Carnegie-Mellon computer scientist Hans Moravec wants to download his mind into a computerized robot so he can live forever. Moravec envisions the day when small parts of a his brain will be modeled one tiny section at a time with microscopic computers. Eventually, his head will be full of silicon, and his old brain will be chopped-up cubes on the surgery-room floor. Backup copies of his new brain can then be stored in lead boxes 100 meters underground, or in satellites orbiting the moon. Author Grant Fjermedal hung out with technoweenies at Stanford, MIT, and Carnegie-Mellon, as well as robotic specialists in Japan, to find out about the latest developments in mobile robots that see, hear and learn.
Fjermedal interviews, cajoles, and hangs with real live cyberpunks Marvin Minsky, Hans Moravec, Danny Hillis, and other visionaries/lunatics doing ground-breaking work in robotics, AI, and the downloading of human consciousness into computers.
The Tomorrow Makers
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If a person is a robot and you get a wiring diagram of it, then you can make copies.
- Marvin Minsky, Computer Science Professor, MIT
We are on the threshold of a change in the universe comparable to the transition from non-life to life.
- Hans Moravec
The result of this is that when I went into the lab and strapped my head inside the black box, it was if I were seeing with my own eyes. The depth and scope of human vision was so completely reproduced, and the color was so clear, that it was at first unsettling and than a wild visual delight.
Someone in the lab went over to the robot-mounted cameras and swung them around so that they focussed on me. The walls spun during the maneuver, and then when the motion stopped and I was looking at myself, the out-of-body-experience began...
"Are you here?" Tachi laughed. "Or are you there? Where is your body?