What is time, and what is the right language to describe change, in a closed system like the universe, which contains all of its observers?

Since the observers are inside the universe itself, we must formulate a “background-independent” quantum theory of gravity and cosmology , as well as the notions of time and change, to apply to a system with no fixed background, which contains all its possible observers–perhaps even one in which the laws themselves evolve as the universe does. Lee Smolin responds to Edge publisher/editor John Brockman’s request to futurists to pose “hard-edge” questions that “render visible the deeper meanings of our lives, redefine who and what we are.”… read more

What does it mean to have an educated mind in the 21st century?

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.” Roger Schank asks: what is an educated mind in the 21st Century?… read more

What’s the neurobiology of doing good and being good?

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.” Roger Sapolsky asks: what’s the neurobiology of doing and being good?… read more

What is the missing ingredient — not genes, not upbringing — that shapes the mind?

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.” Steven Pinker’s question: what shapes the mind?… read more

How are behaviors encoded in DNA?

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.” John McCarthy asks: how are behaviors encoded in DNA?… read more

Is the universe a quantum computer?

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.” Seth Lloyd asks: Is the universe a quantum computer?… read more

What must a physical system be to be able to act on its own behalf?

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.” Stuart Kauffman asks: what must a physical system be to be able to act?… read more

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

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?

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

The hows and whys of what led to us

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.” Keith Devlin’s question is so fundamental that it is arguably not a scientific question at all: It’s the big how and why question of existence itself.… read more

What kind of system of ‘coding’ of semantic information does the brain use?

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

How different could life have been?

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.” Richard Dawkins asks: how different could it all have been?… read more

If we are lucky, our pets may keep us as pets

The first super-intelligent beings may not be based on humans at all, but on apes. Since moral and legal considerations will limit experimentation with human brain uploading, scientists may first turn to apes, and they may quickly enhance themselves. Could they become our overlords, la Planet of the Apes?… read more

Movie reviews: A Beautiful Mind, Vanilla Sky, Waking Life

It’s only a movie. Or is it? The three coolest films of this millennium so far tantalizingly blur the boundary between real and virtual worlds and suggest the question: Are you living in a simulation? Spoilage warning: the following reveals plot details.… read more

My Question for Edge: Who am I? What am I?

Since we constantly changing, are we just patterns? What if someone copies that pattern? Am I the original and/or the copy? Ray Kurzweil responds to Edge publisher/editor John Brockman’s request to futurists to pose “hard-edge” questions that “render visible the deeper meanings of our lives, redefine who and what we are.”… read more

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