essays collection By Author | A-Z

How Fast, How Small and How Powerful? Moore’s Law and the Ultimate Laptop

August 2, 2001 by Seth Lloyd

A laptop that looks like a thermonuclear explosion inside of a liter bottle of coca cola? Or a black hole? Read Seth Lloyd’s follow up to a Nature article that pushes Moore’s Law to the limit.… read more


August 13, 2001 by John Searle

Can consciousness be measured scientifically? What exactly is consciousness? John Searle approaches the scientific investigation of consciousness and its possible neurobiological roots from a philosophical perspective.… read more

Rethinking Operating Systems

February 11, 2002 by Bob Frankston

We know hardware has become exponentially faster, cheaper and smaller since the advent of the operating system, yet the interface hasn’t changed much. In this draft of an essay, Bob Frankston proposes a rethink of the assumptions that went into user interface design thirty years ago.… read more

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

Personal Fabrication

October 31, 2003 by Neil Gershenfeld

The next big thing in computers will be personal fabrication: allowing anyone to make fully functioning systems — with print semiconductors for logic, inks for displays, three-dimensional mechanical structures, motors, sensors, and actuators. Post-digital literacy now includes 3D machining and microcontroller programming. For a few thousand dollars, a little tabletop milling machine can measure its position down to microns, so you can fabricate the structures of modern technology, such as circuit boards.… read more

Nanotechnology, Nanomedicine and Nanosurgery

February 13, 2006 by Robert A. Freitas Jr.

The ability to build complex diamondoid medical nanorobots to molecular precision, and then to build them cheaply enough in sufficiently large numbers to be useful therapeutically, will revolutionize the practice of medicine and surgery.… read more


February 7, 2007 by Sir Arthur C. Clarke

The Golden Age of space travel is still ahead of us. Over the next 50 years, thousands of people will gain access to the orbital realm — and then, to the Moon and beyond, says Sir Arthur, 89.… read more


February 21, 2001

Inventor, futurist Ray Kurzweil surveys the complex and daunting initiative to create truly intelligent machines. Neural net decision-making rivals experts, pattern recognition mimics human capabilities. While true human intelligence dwarfs today’s artificial intelligence, there is no fundamental barrier to the AI field’s ultimately achieving this objective, he says. From Ray Kurzweil’s revolutionary book The Age of Intelligent Machines, published in 1990.… read more

How Long Before Superintelligence?

April 30, 2001 by Nick Bostrom

This paper outlines the case for believing that we will have superhuman artificial intelligence within this century. It looks at different estimates of the processing power of the human brain; how long it will take until computer hardware achieve a similar performance; ways of creating the software through bottom-up approaches like the one used by biological brains; how difficult it will be neuroscience figure out enough about how brains work to make this approach work; and how fast we can expect superintelligence to be developed once there is human-level artificial intelligence.… read more

Techies vs. Neo-Luddites: Progress Action Coalition Formed

June 26, 2001 by Amara D. Angelica

The neo-Luddites are out in force to block new technologies such as genetic engineering, nanotechnology and artificial intelligence. The extropians are organizing to defend progress.… read more

A Formula for Intelligence: The Recursive Paradigm

August 6, 2001 by Ray Kurzweil

An explanation of the recursive approach to artificial intelligence, written for “The Futurecast,” a monthly column in the Library Journal.… read more

How to stop commercial air hijackings without inconveniencing air travelers

October 4, 2001 by Steve Kirsch

Silicon Valley entrepreneur Steve Kirsch has an idea for preventing skyjacking: we install panic buttons that put the plane on forced autopilot, randomly select one of the nearest airports capable of accommodating that plane type, and automatically land the aircraft.… 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

We Are Becoming Cyborgs

March 15, 2002 by Ray Kurzweil

The union of human and machine is well on its way. Almost every part of the body can already be enhanced or replaced, even some of our brain functions. Subminiature drug delivery systems can now precisely target tumors or individual cells. Within two to three decades, our brains will have been “reverse-engineered”: nanobots will give us full-immersion virtual reality and direct brain connection with the Internet. Soon after, we will vastly expand our intellect as we merge our biological brains with non-biological intelligence.… read more

Facing Up to the Problem of Consciousness

August 17, 2002 by David Chalmers

The vague term “consciousness” poses the most baffling problems in the science of the mind. Philosopher David Chalmers presents a nonreductive theory of consciousness based on principles of structural coherence (tied to awareness) and organizational invariance (e.g., a silicon isomorph of a human can be conscious) and a double-aspect view of information (physical and phenomenal aspects).… read more

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