essays collection By Author | A-Z

The Third-Generation Web is Coming

December 18, 2006 by Nova Spivack

Web 3.0, expected to debut in 2007, will be more connected, open, and intelligent, with semantic Web technologies, distributed databases, natural language processing, machine learning, machine reasoning, and autonomous agents.… read more


February 21, 2001

The “inner light, that private way that it is with you that nobody else can share … is forever outside the bounds of computer science,” argues philosopher Dennett. From Ray Kurzweil’s revolutionary book The Age of Intelligent Machines, published in 1990.… read more

What is Friendly AI?

May 3, 2001 by Eliezer S. Yudkowsky

How will near-human and smarter-than-human AIs act toward humans? Why? Are their motivations dependent on our design? If so, which cognitive architectures, design features, and cognitive content should be implemented? At which stage of development? These are questions that must be addressed as we approach the Singularity.… read more

The End of Handicaps, Part 2

August 6, 2001 by Ray Kurzweil

How technology has and will continue to assist the disabled, written for “The Futurecast,” a monthly column in the Library Journal.… read more

As We May Think

November 1, 2001 by Vannevar Bush

This visionary essay, published in 1945, is a reminder that science and technology can and should be pursued as a means for peaceful and beneficial ends, not only warfare.… read more

Why is religion so important to most Americans and so trivial to most intellectuals?

January 21, 2002 by David Gelernter

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.” David Gelernter asks: why is religion important to some?… read more

After the Singularity: A Talk with Ray Kurzweil

March 27, 2002 by Ray Kurzweil

John Brockman, editor of, recently interviewed Ray Kurzweil on the Singularity and its ramifications. According to Ray, “We are entering a new era. I call it ‘the Singularity.’ It’s a merger between human intelligence and machine intelligence that is going to create something bigger than itself. It’s the cutting edge of evolution on our planet. One can make a strong case that it’s actually the cutting edge of the evolution of intelligence in general, because there’s no indication that it’s occurred anywhere else. To me that is what human civilization is all about. It is part of our destiny and part of the destiny of evolution to continue to progress ever faster, and to grow the power of intelligence exponentially. To contemplate stopping that–to think human beings are fine the way they are–is a misplaced fond remembrance of what human beings used to be. What human beings are is a species that has undergone a cultural and technological evolution, and it’s the nature of evolution that it accelerates, and that its powers grow exponentially, and that’s what we’re talking about. The next stage of this will be to amplify our own intellectual powers with the results of our technology.”… read more

Essentials of general intelligence: the direct path to AGI

August 22, 2002 by Peter Voss

Adaptive AI's General Framework

General intelligence comprises the essential, domain-independent skills necessary for acquiring a wide range of domain-specific knowledge — the ability to learn anything. Achieving this with “artificial general intelligence” (AGI) requires a highly adaptive, general-purpose system that can autonomously acquire an extremely wide range of specific knowledge and skills and can improve its own cognitive ability through self-directed learning. This chapter in the forthcoming book, Real AI: New Approaches to Artificial General Intelligence, describes the requirements and conceptual design of a prototype AGI system.… 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

Open-Source Biology And Its Impact on Industry

March 3, 2004 by Rob Carlson

Technology based on intentional, open-source biology is on its way, whether we like it or not. Distributed biological manufacturing is the future of the global economy and will occur as inexpensive, quality DNA sequencing and synthesis equipment becomes available to anyone. In 2050, garage biology hacking will be well under way. Fear of potential hazards should be met with increased research and education, rather than closing the door on the profound positive impacts that distributed biological technology will have on human health, human impacts on the environment, and increasing standards of living around the world.… read more

Nanotechnology Dangers and Defenses

March 27, 2006 by Ray Kurzweil

To avoid dangers such as unrestrained nanobot replication, we need relinquishment at the right level and to place our highest priority on the continuing advance of defensive technologies, staying ahead of destructive technologies. An overall strategy should include a streamlined regulatory process, a global program of monitoring for unknown or evolving biological pathogens, temporary moratoriums, raising public awareness, international cooperation, software reconnaissance, and fostering values of liberty, tolerance, and respect for knowledge and diversity.… read more

Letter from Hans Moravec

February 21, 2001 by Hans Moravec

In this March 25, 1999 Letter to New York Review of Books, Carnegie Mellon University Professor Hans Moravec counters John Searle’s “Chinese Room” argument, which attempts to show that machines cannot be conscious.… read more

Answering Fermi’s Paradox

May 22, 2001 by Hugo de Garis

Does a vast array of superintellligences already exist? Hugo de Garis thinks that SETI is shortsighted in their search for extraterrestrial intelligence. They should set their scopes on artilects.… read more

Seeing Through the Window

July 27, 2001 by Neil Gershenfeld

What form will new human/computer interfaces take? Neil Gershenfeld discusses the past, present and future of how we interact with computers.… 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

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