essays collection

What is the Singularity?

This introduction to the Singularity includes a brief history of the idea and links to key Web resources.… read more

The Open Mind Common Sense Project

Push Singh of the MIT MediaLab describes a novel approach to achieving machine intelligence by teaching machines how to reason heuristically.… read more

Why Sleep?

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

Consciousness

Can consciousness be measured scientifically? What exactly is consciousness? John Searle approaches the scientific investigation of consciousness and its possible neurobiological roots from a philosophical perspective.… read more

Space Wars: The First Six Hours of World War III

Space Wars by Willliam Scott, Michael Coumatos, and William Birnes, Forge Books (April 17, 2007) describes how the first hours of World War III might play out in the year 2010. While fiction, it’s based on real-world military scenarios and technologies, dramatically highlighting the West’s vulnerability to destruction of its space-based commercial and military communications infrastructure.… read more

Are You Ready for a Virtual Reality?

“If you work on technologies, you need to anticipate where technologies are going,” Kurzweil said at the 2000 ACM Siggraph in New Orleans.… read more

Beyond 2001: HAL’s Legacy for the Enterprise Generation

Bill Joy and Robert Freitas debate the perils of a technology that, in the words of the author, is so far in the future that even the word infancy would be premature. But does science fiction indeed shape the future?… read more

Can Computers Decide?

A look at how computers make decisions. By saying computers can’t truly reason, are we being “fleshists?”… read more

Every Curriculum Tells a Story

The traditional classroom lecture and course will be replaced by Internet-based curricula that tell stories, if Dr. Roger C. Schank, one of the world’s leading AI researchers, has his way. The “story-centered curriculum” (SCC) tells a story in which the student “plays one or more roles that he or she might actually do in real life or need to know about, based on the student’s career goals,” he says.… 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

AI and Sci-Fi: My, Oh, My!

A lot of science fiction has been exploring lately the concept of uploading consciousness as the next, and final, step in our evolution, says SF writer Robert Sawyer, who reveals the real meaning of the film 2001: the ultimate fate of biological life forms is to be replaced by their AIs. Paging Bill Joy…… 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

Can we develop and test machine minds and uploads ethically?

A fundamental principle of bioethics requires the consent of a patient to any medical procedure performed upon them. A patient will exist the moment a conscious mindclone arises in some academic laboratory, or hacker’s garage. At that moment, ethical rules will be challenged, for the mindclone has not consented to the work being done on their mind. Does this situation create a catch-22 ethical embargo against developing cyber-consciousness?

There… read more

On genes, memes, bemes, and conscious things

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As human memory, personality, values, and other attributes are increasingly being captured in cybernetic form, they are becoming virtual entities of their own. These “bemes” — units of beingness — are analogous to memes (culturally transmissible ideas) and genes, but go far beyond them. Common sets of bemes will lead to a new “Beme Neural Architecture” (BNA), analogous to DNA. But while DNA expresses matter in a limited way, substrate-independentread more

Two Stars For Peace: The Case for Using U.S. Statehood to Achieve Lasting Peace in the Middle East

World order is essential to reducing the time to the Singularity, says author Martine Rothblatt, citing Ray Kurzweil’s observation that increased order (and lowered chaos) reduces the interval between salient events in time.
In a new book, she suggests an imaginative solution to one major threat to world order: the explosive Palestine/Israeli conflict.… read more

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