essays collection

Empowering the Really Little Guys

April 9, 2006 by Glenn Harlan Reynolds

“Individuals are getting more and more powerful,” says author Glenn Reynolds in his insightful new book, An Army of Davids. “With the current rate of progress we’re seeing in biotechnology, nanotechnology, artificial intelligence, and other technologies, it seems likely that individuals will one day–and one day relatively soon–possess powers once thought available only to nation-states, superheroes, or gods. That sounds dramatic, but we’re already partway there”–and nanotechnology may be the “ultimate empowerer of ordinary people.”… read more

Green or Gray?

April 5, 2002 by Glenn Harlan Reynolds

Will the future be green (based on biotechnology) or gray (based on nanotechnology and nanotech-powered AI)? Ray Kurzweil and Gregory Stock will debate this issue at the Foresight Senior Associate Gathering. Both have advantages, but environmentalists and anti-biotech activists may load the dice in favor of gray.… read more

Infinite Memory and Bandwidth: Implications for Artificial Intelligence

February 21, 2001 by Raj Reddy

Not to worry about superintelligent machines taking over, says AI pioneer Dr. Raj Reddy. A more likely scenario: people who can think and act 1000 times faster, using personal intelligent agents.… read more

Toward Teleportation, Time Travel and Immortality

February 21, 2001 by Raj Reddy

Universal access to instant information and entertainment, personal images captured in 3D (a la Star Wars), telemedicine, and clones with downloaded experiences that live forever are among AI pioneer Reddy’s predictions for the next 50 years.… read more

From ENIAC to Everyone: Talking with J. Presper Eckert

February 23, 2006 by Alexander Randall 5th

J. Presper Eckert reveals the inside story of the invention of ENIAC, the first practical, all-electronic computer, and debunks some myths in this forgotten interview. “It is shocking to have your life work reduced to a tenth of a square inch of silicon,” he said.… read more

A.I.: Kurzweil Says Thumbs Up

November 2, 2001 by Wired News Radio

Wired gets Ray Kurzweil’s take on the Stanley Kubrick and Steven Spielberg film “A.I.” prior to its wide release.… read more

Ray Kurzweil, Material Girl

November 2, 2001 by Wired News Radio

In this Wired interview, Kurzweil discusses how he used image- and voice-rendering software to transform himself into a 25-year-old singer named Ramona.… read more

Globalization and Open Source Nano Economy

March 30, 2006 by Giulio Prisco

Some of the problems of today’s globalized world could be eliminated or reduced by developing operational worldwide molecular design and manufacturing capabilities. Instead of shipping physical objects, their detailed design specification in a “Molecular Description Language” (MDL) will be transmitted over a global data grid evolved from today’s Internet and then physically “printed” by “nano printers” at remote sites. This would allow communities wishing to remain independent to retain their autonomy.… read more

Man and Machine Become One

May 29, 2001 by Otis Port

Raymond Kurzweil spoke with BUSINESS WEEK Senior Writer Otis Port about nanotechnology, which may enable engineers to construct microscopic computers and robots, or nanobots, atom by atom. These machines could dramatically affect the future of human intelligence.… read more

Software, Property and Human Civilization

December 19, 2001 by Jordan Pollack

In this Edge talk, Jordan Pollack discusses a phenomenon that may restrict innovation: the inability to buy products, due to the established model of software licensing. What are the implications for human civilization?… read more

A Second Wave of Network Technologies

June 21, 2001 by Tomaso Poggio

MIT Brain and Cognitive Sciences Professor Tomaso Poggio explores how the Internet can become “smarter”–how intelligent technologies will prevent us from drowning in an ocean of data.… read more

How to Build a Virtual Human

October 20, 2003 by Peter Plantec

Virtual Humans is the first book with instructions on designing a “V-human,” or synthetic person. Using the programs on the included CD, you can create animated computer characters who can speak, dialogue intelligently, show facial emotions, have a personality and life story, and be used in real business projects. These excerpts explain how to get started.… read more

How the Mind Works

February 21, 2001 by Steven Pinker

In this William James Book Prize Lecture, presented to the Annual Meeting of the American Psychological Association, August 1999, Steven Pinker, Department of Brain and Cognitive Sciences, MIT, attempts to describe how the mind works, using three key ideas: computation, evolution, and specialization.… 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

Words and Rules

February 21, 2001 by Steven Pinker

An important problem in AI in understanding how language works. In this paper, presented in his Colin Cherry Memorial Lecture on March 23, 1999 at Imperial College, London, Dr. Steven Pinker suggests that we use a combination of memory and grammatical rules to convey information.… read more

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