essays collection

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

Lunch with Mikhail Gorbachev

April 19, 2005 by Ray Kurzweil

With only 53,000 engineering graduates a year compared to Russia’s 200,000, the U.S. needs to “communicate the importance of science in today’s world,” Mikhail Gorbachev told Ray Kurzweil in a luncheon discussion that ranged from blogs to nuclear disarmament and longevity.… 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

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

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

If Uploads Come First

June 5, 2001 by Robin Hanson

What if we obtain the ability to upload our minds to an artificial medium? What if we can copy ourselves? In this 1994 essay, Robin Hanson looks at the possible social impacts of this question and how human values may evolve.… read more

The Virtual Village

August 6, 2001 by Ray Kurzweil

How technology quietly topples governments, written for “The Futurecast,” a monthly column in the Library Journal.… read more

Accelerated Living

September 24, 2001 by Ray Kurzweil

In this article written for PC Magazine, Ray Kurzweil explores how advancing technologies will impact our personal lives.… read more

The Open Mind Common Sense Project

January 2, 2002 by Push Singh

Push Singh of the MIT MediaLab describes a novel approach to achieving machine intelligence by teaching machines how to reason heuristically.… read more

Radical body design “Primo Posthuman”

February 25, 2002 by Natasha Vita-More

Primo 3M+ is a prototype future body, a conceptual design with superlongevity in mind. Primo by design is multi-functional. It is reliable, changeable, upgradeable, and complete with enhanced senses. Primo is the new designer body.… read more

On the Search for the Neural Correlate of Consciousness

June 26, 2002 by David Chalmers

There’s a variety of proposed neural systems associated with conscious experience, but no way to directly observe or measure consciousness. Chalmers suggests though that there may be a “consciousness module” — a functional area responsible for the integration of information in the brain, with high-bandwidth communication between its parts.… read more

Molecular Manufacturing: Societal Implications of Advanced Nanotechnology

April 10, 2003 by Christine Peterson

The best way to reduce risks from molecular manufacturing would be an open, international R&D program with broad cooperation by the democracies, including a parallel arms control verification project. This requires a decision to pursue the goal and substantial funding. But both of these are currently blocked by the lack of consensus on the technical feasibility of molecular manufacturing. So we urgently need a basic feasibility review by unbiased scientists.… read more

Foresight call to action

December 16, 2003 by Christine Peterson

Despite the revolutionary promise of molecular nanotechnology (MNT), the U.S. National Nanotechnology Initiative (NNI) excludes explicit funding for MNT. The recent Drexler-Smalley debate in Chemical & Engineering News offers an opportunity to correct that. Foresight president Christine Peterson suggests how.… read more

The Need For Limits

March 24, 2006 by Chris Phoenix

Molecular manufacturing will give its wielders extreme power and has the potential to remove or bypass many of today’s limits, including laws. That could lead to a planet-wide dictatorship, or to any of several forms of irreversible destruction. Perhaps the biggest problem of all will be how to develop a system of near-absolute power that will not become corrupt.… 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

close and return to Home