essays collection

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

The Inflationary Universe

May 1, 2003 by Alan Harvey Guth

What happened before the Big Bang and why is the universe uniform and flat? The inflationary model offers an explanation. It also predicts the observed non-uniformities of the cosmic background radiation based on wild ideas about quantum fluctuations at 10^-35 seconds. Next step: the intersection between cosmology and particle physics.… read more

The Pace and Proliferation of Biological Technologies

March 4, 2004 by Rob Carlson

The parts for a DNA synthesizer can now be purchased for approximately $10,000. By 2010 a single person will be able to sequence or synthesize 10^10 bases a day. Within a decade a single person could sequence or synthesize all the DNA describing all the people on the planet many times over in an eight-hour day or sequence his or her own DNA within seconds. Given the power and threat of biological technologies, the only way to ensure safety in the long run is to push research and development as fast as possible. Open and distributed networks of researchers would provide an intelligence gathering capability and a flexible and robust workforce for developing technology.… read more

Singularities and Nightmares

March 28, 2006 by David Brin

Options for a coming singularity include self-destruction of civilization, a positive singularity, a negative singularity (machines take over), and retreat into tradition. Our urgent goal: find (and avoid) failure modes, using anticipation (thought experiments) and resiliency — establishing robust systems that can deal with almost any problem as it arises.… read more

Kurzweil vs. Dertouzos

March 7, 2001 by Ray Kurzweil, Michael L. Dertouzos

In this Technology Review article, Raymond Kurzweil and Michael Dertouzos debate Bill Joy’s Wired article urging “relinquishment” of research in certain risky areas of nanotechnology, genetics, and robotics.… read more

Foreword to ‘Dark Ages II’ (book by Bryan Bergeron)

July 26, 2001 by Ray Kurzweil

Our civilization’s knowledge legacy is at great risk, growing exponentially with the exploding size of our knowledge bases. And that doesn’t count the trillions of bytes of information stored in our brains, which eventually will be captured in the future. How long do we want our lives and thoughts to last?… read more

Machine Intelligence: The First 80 Years

August 6, 2001 by Ray Kurzweil

A brief history of machine intelligence written for “The Futurecast,” a monthly column in the Library Journal.… read more

Will My PC Be Smarter Than I Am?

November 9, 2001 by Ray Kurzweil

Once we learn how to map the brain and make computers fast enough to simulate it, all bets are off.… read more

Why Sleep?

January 21, 2002 by Terrence Sejnowski

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.” Terrence Sejnowski asks: why sleep?… read more

Arguments for a Green AND Gray Future

May 1, 2002 by Ray Kurzweil

Ray Kurzweil and Gregory Stock, Director, UCLA Program on Medicine,
Technology and Society, debated “BioFuture vs. MachineFuture” at the Foresight Senior Associate Gathering, April 27, 2002. This is Ray Kurzweil’s presentation.… read more

The emotion universe

November 21, 2002 by Marvin Minsky

Why have we made limited progress in AI? Because we haven’t developed sophisticated models of thinking, we need better programming languages and architectures, and we haven’t focused on common sense problems that every normal child can solve.… read more

Remarks about Tod Machover In Presenting the 2003 Ray Kurzweil Award of Technology in Music

August 11, 2003 by Ray Kurzweil

Ray Kurzweil presented the 2003 Ray Kurzweil Award of Technology in Music to Tod Machover at the Fourth Annual Telluride Tech Festival (August 8-10, 2003). The award was in recognition of Machover’s pioneering research at the MIT Media Lab in music technology, such as “hyperinstruments,” as well as his achievements as composer and performer.… read more

Interview with Robert A. Freitas Jr. Part 1

February 2, 2006 by Sander Olson, Robert A. Freitas Jr.

Robert A. Freitas Jr. has written pioneering books on nanomedicine,
nanorobots, and molecular manufacturing. What’s next? The last two books in the Nanomedicine series and a book on fundamentals of nanomechanical engineering, extending Eric Drexler’s classic Nanosystems, he reveals in this interview.… read more

Safer Molecular Manufacturing through Nanoblocks

May 9, 2006 by Tom Craver

Lego-style “nanoblocks” could prevent a molecular-assembly fabber from building an atom-precise nanofactory or devices that could help in any attempt to “bootstrap” production of an atom-precise nanofactory, reducing the risk of proliferation of atom-precise MM to “rogue nations” or terrorists.… read more

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