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Words and Rules

February 21, 2001 by Steven Pinker

An important problem in AI in understanding how language works. In this paper, presented in his Colin Cherry Memorial Lecture on March 23, 1999 at Imperial College, London, Dr. Steven Pinker suggests that we use a combination of memory and grammatical rules to convey information.… 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

Wild Cards: The Nature of Big Future Surprises

March 7, 2001 by John Petersen

In the coming years, the world could experience a series of massively transformative events, or “wild cards,” brought on by radical developments in areas such as AI and nanotechnology. Futurist John Petersen suggests strategies for dealing with them proactively.… 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

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

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

Why is beauty making a comeback now?

January 21, 2002 by Joel Garreau

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.” Joel Garreau asks: why is beauty back in?… read more

Why I Think I Will Win

April 9, 2002 by Mitch Kapor

Will a computer pass the Turing Test (convincingly impersonate a human) by 2029? Mitchell Kapor has bet Ray Kurzweil that a computer can’t because it lacks understanding of subtle human experiences and emotions.… read more

Why Cryosuspension Makes Sense

April 3, 2001 by Terry Grossman

We’re all genetically programmed to die, but advances in nanomedicine are expected to allow for “radical life extension” by 2050. Meanwhile, there’s cryostasis–freezing the body immediately after death with a view toward resuscitation in the future.… read more

Why 2016 was actually a year of hope

January 1, 2017

by Ariel Conn

Just about everyone found something to dislike about 2016, from wars to politics and celebrity deaths. But hidden within this year’s news feeds were some really exciting news stories. And some of them can even give us hope for the future.

Artificial Intelligence

Though concerns about the future of AI still loom, 2016 was a great reminder that, when harnessed for good, AI can… read more

Who Will Rule the 21st Century?

May 25, 2008 by Jack Welch

Straight-line extrapolation shows that China and India, with their faster growth rates, will eventually catch up to the U.S. in terms of pure economic size. But America has a final competitive advantage: its confluence of bright, hungry entrepreneurs and flush, eager investors; and its stable, highly adaptable system.… read more

Who Owns Intelligence?

September 24, 2001 by Howard Gardner

Before intelligence can be enhanced or artificially created, it has to be defined; this excerpt from Howard Gardner’s Intelligence Reframed ponders the different ways in which intelligence is quantified and conceived.… read more

Whither Psychoanalysis in a Computer Culture?

October 24, 2002 by Sherry Turkle

In the early 1980s, MIT professor Sherry Turkle first called the computer a “second self.” With this essay, she presents a major new theory of “evocative objects”: Wearable computers, PDAs, online multiple identities, “companion species” (such as quasi-alive virtual pets, digital dolls, and robot nurses for the elderly), “affective computing” devices (such as the human-like Kismet robot), and the imminent age of machines designed as relational artifacts are causing us to see ourselves and our world differently. They call for a new generation of psychoanalytic self-psychology to explore the human response and the human vulnerability to these objects.… read more

When Will HAL Understand What We Are Saying? Computer Speech Recognition and Understanding

August 6, 2001 by Ray Kurzweil

This chapter from HAL’s Legacy: 2001′s Computer as Dream and Reality addresses the accomplishments–and challenges–of automatic speech recognition. What kind of paradigm shift in computing will give HAL the ability to understand human context, and therefore truly speak?… read more

When Machines Outsmart Humans

April 30, 2001 by Nick Bostrom

Artificial intelligence is a possibility that should not be ignored in any serious thinking about the world in 2050. This article outlines the case for thinking that human-level machine intelligence might well be appear in that time frame. It then explains four immediate consequences of such a development, and argues that machine intelligence would have a revolutionary impact on a wide range of the social, political, economic, commercial, technological, scientific and environmental issues that humanity will face in the next century.… read more

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