Magazine article The Futurist

Building Better Minds-And What to Do with Them

Magazine article The Futurist

Building Better Minds-And What to Do with Them

Article excerpt

As artificial intelligence technology advances, the event horizon known as the Technological Singularity draws near. Does that mean we must begin preparing for the inevitable domination of our robotic overlords?

Not exactly. While such science-fiction scenarios inspire us to imagine a variety of outcomes of our endeavors, there is much that the artificial--or, more accurately, nonbiological--intelligence needs to know. And so do we. As visionary inventor Ray Kurzweil argues in this issue, we need to build synthetic minds that enhance our own capabilities, and he explains just how we can do that. (See "How to Make a Mind," page 14.)

Science fiction indeed has entertained us with both visions and cautionary tales of such technological advances. In "Asimov's Embarrassing Robot: A Futurist Fable" (page 18), scholar Irving H. Buchen outlines the odyssey of "Andrew," the android hero in Isaac Asimov's seminal tale, "The Bicentennial Man." As his ability to learn and to create made him more like his human creators, Andrew's "fatal" flaw was his immortality. What Asimov failed to foresee in this story was the symbiosis of man and machine that Kurzweil envisions.

Another aspect of technological innovation considered in this issue is its role in tackling some of the critical problems of our time, including resource depletion and climate change. …

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