December 3, 2001 by Sir Arthur C. Clarke, Ray Kurzweil
The science fiction visionary behind HAL offers his predictions of salient events to come in this century.… read more
At the 2002 AAAS Nanotechnology Seminar, leading nanotechnologists presented the building blocks that may overturn current manufacturing processes on a collision course with Moore’s Law.… read more
Rodney Brooks is trying to build robots with properties of living systems. These include self-reproducing and self-assembling robots and one inspired by Bill Joy that wanders around the corridors, finds electrical outlets, and plugs itself in. His students’ edgy projects include real-time MRI imagery, virtual colonoscopies, programs that create DNA for E. coli molecules that act as computers, and eventually, self-organizing smart biomaterials that grow into objects, such as a table.… read more
Bill Clinton calls many political leaders out of touch with the acceleration of technology, recommends Non Zero by Robert Wright and The Age of Spiritual Machines by Ray Kurzweil.… read more
Advances in genetic engineering, advanced computational processes, nanobiology, and biological metaphors in computing are leading to a “bioconvergence” that will reshape the economies of the world and perhaps even the very definition of life itself.… read more
James N. Gardner’s Selfish Biocosm hypothesis proposes that the remarkable anthropic (life-friendly) qualities that our universe exhibits can be explained as incidental consequences of a cosmic replication cycle in which a cosmologically extended biosphere provides a means for the cosmos to produce one or more baby universes. The cosmos is “selfish” in the same sense that Richard Dawkins proposed that genes are focused on their own replication.… read more
The world has been whipped up into hysteria over terrorist attacks and “weapons of mass destruction.”
Governments want to ban the publication of sensitive scientific research results, and a group of major life sciences editors and authors has concurred. Some even suggest an international body to police research and publication. Dr. Mae-Wan Ho looks at the current SARS epidemic and argues why all of those measures to control bioterrorism are misplaced, and what’s really needed.… read more
The universe might end in intelligent life, not a Big Crunch or oblivion in an infinite expansion, says James Gardner in The Intelligent Universe: AI, ET, and the Emerging Mind of the Cosmos (February 2007).
Gardner envisions a final state of the cosmos in which a highly evolved form of group intelligence — a cosmic community — marshals the assets of matter and… read more
This review was originally published in Wired, “Peer Review,” in October 2002.
As one of the world’s leading roboticists, Rodney Brooks (Director of the MIT Artificial Intelligence Laboratory and Chairman of the successful iRobot Corporation) is also the consummate teacher.
He has a penchant for clear explanation and in his latest book, Flesh and Machines, How Robots Will Change Us, Brooks lucidly explores a wide range of themes related to his life with robots.
These range from personal anecdotes (e.g., his first encounter with another legendary robot builder, Hans Moravec, who was then living in his Stanford laboratory and musing about exotic topics ranging from sky hooks to tree-like robots), historical vignettes (e.g., Marvin Minsky’s unsuccessful attempt to solve the computer “vision” problem in a single Summer in 1966), algorithmic insights (e.g., how his Genghis robot achieved “animal-like behavior” from a few dozen simple programs operating in parallel), philosophical musings (e.g., what is the true nature of consciousness, “apart from our own personal experience of what it is like to be us?”), and ethical dilemmas (e.g., when will we need to stop treating robots like slaves).
The book ranges far and wide, but maintains a unity around the author’s passion for creating what he calls “situated creatures,” which we can eventually regard as our teachers and companions.… read more