essays collection By Author | A-Z

The Gray Goo Problem

March 20, 2001 by Robert A. Freitas Jr.

In Eric Drexler’s classic “grey goo” scenario, out-of-control nanotech replicators wipe out all life on Earth. This paper by Robert A. Freitas Jr. was the first quantitative technical analysis of this catastrophic scenario, also offering possible solutions. It was written in part as an answer to Bill Joy’s recent concerns.… read more

Diary of an Immortal Man

May 22, 2001 by Richard Dooling

What would it be like to live forever? Writer Richard Dooling explores this question in this fictional piece from Esquire.… read more

THE HUMAN MACHINE MERGER: ARE WE HEADED FOR THE MATRIX?

March 2, 2003 by Ray Kurzweil

Most viewers of The Matrix consider the more fanciful elements–intelligent computers, downloading information into the human brain, virtual reality indistinguishable from real life–to be fun as science fiction, but quite remote from real life. Most viewers would be wrong. As renowned computer scientist and entrepreneur Ray Kurzweil explains, these elements are very feasible and are quite likely to be a reality within our lifetimes.… read more

Building Gods or Building Our Potential Exterminators?

February 26, 2001 by Hugo de Garis

Hugo de Garis is concerned that massively intelligent machines (“artilects”) could become infinitely smarter than human beings, leading to warring factions over the question: should humanity risk building artilects? Result: gigadeaths. (See the author’s The Artilect War book draft for further details.)… read more

Respirocytes

May 20, 2002 by Robert A. Freitas Jr.

An artificial nanomedical erythrocyte, or “respirocyte” — intended to duplicate all of the important functions of the red blood cell — could serve as a universal blood substitute, preserve living tissue, eliminate “the bends,” allow for new sports records, and provide treatment for anemia, choking, lung diseases, asphyxia, and other respiratory problems.… read more

The Virtual Library

August 6, 2001 by Ray Kurzweil

The changing library, written for “The Futurecast,” a monthly column in the Library Journal.… read more

Review: Vernor Vinge’s ‘Fast Times’

September 5, 2002 by Hal Finney

Vernor Vinge’s Hugo-award-winning short science fiction story “Fast Times at Fairmont High” takes place in a near future in which everyone lives in a ubiquitous, wireless, networked world using wearable computers and contacts or glasses on which computer graphics are projected to create an augmented reality.… read more

The Intelligent Universe

December 12, 2002 by Ray Kurzweil

Within 25 years, we’ll reverse-engineer the brain and go on to develop superintelligence. Extrapolating the exponential growth of computational capacity (a factor of at least 1000 per decade), we’ll expand inward to the fine forces, such as strings and quarks, and outward. Assuming we could overcome the speed of light limitation, within 300 years we would saturate the whole universe with our intelligence.… read more

The Future of Libraries, Part 1: The Technology of the Book

August 6, 2001 by Ray Kurzweil

The future of book technology, written for “The Futurecast,” a monthly column in the Library Journal… read more

Transcending Moore’s Law with Molecular Electronics and Nanotechnology

September 27, 2004 by Steve T. Jurvetson

While the future is becoming more difficult to predict with each passing year, we should expect an accelerating pace of technological change. Nanotechnology is the next great technology wave and the next phase of Moore’s Law. Nanotech innovations enable myriad disruptive businesses that were not possible before, driven by entrepreneurship.

Much of our future context will be defined by the accelerating proliferation of information technology·as it innervates society and begins to subsume matter into code. It is a period of exponential growth in the impact of the learning-doing cycle where the power of biology, IT and nanotech compounds the advances in each formerly discrete domain.… read more

Robots, Re-Evolving Mind

March 27, 2001 by Hans Moravec

We are re-evolving artificial minds at ten million times the original speed of human evolution, exponentially growing robot complexity. Currently, a guppylike thousand MIPS and hundreds of megabytes of memory enable our robots to build dense, almost photorealistic 3D maps of their surroundings and navigate intelligently. Within three decades, fourth-generation universal robots with a humanlike 100 million MIPS will be able to abstract and generalize–perhaps replace us.… read more

Ray Kurzweil Q&A with Darwin Magazine

December 3, 2001 by Ray Kurzweil

Machine consciousness is the subject of this dialog with Darwin Magazine.… read more

Human Cloning is the Least Interesting Application of Cloning Technology

January 4, 2003 by Ray Kurzweil

Cloning is an extremely important technology–not for cloning humans but for life extension: therapeutic cloning of one’s own organs, creating new tissues to replace defective tissues or organs, or replacing one’s organs and tissues with their “young” telomere-extended replacements without surgery. Cloning even offers a possible solution for world hunger: creating meat without animals.… read more

Biocyberethics: should we stop a company from unplugging an intelligent computer?

September 28, 2003 by Martine Rothblatt, Amara D. Angelica

Attorney Dr. Martine Rothblatt filed a motion for a preliminary injunction to prevent a corporation from disconnecting an intelligent computer in a mock trial at the International Bar Association conference in San Francisco, Sept. 16, 2003. The issue could arise in a real court within the next few decades, as computers achieve or exceed the information processing capability of the human mind and the boundary between human and machine becomesread more

Immortality

April 26, 2001 by Swami Vivekananda

Vivekananda attempts to answer the question: are we mortal or immortal? If we are mortal, no further questions need be asked. But if we are immortal, what are the logical arguments that support this idea and what is it that endures after death? From his talk delivered over one hundred years ago.

What question has been asked a greater number of times, what idea has led men more to search the universe for an answer, what question is nearer and dearer to the human heart, what question is more inseparably connected with our existence, than this one, the immortality of the human soul? It has been the theme of poets and sages, of priests and prophets; kings on the throne have discussed it, beggars in the street have dreamt of it. The best of humanity have approached it, and the worst of men have hoped for it. The interest in the theme has not died yet, nor will it die so long a human nature exists. Various answers have been presented to the world by various minds. Thousands, again, in every period of history have given up the discussion, and yet the question remains fresh as ever. Often in the turmoil and struggle of our lives we seem to forget it, but suddenly some one dies — one, perhaps, whom we loved, one near and dear to our hearts, is snatched away from us — and the struggle, the din and turmoil of the world around us, cease for a moment, and the soul asks the old question, “What after this? What becomes of the soul?”… read more

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