essays collection

Connectivity: What it is and why it is so important

February 11, 2002 by Bob Frankston

The difference between the network and the application is crucial to the future of the Internet. Bob Frankston points out that connectivity is the basic resource, telephony and television are simply applications built on connectivity, and that we should replace complex regulation with the power of the marketplace.… read more

Beyond Computation: A Talk with Rodney Brooks

June 7, 2002 by John Brockman

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

Nanomedicine

November 18, 2003 by Robert A. Freitas Jr.

In Nanomedicine, Vol. I: Basic Capabilities, first in the four-volume Nanomedicine technical book series, Robert A. Freitas, Jr. offers a pioneering and fascinating glimpse into a molecular-nanotechnology future with far-reaching implications for the medical profession — and ultimately for the radical improvement and extension of natural human biological structure and function.… 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

Space Wars: The First Six Hours of World War III

April 17, 2007 by William B. Scott, Amara D. Angelica

Space Wars by Willliam Scott, Michael Coumatos, and William Birnes, Forge Books (April 17, 2007) describes how the first hours of World War III might play out in the year 2010. While fiction, it’s based on real-world military scenarios and technologies, dramatically highlighting the West’s vulnerability to destruction of its space-based commercial and military communications infrastructure.… read more

Global Cyberspace and Personal Memespace

February 21, 2001 by Bruce Damer

Virtual worlds populated by avatars of real people interacting with each other, bots, agents, and exotic life forms: is this the future face of cyberspace?… read more

The Transhumanist FAQ

April 30, 2001 by Nick Bostrom

This FAQ, written by Nick Bostrom (with the help of others—see endnote), outlines the principles of transhumanism and provides definitions of transhumanist terms and resources. This is one of many versions of the “Transhumanist FAQ” that can be found on many websites, per organization or individual.… read more

The Invisible Brain

July 2, 2001 by Robert Wright

How do societies evolve toward greater complexity in culture and technology? Robert Wright posits that there is an “invisible brain” at work.… read more

The Paradigms and Paradoxes of Intelligence, Part 2: The Church-Turing Thesis

August 6, 2001 by Ray Kurzweil

An exploration of the Church-Turing Thesis, originally written for “The Futurecast,” a monthly column in the Library Journal.… read more

Identifying Terrorists Before They Strike

October 4, 2001 by Steve Kirsch

Brain fingerprinting, a technique proven infallible in FBI tests and US Navy tests and accepted as evidence in US courts, could accurately identify trained terrorists before they strike. Had it been in place on September 11, it would have prevented all of the attackers from boarding the planes, says Infoseek founder Steve Kirsch.… read more

The hows and whys of what led to us

January 21, 2002 by Keith Devlin

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.” Keith Devlin’s question is so fundamental that it is arguably not a scientific question at all: It’s the big how and why question of existence itself.… read more

Accelerating Intelligence: Where Will Technology Lead Us?

March 26, 2002 by Ray Kurzweil

Kurzweil gave a Special Address at BusinessWeek’s The Digital Economy New Priorities: Building A Collaborative Enterprise In Uncertain Times conference on December 6, 2001 in San Francisco. He introduced business CEOs to the Singularity — the moment when distinctions between human and machine intelligence disappear.… read more

Essentials of general intelligence: the direct path to AGI

August 22, 2002 by Peter Voss

Adaptive AI's General Framework

General intelligence comprises the essential, domain-independent skills necessary for acquiring a wide range of domain-specific knowledge — the ability to learn anything. Achieving this with “artificial general intelligence” (AGI) requires a highly adaptive, general-purpose system that can autonomously acquire an extremely wide range of specific knowledge and skills and can improve its own cognitive ability through self-directed learning. This chapter in the forthcoming book, Real AI: New Approaches to Artificial General Intelligence, describes the requirements and conceptual design of a prototype AGI system.… read more

The Future of Intelligent Technology and Its Impact on Disabilities

March 16, 2004 by Ray Kurzweil

Future technologies for sensory impairments will include automatic subtitles on the fly for the hearing-impaired, pocket-sized reading machines, automatic language translators, and intelligent devices sent through the bloodstream. These devices will also augment the senses for the general population.… read more

Molecular Manufacturing and 21st Century Policing

March 29, 2006 by Thomas J. Cowper

Will nanofactories foster global anarchy? Will nations devolve into a technologically-driven arms race, the winner dominating or destroying the planet with powerful molecular-manufacturing-enabled weapons? Or will the world’s Big Brothers grow larger and more tyrannical, using advanced nanotechnology to “protect” their law abiding masses through increasing surveillance, control and internal subjugation? A law-enforcement executive asks the tough questions.… read more

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