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Consciousness in Human and Robot Minds

June 6, 2002 by Daniel Dennett

AI skeptics offer several reasons why robots could never become conscious. MITs’ humanoid Cog robot project may give them pause.… read more

The Computational Perspective

November 19, 2001 by Daniel Dennett

What does computation mean? Daniel Dennett discusses information architecture beyond the mechanized causation in computers and frames the question in terms of the organization of matter itself. What do models of computation tell us about the material world?… read more

We Earth Neurons

September 18, 2001 by Daniel Dennett

Daniel Dennett on knowledge sharing and the fate of the planet, in which he contrasts individuals and their brains with the trillions of neurons that compose them. The planet has grown its own nervous system: us.… read more

What kind of system of ‘coding’ of semantic information does the brain use?

January 21, 2002 by Daniel Dennett

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.” Daniel Dennett asks: how does the brain code semantic information?… read more

Finishing the Unfinished Revolution

February 21, 2001 by Michael L. Dertouzos

In this manifesto, Dr. Dertouzos introduces a radical vision of human-centered computing intended to make computers more usable, based on natural interaction (such as speech recognition), automation, individualized information access, collaboration, and customization. MIT’s Oxygen project, a prototype to test these concepts, is summarized in this excerpt from The Unfinished Revolution (HarperCollins, 2001),… 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

Thought Experiments: When the Singularity Is More than a Literary Device: An Interview with Futurist-Inventor Ray Kurzweil

January 16, 2006 by Cory Doctorow

Is the Singularity a spiritual or a technological belief system? Perhaps it is the melding of both, says science fiction author Cory Doctorow in this dialogue with Ray Kurzweil. “After all, this is a system of belief that dictates a means by which we can care for our bodies virtuously and live long enough to transcend them. It’s no wonder that the Singularity has come to occupy so much of the science fiction narrative in these years. Science or spirituality, you could hardly ask for a subject better tailored to technological speculation and drama.”… 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

An Open Letter to Richard Smalley

April 16, 2003 by K. Eric Drexler

Dr. Richard Smalley has voiced criticisms of Dr. Eric Drexler’s concept of molecular assemblers, which could be used to implement self-replicating nanobots. Smalley, who discovered “fullerenes” (aka “buckyballs”), is Chairman of the Board of Carbon Nanotechnologies, Inc. and former director of Rice University’s Center for Nanoscale Science and Technology. Drexler, who coined the term “nanotechnology” and is Chairman of the Board of Foresight Institute, responds to these criticisms.… read more

Dialogue between Ray Kurzweil, Eric Drexler, and Robert Bradbury

December 3, 2002 by K. Eric Drexler, Ray Kurzweil, Robert Bradbury

What would it take to achieve successful cryonics reanimation of a fully functioning human brain, with memories intact? A conversation at the recent Alcor Conference on Extreme Life Extension between Ray Kurzweil and Eric Drexler sparked an email discussion of this question. They agreed that despite the challenges, the brain’s functions and memories can be represented surprisingly compactly, suggesting that successful reanimation of the brain may be achievable.… read more

Drexler Counters

December 1, 2003 by K. Eric Drexler

In this third in a series of letters addressing molecular assemblers, Eric Drexler responds to Prof. Richard Smalley’s response to Drexler’s original open letter. Countering Smalley’s argument that solution-phase chemistry is required, Drexler explains that nanofactories are instead based on mechanosynthesis — “machine-phase” chemistry — and “need no impossible fingers to control the motion of individual atoms within reactants.”… read more

Nanotechnology: Six Lessons from Sept. 11

December 13, 2001 by K. Eric Drexler

The Sept. 11 attacks confirmed the ongoing terrorist threat and the importance of proactive development of methods to prevent nanotech abuse, K. Eric Drexler, Chairman of the Foresight Institute said in a statement sent to institute members. The “nanotechnology boom” is beginning, he said, urging members to use their brains and their wallets to “ensure that the field of nanotechnology never has its own Sept. 11.”… read more

The Future of Nanotechnology: Molecular Manufacturing

April 14, 2003 by K. Eric Drexler

The future generations of nanotechnology will rely on being able to effectively arrange atoms. Molecular manufacturing, and the use of molecular assemblers to hold and position molecules, will be key to the future, controlling how molecules react and allowing scientists to build complex structures with atomically precise control. In this essay, Dr. Drexler discusses the benefits and challenges of future molecular manufacturing.… read more

Toward closure: Open letter to Prof. Smalley

July 18, 2003 by K. Eric Drexler

Prof. Richard Smalley has criticized Dr. Eric Drexler’s concept of molecular assemblers. But in recent testimony, Smalley appears to have reversed this position. Drexler, who coined the term “nanotechnology” and is Chairman of the Board of Foresight Institute, again calls for Smalley to clarify his position on what is “perhaps the most fundamental issue in the field today.”… read more

Technology Fear Factor

July 21, 2002 by Daintry Duffy, Sari Kalin

Three futurists — George Gilder, Ray Kurzweil, and Jaron Lanier — agree that emerging dangerous technologies will require smarter defenses, such as standards diversity, decentralized systems, a transparent society, better communications between factions, and mutually beneficial collaboration of business leaders.… read more

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