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Excerpts from The Spike: How Our Lives Are Being Transformed By Rapidly Advancing Technologies

July 26, 2001 by Damien Broderick

Damien Broderick takes us to the edge of a technological Singularity, where the Internet reaches critical mass of interconnectivity and “wakes up,” and mountain ranges may mysteriously appear out of nowhere. Then again, is the rampant techno-optimism surrounding the imminent Singularity just exponential bogosity?… 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

Tearing Toward the Spike

May 7, 2001 by Damien Broderick

We will live forever; or we will all perish most horribly; our minds will emigrate to cyberspace, and start the most ferocious overpopulation race ever seen on the planet; or our machines will transcend and take us with them, or leave us in some peaceful backwater where the meek shall inherit the Earth. Or something else, something far weirder and… unimaginable.… read more

Gelernter, Kurzweil debate machine consciousness

December 6, 2006 by Rodney Brooks, Ray Kurzweil, David Gelernter

Are we limited to building super-intelligent robotic “zombies” or will it be possible and desirable for us to build conscious, creative, volitional, perhaps even “spiritual” machines? David Gelernter and Ray Kurzweil debated this key question at MIT on Nov. 30.… read more

How will computation and communication change our everyday lives, again?

January 21, 2002 by Rodney Brooks

How will we all be in the world 20 years from now, when we all have direct wireless connections to the Internet of that time with information services as yet unimaginable? Rodney Brooks 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

From The Enlightenment to N-Lightenment

May 8, 2006 by Michael Buerger

The criminal potentials inherent in molecular manufacturing include powerful new illegal drugs, mass murder via compromised assembly codes, and a “killer virus” crossing out of cyberspace into the physical realm. A criminal-justice futurist examines the possibilities.… read more

The (needed) new economics of abundance

May 8, 2006 by Steve Burgess

Molecular manufacturing coupled with AI could bring about a “personal manufacturing” revolution and a new era of abundance. But abundance could be highly disruptive, so we need to design a new economics of abundance so society is prepared for it.… read more

As We May Think

November 1, 2001 by Vannevar Bush

This visionary essay, published in 1945, is a reminder that science and technology can and should be pursued as a means for peaceful and beneficial ends, not only warfare.… read more

Open-Source Biology And Its Impact on Industry

March 3, 2004 by Rob Carlson

Technology based on intentional, open-source biology is on its way, whether we like it or not. Distributed biological manufacturing is the future of the global economy and will occur as inexpensive, quality DNA sequencing and synthesis equipment becomes available to anyone. In 2050, garage biology hacking will be well under way. Fear of potential hazards should be met with increased research and education, rather than closing the door on the profound positive impacts that distributed biological technology will have on human health, human impacts on the environment, and increasing standards of living around the world.… read more

The Pace and Proliferation of Biological Technologies

March 4, 2004 by Rob Carlson

The parts for a DNA synthesizer can now be purchased for approximately $10,000. By 2010 a single person will be able to sequence or synthesize 10^10 bases a day. Within a decade a single person could sequence or synthesize all the DNA describing all the people on the planet many times over in an eight-hour day or sequence his or her own DNA within seconds. Given the power and threat of biological technologies, the only way to ensure safety in the long run is to push research and development as fast as possible. Open and distributed networks of researchers would provide an intelligence gathering capability and a flexible and robust workforce for developing technology.… read more

Openness and the Metaverse Singularity

November 7, 2007 by Jamais Cascio

The four worlds of the Metaverse Roadmap could also represent four pathways to a Singularity. But they also represent potential dangers. An “open-access Singularity” may be the answer. The people who have embraced the possibility of a singularity should be working at least as hard on making possible a global inclusion of interests as they do on making the singularity itself happen, says Jamais Cascio.… read more

Are We Becoming An Endangered Species? Technology and Ethics in the 21st Century

November 8, 2001 by Washington National Cathedral

Are We Becoming an Endangered Species? Technology and Ethics in the 21st Century will bring together a panel of leading experts on November 19 at Washington National Cathedral in Washington, D.C. to explore the ethics of technological advances, especially as they relate to genetic engineering, nanotechnology and robotics. The panelists are Bill Joy, author, and co-founder and chief scientist of Sun Microsystems, Ray Kurzweil, author, inventor and president of Kurzweil Technologies, Anne Foerst, visiting professor for Theology and Computer Science at St. Bonaventure University and Bill McKibben, author, environmentalist and visiting scholar at Middlebury College.… read more

A Computational Foundation for the Study of Cognition

June 4, 2002 by David Chalmers

Computation is central to the foundations of modern cognitive science, but its role is controversial. Questions about computation abound: What is it for a physical system to implement a computation? Is computation sufficient for thought? What is the role of computation in a theory of cognition? What is the relation between different sorts of computational theory, such as connectionism and symbolic computation? This article develops a systematic framework that addresses all of these questions. A careful analysis of computation and its relation to cognition suggests that the ambitions of artificial intelligence and the centrality of computation in cognitive science are justified.… read more

Facing Up to the Problem of Consciousness

August 17, 2002 by David Chalmers

The vague term “consciousness” poses the most baffling problems in the science of the mind. Philosopher David Chalmers presents a nonreductive theory of consciousness based on principles of structural coherence (tied to awareness) and organizational invariance (e.g., a silicon isomorph of a human can be conscious) and a double-aspect view of information (physical and phenomenal aspects).… read more

On the Search for the Neural Correlate of Consciousness

June 26, 2002 by David Chalmers

There’s a variety of proposed neural systems associated with conscious experience, but no way to directly observe or measure consciousness. Chalmers suggests though that there may be a “consciousness module” — a functional area responsible for the integration of information in the brain, with high-bandwidth communication between its parts.… read more

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