurons, including the biochemistry, all the way to the biophysics and the way genes are up-regulated and down-regulated.… read more

What must a physical system be to be able to act on its own behalf?

January 21, 2002 by Stuart Kauffman

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.” Stuart Kauffman asks: what must a physical system be to be able to act?… 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

What is time, and what is the right language to describe change, in a closed system like the universe, which contains all of its observers?

January 21, 2002 by Lee Smolin

Since the observers are inside the universe itself, we must formulate a “background-independent” quantum theory of gravity and cosmology , as well as the notions of time and change, to apply to a system with no fixed background, which contains all its possible observers–perhaps even one in which the laws themselves evolve as the universe does. Lee Smolin responds to Edge publisher/editor John Brockman’s request to futurists to pose “hard-edge” questions that “render visible the deeper meanings of our lives, redefine who and what we are.”… read more

What is the Singularity?

March 30, 1993

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

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

What is the missing ingredient — not genes, not upbringing — that shapes the mind?

January 21, 2002 by Steven Pinker

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.” Steven Pinker’s question: what shapes the mind?… read more

What is the Doomsday Clock and why should we keep track of the time?

The Doomsday Clock was shifted on January 26, 2017 from three minutes to midnight to a new setting of two and a half minutes to midnight --- the nearest the clock has been to midnight for more than 50 years.
March 6, 2017

2.5-minutes-to-midnight

By Ian Lowe, Emeritus Professor, School of Science, Griffith University

It made headlines recently when the Doomsday Clock was shifted on January 26, 2017 from three minutes to midnight to a new setting of two and a half minutes to midnight.*

That is the nearest the clock has been to midnight for more than 50 years. The body responsible for the clock said the probability of global… read more

What is Friendly AI?

May 3, 2001 by Eliezer S. Yudkowsky

How will near-human and smarter-than-human AIs act toward humans? Why? Are their motivations dependent on our design? If so, which cognitive architectures, design features, and cognitive content should be implemented? At which stage of development? These are questions that must be addressed as we approach the Singularity.… 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

What I want to be when I grow up, is a cloud

July 6, 2001 by J. Storrs Hall

Uploading doesn’t necessarily mean consciousness on a chip. What if you could be anything: a lion or an antelope, a frog or a fly, a tree, a pool, the coat of paint on a ceiling? Nanotechnology may pave the way.… read more

What Have We Learned a Year After NASDAQ Hit 5,000?

January 21, 2002 by Ray Kurzweil

The current recession reflects failure to develop realistic models of the pace at which new information-based technologies emerge and the overall acceleration of the flow of information. But in the longer-range view, recessions and recoveries reflect a relatively minor variability compared to the far more important trend of the underlying exponential growth of the economy.… read more

What does it mean to have an educated mind in the 21st century?

January 21, 2002 by Roger Schank

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.” Roger Schank asks: what is an educated mind in the 21st Century?… read more

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