essays collection By Author | A-Z

Intelligence as an Emergent Behavior or, The Songs of Eden

May 2, 2002 by W. Daniel Hillis

Could we build a thinking machine by simply hooking together a large network of artificial neurons and waiting for intelligence to spontaneously emerge? Not likely, but by studying the properties of biological and emergent systems, a carefully constructed network of artificial neurons could be inoculated with thought, similar to yeast’s role in making beer. The clue may be in the “songs” of apes.… read more

Richard Feynman and The Connection Machine

June 24, 2002 by W. Daniel Hillis

Nobel prize winner physicist Richard Feynman played a critical role in developing the first parallel-processing computer and finding innovative uses for it in numerical computing and building neural networks as well as physical simulation with cellular-automata (such as turbulent fluid flow), working with Stephen Wolfram.… read more

Bioterrorism and SARS

April 17, 2003 by Mae-Wan Ho

The world has been whipped up into hysteria over terrorist attacks and “weapons of mass destruction.”
Governments want to ban the publication of sensitive scientific research results, and a group of major life sciences editors and authors has concurred. Some even suggest an international body to police research and publication. Dr. Mae-Wan Ho looks at the current SARS epidemic and argues why all of those measures to control bioterrorism are misplaced, and what’s really needed.… read more

Global Space Warfare Technologies: Influences, Trends, and the Road Ahead

July 4, 2010 by Matthew Hoey

The Starfire Optical Range (SOR) is a directed-energy facility based at Kirtland Air Force base in New Mexico. Many leaders in the arms control community as well as major news outlets have stated that SOR may be a directed-energy system that can disable space-based systems. The SOR is under the auspices of the Directed Energy Directorate of the Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL), which is working on numerous space-warfare systems. (The United States Air Force/DOE)

Given how easily information can spread about the globe today, it is inevitable that space warfare technologies will proliferate. Once one country sets its sights on space domination, other countries are sure to follow, spurring a second arms race of sorts. The international community is in a race against time as technologies are evolving faster than ever before and will continue to accelerate exponentially in an almost biological fashion. If this process continues unabated, it will almost certainty result in the deterioration of peaceful collaborations, an increase in the creation of orbital debris, and the risk of an accidental or spasm nuclear event.… read more

Jim Lehrer News Hour: Interview with Ray Kurzweil

September 27, 2001 by Jim Lehrer News Hour

David Gergen, editor-at-large of U.S. News and World Report, talks with inventor Ray Kurzweil about his prediction that computers will attain the memory capacity and computing speed of the human brain by around 2020.… read more

Forecasts and Alternative Futures

February 19, 2002 by Sohail Inayatullah

This third chapter from Situating Sarkar:Tantra, Macrohistory and Alternative Futures explores non-Western future visions, where progress can be seen in a more spiritual than materialistic light, through the eyes of poet and visionary Prabhat Rainjan Sarkar.… read more

Rethinking Science and Culture: P.R. Sarkar’s Reconstruction of Science and Society

February 19, 2002 by Sohail Inayatullah

The ninth chapter of Situating Sarkar: Tantra, Macrohistory and Alternative Futures by Sohail Inayatullah proposes alternatives to the Western conceptions of science, data, and consciousness, as well as the roles science plays within society.… read more

The Rights of Robots: Technology, Culture and Law in the 21st Century

August 6, 2001 by Sohail Inayatullah, Phil Mcnally

Robot rights are already part of judiciary planning–can sentient machines be far off? This discussion of robot rights looks in-depth at issues once reserved for humans only.… read more

The Rights of Your Robots: Exclusion and Inclusion in History and Future

August 6, 2001 by Sohail Inayatullah

Sohail Inayatullah is preparing for a world in which machines become sentient and begin to demand rights–this article discusses how the machines will participate in their destiny.… read more

Interview: How much do we need to know?

July 10, 2006 by Bill Joy

To limit access to risky information and technologies by bioterrorists, we should price catastrophe into the cost of doing business, rather than regulate things, says Bill Joy. Things judged to be dangerous would be expensive, and the most expensive would be withdrawn.… read more

Clottocytes: Artificial Mechanical Platelets

April 12, 2002 by Robert A. Freitas Jr.

Nanorobotic artificial mechanical platelets (“clottocytes”) may allow for complete hemostasis in as little as one second – 100 to 1000 times faster than the natural system and 10,000 times more effective in terms of bloodstream concentration. They could also work internally. Using acoustic pulses, a blood vessel break could be rapidly communicated to neighboring clottocytes, immediately triggering a progressive controlled mesh-release cascade.… read more

Death is an Outrage

January 10, 2003 by Robert A. Freitas Jr.

Each year, we allow a destruction of knowledge equivalent to three Libraries of Congress with an average value of about $2 million dollars for each human life lost. The solution: “dechronification”–nanomedicine tools that can arrest biological aging and reduce your biological age.… read more

How To Make a Nanodiamond: A Simple Tool for Positional Diamond Mechanosynthesis, and its Method of Manufacture

January 27, 2006 by Robert A. Freitas Jr.

Robert A. Freitas Jr. has filed the first known patent application on positional mechanosynthesis, which is also the first on positional diamond mechanosynthesis. The “Freitas process” — more fully described here — is a method for building a tool for molecularly precise fabrication of physical structures. Methods of making diamondoid structures are detailed here, but the same toolbuilding process can be extended to other materials, mechanosynthetic processes, and structures. And those tools can be used to create bigger structures, which ….… read more

Interview with Robert A. Freitas Jr. Part 2

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

There are very few diseases or conditions–including infectious diseases–aside from physical brain damage, that cannot be cured using nanomedicine, says nanomedicine pioneer Robert A. Freitas Jr. He believes nanomedicine’s greatest power will emerge in a decade or two as we learn to design and construct complete artificial nanorobots using diamondoid nanometer-scale parts and subsystems.… read more

Microbivores: Artificial Mechanical Phagocytes

April 11, 2002 by Robert A. Freitas Jr.

Nanorobotic “microbivores” traveling in the bloodstream could be 1000 times faster-acting than white blood cells and eradicate 1000 times more bacteria, offering a complete antimicrobial therapy without increasing the risk of sepsis or septic shock (as in traditional antibiotic regimens) and without release of biologically active effluents. They could also quickly rid the blood of nonbacterial pathogens such as viruses, fungus cells, or parasites.… read more

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