Edge in the News: 2015

Samuel Arbesman, Wired [1.29.15]

This year’s Edge question is "What do you think about machines that think?" My response is less about their likelihood and more about how we should respond, as a society, if this ever comes to pass. Specifically, it involves naches, the Yiddish term for pride and joy...

Read the rest here.

University of Vermont [1.28.15]

UVM robotics expert contributes essay to world-famous Edge conversation

John Brockman's Edge Question is a major event in the intellectual calendar each year—its roots go back to talks he had with Isaac Asimov and others in 1980. This year's question, "What do you think about machines that think?" drew essays from Daniel C. Dennett, Nicholas Carr, Steven Pinker, Freeman Dyson, George Church and nearly two hundred other luminaries and Nobel Prize winners.

UVM computer scientist and robotics expert Joshua Bongard was asked to weigh in, too. ...

...[R]ead the whole essay. It’s online now and will appear in a printed book as each of the Edge questions—like “What will change everything?” (2009) and “What is your dangerous idea?” (2006)—has for the last decade.

Tania Lombrozo, NPR [1.26.15]

Thinking machines are consistently in the news these days, and often a topic of discussion here at 13.7. Last week, Alva Noë came out as a singularity skeptic, and three of us contributed to Edge.org's annual question for 2015: What do you think about machines that think?

In response to the Edge.org question, I argued that we shouldn't be chauvinists when it comes to defining thinking — that is, we should resist the temptation to restrict what counts as thinking to "thinking like adult humans" or "thinking like contemporary computers." Marcelo Gleiser suggested that we're already living as transhumans, enhanced by our technogadgets and medical improvements. And Stuart Kauffman considered Turing machines, the quantum and human choice.

In addressing the relationship between humans and thinking machines, all three of our responses — and those by many others — raised questions about what (if anything) makes us uniquely human. Part of what's fascinating about the idea of thinking machines, after all, is that they seem to approach and encroach on a uniquely human niche, homo sapiens — the wise.

The Oregonian [1.25.15]

— Oh, to have lived in the age of the Parisian salons of the Enlightenment and been privy to some of the great intellectual discussions that went on there between writers, artists, philosophers, politicians and perhaps some budding scientists. Then again, I'm rather fond of the 21st century ands its modern medicine, indoor plumbing and smart websites. On the subject of clever websites, I give you Edge.org, which is a place where brilliant minds from many disciplines gather to mull a big annual question. In 2014, the annual question was "What scientific idea is ready for retirement?"

The responses covered things like the concept of race, barriers of scientific understanding, Moore's Law and the robustness (or lack thereof) of large studies. There's a lot to wade through there, but if you're into science, it's worth a peek. 

La Nacion [1.25.15]

Domingo 25, de enero do 2015 | lanacion.com (Buenos Aires)

More than 180 scientists, philosophers, writers and technicians responded to the annual call Edge.org website with original reflections on the scope, risks and possibilities of artificial intelligence, a field-edge science that is already bringing the future to present

Artificial intelligence, is one of the most promising developments of modern science, or risk to humanity? Between these two poles, with irony, optimism and caution, the 186 scientists, writers and thinkers convened this year by Edge.org-a website associated with a publisher that promotes thinking and discussion of the art in science, arts and moved literature- to meet its annual question. The collaborators wrote brief essays available on the web ( www.edge.org ) and, like every year, will soon have its publication on paper. Here a selection of their responses.

Pamela McCorduck, Steven Pinker, Irene Pepperberg, Thomas A. Bass, Paul Davies, Nicholas G. Carr.

Alison Gopnik, The Wall Street Journal [1.22.15]

 

Every January the intellectual impresario and literary agent John Brockman (who represents me, I should disclose) asks a large group of thinkers a single question on his website, edge.org. This year it is: “What do you think about machines that think?” There are lots of interesting answers, ranging from the skeptical to the apocalyptic.

I’m not sure that asking whether machines can think is the right question, though. As someone once said, it’s like asking whether submarines can swim. But we can ask whether machines can learn, and especially, whether they can learn as well as 3-year-olds. ...

Sheizaf Rafaeli, Calcalist [1.22.15]

180 intellectuals responded to this Edge annual question - "What do you think about computers that think?" Soon this question may become an issue for all of us

 

"What do you think about computers that think?" The question for 2015 on the prestigious Edge.org site. Each year the site gives the same question to more than 180 intellectuals and publishes their answers in one sequence, later published as a thick book. Respondents ranged from columnists in The New York Times, Nobel Prize winners, best-selling authors, and heroes of the technology world, many of them close friends of the site's colorful editor, literary agent John Brockman. Previously published questions: "What scientific concept has to retire?", "What tools will improve everyone's thinking?" and "What should we be worried about? ". This year, as mentioned, Brockman called 180 intellectuals to express an opinion on the question Hawking has been talking about. And Disclosure: I was delighted to receive an invitation to participate this year in most of this dialogue, and my response, ordered to be short - even short of this column - for the annual anthology published.

Several respondents, including the writer Pamela McCorduck, Italian physicist Carlo Rovelli, Professor Margaret Levi of Stanford University and the Israel Prize laureate and former president of the Weizmann Institute Haim Harari, refer to machines that think as inevitable, and in large measure daily. Interest in human responsibility and proper management like any other field, and material nightmares. More than the machines thinking like people, I am concerned about people who think like machines, writes Harari.

Others relate to the very dismissive forecast: Vice President for Research of the George Washington University, Neurobiologist, Leo Chalupa doubts machines will be capable of abstract thought. Science fiction writer Bruce Sterling writes that computers may be major players in the future, but the script will never write people. They further emphasize emotion and will remain forever confined to human beings.

David Pescovitz, BoingBoing [1.21.15]

Over at BB pal John Brockman's Edge.org, nearly 200 very smart people, like Daniel C. Dennett, Brian Eno, Alison Gopnik, Nina Jablonski, Peter Norvig, and Rodney Brooks, ponder the EDGE Annual Question of 2015: What do you think about machines that think?

El Mundo [1.18.15]

"Another year, and some of the most important thinkers and scientists of the world have accepted the intellectual challenge." —El Mundo


EL MUNDO. DOMINGO 18 DE ENERO DE 2015

"What do you think about machines think?" This is the annual question that the digital magazine Edge launches every year around this time, and which it presents to some of the brightest minds on the planet. Just over a month ago, in early December, Stephen Hawking warned of the potentially apocalyptic consequences of artificial intelligence, which in his opinion could eventually lead to "the end of the human species". But really, should we fear the danger of a future army of humanoids out of control? Or rather we should celebrate the extraordinary opportunities that could give us the development of thinking machines, and even sentient beings? Do such beings along with ourselves pose new ethical dilemmas? Would they be part of our "society"? Should we grant them civil rights? Would we feel empathy for them? Another year, and some of the most important thinkers and scientists of the world have accepted the intellectual challenge posed by the editor of Edge, John Brockman. This is just a selection of some of the most interesting responses.

Nick Bostrom, Daniel C. Dennett, Frank Wilczek, Steven Pinker

EDGE / EL MUNDO MADRID

Süddeutsche Zeitung [1.16.15]

SÜDDEUTSCHE ZEITUNG
FEUILLETON

Was denken Sie über Maschinen, die denken?
Nr. 12, Freitag, 16. Januar 2015 

Once a year, the literary agent John Brockman presents a question to scientists on the website edge.org.. This year it's about artificial intelligence. Here is a selection of responses [three parts on Süddeutsche.de online): 

Responses by David Gelernter, Peter Norvig and Douglas Coupland, Alison Gopnik, Brian Eno and Daniel L. Everett, Seth Lloyd, Thomas Metsinger, Susan Blackmore

Part I: David Gelernter, Peter Norvig and Douglas Coupland Jan 16
Part II: Alison Gopnik, Brian Eno and Daniel L. Everett Jan 17
Part III: Seth Lloyd, Thomas Metzinger, Susan Blackmore Jan 18

[Continue]

 

The Motley Fool [1.6.15]

I read the book This Will Make You Smarter. 

It's an amazing compilation of short essays written by some of the world's most talented scientists, authors, and businessmen, written in a way anyone can understand.

The contributors were asked, "What scientific concept would improve everybody's cognitive toolkit?"

Let me tell you, the book lives up to its title. 

Here are six passages I found especially smart. 

  1. Science is never certain...[more]
  2. Learn from as many disciplines as you can...[more]
  3. Happiness is complicated...[more]
  4. You're nothing special...[more]
  5. But everyone thinks they are...[more]
  6. You can never be too open-minded...[more]
 
Go buy the book here. It's wonderful.

Ciência Hoje [1.6.15]

During the year just ended, Edge.org put to discussion the question What scientific idea is ready for retirement? Jerry Coyne pointed out in response to the idea of free will: "When pressed, Nearly all scientists and philosophers most admit this. Determinism and materialism, They agree, win the day. But they're remarkably quiet about it. Instead of spreading the important scientific message que our behaviors are the deterministic results of a physical process, they'd rather invent new "compatibilist" versions of free will: versions que comport with determinism. "Well, When We order strawberry ice cream we really Could Not have ordered vanilla, "They Say," but we still have free will in another sense. And it's the sense only that's important. "" * Essayist, core member of Studies of Science, Technology and Society (ICPD). Writes under the new orthographic agreement...

...2014 Edge Annual Question Video by Jesse Dylan from Edge Foundation on Vimeo.

 

News247 [1.2.15]

...In 1996 Egde.org website was made that was designed to put on a virtual room known scientists and philosophers and to ask each other the questions dangerous ideas-or rather the questions that each strives to respond to science.

Since then every year Edge.org publishes a book with the question of the year. For example this year's question is "What scientific concept is ready for retirement." The 2006 question was "What is your own dangerous idea." Will glean some ideas so dangerous for the good of the year 2015. Let me note that the word does not mean dangerous and necessary bad ideas. It means that we will change our lives. ...