essays collection By Author | A-Z

National Inventor Hall of Fame Acceptance Remarks

September 22, 2002 by Ray Kurzweil

The National Inventors Hall of Fame (NIHF) inducted Ray Kurzweil on Sept. 21, 2002. Sponsored by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office and Hewlett-Packard, the ceremony recognized Kurzweil for the Kurzweil Reading Machine and a lifetime of invention, including the first “omni-font” optical character recognition (OCR), the first CCD flat-bed scanner, the first full text-to-speech synthesizer, the first realistic-sounding electronic music synthesizer, and the first commercially marketed large-vocabulary speech recognition.… read more

Nano-Guns, Nano-Germs, and Nano-Steel

March 29, 2006 by Mike Treder

Within our lifetimes, we are likely to witness battles on a scale never before seen. Powered by molecular manufacturing, near-future wars may threaten our freedom, our way of life, and even our survival. Superior military technology allowed the Spanish to conquer the Incan empire in 1532. Could today’s most powerful civilization, the United States, be just as easily conquered by a nano-enabled attacker?… 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

Kurzweil vs. Dertouzos

March 7, 2001 by Ray Kurzweil, Michael L. Dertouzos

In this Technology Review article, Raymond Kurzweil and Michael Dertouzos debate Bill Joy’s Wired article urging “relinquishment” of research in certain risky areas of nanotechnology, genetics, and robotics.… read more

Consciousness Connects Our Brains to the Fundamental Level of the Universe

May 14, 2001 by Stuart Hameroff

Neurons alone aren’t sufficiently complex to explain consciousness and provide a computational model for thought, according to Stuart Hameroff. He wants to go smaller, into a universe of structures within neurons where quantum mechanics help formulate a physical theory of consciousness.… read more

In Response to

July 25, 2001 by Ray Kurzweil

Although George Gilder and Richard Vigilante share Ray Kurzweil’s grave concerns about Bill Joy’s apparently neo-Luddite calls for relinguishing broad areas of technology, Kurzweil is critical of Gilder and Vigilante’s skepticism regarding the feasibility of the dangers.… read more

The Economics of Innovation

August 6, 2001 by Ray Kurzweil

An examination of the changing nature of wealth, written for “The Futurecast,” a monthly column in the Library Journal.… read more

Beyond 2001: HAL’s Legacy for the Enterprise Generation

August 10, 2001 by Frank Schirrmacher

Bill Joy and Robert Freitas debate the perils of a technology that, in the words of the author, is so far in the future that even the word infancy would be premature. But does science fiction indeed shape the future?… read more

The Central Metaphor of Everything?

December 4, 2001 by Jaron Lanier

Jaron Lanier’s Edge article takes a skeptical look at Moore’s Law and its application to trends outside of computer hardware. Will computers become smarter than us in twenty years? Is the computational metaphor actually impeding progress?… read more

Bob Moog, Interviewed by Electronicmusic.com

January 29, 2002 by Paul Clark, Robert Moog

Electronicmusic.com talks with synthesizer pioneer Robert Moog about how he radically changed the way music is made, and the tools he used to do it.… 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

The Cyclic Universe

January 22, 2003 by Paul J. Steinhardt

Is the universe expanding indefinitely–the Big Bang model–or does it go through cycles of expansion and contraction? Paul Steinhardt, who is Albert Einstein Professor of Science at Princeton University and on the faculty of both the Department of Physics and the Department of Astrophysical Sciences, suggests a cyclic model that could successfully compete with the Big Bang model.… read more

Molecular Manufacturing: Start Planning

October 9, 2003 by Chris Phoenix

Molecular nanotechnology manufacturing is coming soon. The economic value–and military significance–of a nanofactory will be immense. But if a well-designed plan is not in place, serious risks will very likely lead to military destruction, social or economic disruption or unnecessary human suffering on a large scale. Here’s what needs to be done.… read more

Technology and Human Enhancement

February 3, 2006 by John Smart

Machines are increasingly exceeding us in the performance of more and more tasks, from guiding objects like
missiles or satellites to assembling other machines. They are merging with us ever more intimately and are learning how to reconfigure our biology in new and significantly
faster technological domains.… read more

Are We Enlightened Guardians, Or Are We Apes Designing Humans?

May 22, 2006 by Douglas Mulhall

Thanks in part to molecular manufacturing, accelerated developments in AI and brain reverse-engineering could lead to the emergence of superintelligence in just 18 years. Are we ready for the implications — like possible annihilation of Homo sapiens? And will we seem to superintelligence what our ape-like ancestors seem to us: primitive?… read more

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