essays collection

Psychology Today | Live forever, uploading the human brain, closer than you think

April 9, 2001 by Ray Kurzweil

Ray Kurzweil ponders the issues of identity and consciousness in an age when we can make digital copies of ourselves.… 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

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

Online Chat with Ray Kurzweil and European Schoolnet

November 9, 2005 by Ray Kurzweil

Ray Kurzweil introduced 300 secondary-school students across Europe to robotics and AI in an interactive Internet chat set up by Xplora, the European gateway to science education.… read more

Techno-Utopia and Human Values

February 3, 2006 by Richard Eckersley

It is our preordained fate, Ray Kurzweil suggests, to advance technologically “until the entire universe is at our fingertips.” The question then becomes, preordained by whom or what? Biological evolution has not set this course for us. Is technology itself the planner?… read more

Infinite Memory and Bandwidth: Implications for Artificial Intelligence

February 21, 2001 by Raj Reddy

Not to worry about superintelligent machines taking over, says AI pioneer Dr. Raj Reddy. A more likely scenario: people who can think and act 1000 times faster, using personal intelligent agents.… read more

There’s Plenty of Room at the Bottom

April 17, 2001

Richard Feynman at Caltech giving his famous lecture he entitled "There's Plenty of Room at the Bottom."  (credit: California Institute of Technology)

This visionary speech that Richard Feynman gave on December 29th, 1959, at the annual meeting of the American Physical Society at the California Institute of Technology helped give birth to the now exploding field of nanotechnology.

I imagine experimental physicists must often look with envy at men like Kamerlingh Onnes, who discovered a field like low temperature, which seems to be bottomless and in which one can go down and down.

Such a man is then a leader and has some temporary monopoly in a scientific adventure. Percy Bridgman, in designing a way to obtain higher pressures, opened up another new field and was able to move into it and to lead us all along. The development of ever higher vacuum was a continuing development of the same kind.

Texas thinks small, plans Nanotech Corridor

June 11, 2001 by Amara D. Angelica

Texas wants to be the nanotech equivalent of Silicon Valley. It has a good start north of Dallas: big bucks, top talent, leading university, and proximity to nanotech pioneering company Zyvex and the Telecom Corridor. But other centers around the country are also in the race to lead the nano world.… read more

The Library Journal | The virtual book revisited

February 1, 1993

An addendum to predictions that appeared in The Age of Intelligent Machines, written for “The Futurecast,” a monthly column in The Library Journal.

One of the advantages of being in the futurism business is that by the time your readers are able to find fault with your forecasts, it is too late for them to ask for their money back. Like the sorcerer who predicted he would live forever, he was never proven wrong – at least not during his lifetime.

Nonetheless, I like to monitor the progress of my predictions. I take satisfaction when projections that seemed so startling when first proposed become progressively less so as the world accommodates ever accelerating change.

Food For Thought

September 27, 2001 by David Dalrymple

Ten-year-old college student David Dalrymple recently spoke at the International Food Policy Research Institute’s “Sustainable Food Security for All by 2020″ Conference, sharing some suggestions about solutions to world hunger and regulation of food and drugs. This paper, written months before his presentation, has some of the ideas he shared at the conference.… read more

My Question for Edge: Who am I? What am I?

January 14, 2002 by Ray Kurzweil

Since we constantly changing, are we just patterns? What if someone copies that pattern? Am I the original and/or the copy? Ray Kurzweil responds to Edge publisher/editor John Brockman’s request to futurists to pose “hard-edge” questions that “render visible the deeper meanings of our lives, redefine who and what we are.”… read more

Robots in the bloodstream: the promise of nanomedicine

February 26, 2002 by Robert A. Freitas Jr.

In just a few decades physicians could be sending tiny machines into our bodies to diagnose and cure disease. These nanodevices will be able to repair tissues, clean blood vessels and airways, transform our physiological capabilities, and even potentially counteract the aging process.… read more

Congressional hearing addresses public concerns about nanotech

April 13, 2003 by Amara D. Angelica

Concerns about the possible negative consequences of nanotech may stifle vital nanotech research that could otherwise result in medical and other important breakthroughs. Expert witnesses at a congressional hearing recommended wider public debate, greater resources to develop defensive technology, and funding of societal, ethical, and environmental impact studies along with technology forecasting and basic science studies.… read more

Molecular Manufacturing: Too Dangerous to Allow?

March 26, 2006 by Robert A. Freitas Jr.

Despite the risks of molecular manufacturing, such as global ecophagy, replication is not new. Engineered self-replication technologies are already in wide commercial use and can be made inherently safe. And defenses we’ve already developed against harmful biological replicators all have analogs in the mechanical world that should provide equally effective, or even superior, defenses.… read more

Why Language Is All Thumbs

March 14, 2008 by Chip Walter

Toolmaking not only resulted in tools, but also the reconfiguration of our brains so they comprehended the world on the same terms as our toolmaking hands interacted with it. With mirror neurons, something entirely new entered the world: memes–a far more effective and speedy method for pooling knowledge and passing it around than the old genetic way.… read more

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