Stewart Brand / b. 1938 / Illinois, USA / Music Producer, Author, Publisher
A realm of intimate, personal power is developing—power of the individual to conduct his own education, find his own inspiration, shape his own environment, and share his adventure with whoever is interested.Source: Whole Earth Catalog (1968).
Science is the only news. When you scan through a newspaper or magazine, all the human interest stuff is the same old he-said-she-said, the politics and economics the same sorry cyclic dramas, the fashions a pathetic illusion of newness, and even the technology is predictable if you know the science. Human nature doesn’t change much; science does, and the change accrues, altering the world irreversibly.Source: Whole Earth Discipline (2009).
On the one hand information wants to be expensive, because it’s so valuable. The right information in the right place just changes your life. On the other hand, information wants to be free, because the cost of getting it out is getting lower and lower all the time. So you have these two fighting against each other.Source: Whole Earth Review (May, 1985).
Every interview with a public figure should include the question “What have you been wrong about, and how did that change your views?” The answer will tell us if the person is intellectually honest or a tale spinner with delusions of infallibility.Source: Whole Earth Discipline (2009).
When environmentalists are wrong, it is frequently technology that they are wrong about, and they wind up supporting parochial Green goals at the cost of comprehensive ones.Source: Whole Earth Discipline (2009).
Redundancy of function is always more reliable than attempts at perfect, which time treats cruelly.Source: How Buildings Learn (1994).
We are as gods and might as well get good at it.Source: Whole Earth Catalog (1968).
Bill Joy / b. 1954 / Michigan, USA / Computer Engineer, Venture Capitalist
Given the incredible power of these new technologies, shouldn’t we be asking how we can best coexist with them? And if our own extinction is a likely, or even possible, outcome of our technological development, shouldn’t we proceed with great caution?Source: “Why the Future Doesn’t Need Us,” Wired, April 1, 2000.
. . . the smartest people in the world don’t all work for us. Most of them work for someone else. The trick is to make it worthwhile for the great people outside your company to support your technology. Innovation moves faster when the people elsewhere are working on the problem with you.Source: Cited by Brent Schlender in “Whose Internet Is It, Anyway?,” 1995, Fortune, 132(12): p. 130.
Our most powerful 21st-century technologies—robotics, genetic engineering, and nanotech—are threatening to make humans an endangered species.Source: “Why the Future Doesn’t Need Us,” Wired, April 1, 2000.
We have to encourage the future we want rather than trying to prevent the future we fear.Source: Attribution unconfirmed.
Ray Kurzweil / b. 1948 / New York, USA / Computer Scientist, Inventor, Author
Until such time that computers at least match human intelligence in every dimension, it will always remain possible for skeptics to say the glass is half empty. Every new achievement of AI can be dismissed by pointing out other goals that have not yet been accomplished. Indeed, this is the frustration of the AI practitioner: once an AI goal is achieved, it is no longer considered as falling within the realm of AI and become instead just a useful general technique. AI is thus often regarded as the set of problems that have not yet been solved.The Singularity Is Near: When Humans Transcend Biology (2005).
The ethical debates are like stones in a stream. The water runs around them. You haven’t seen any biological technologies held up for one week by any of these debates.“The Singularity,” in John Brockman, ed., The New Humanists: Science at the Edge (2003).
A primary reason that evolution—of life-forms or technology—speeds up is that it builds on its own increasing order.The Age of Spiritual Machines: When Computers Exceed Human Intelligence (1999).
The power of ideas to transform the world is itself accelerating.The Singularity Is Near: When Humans Transcend Biology (2005).
One of the advantages of being in the futurism business is that by the time your readers are able to find fault with your forecasts, it is too late for them to ask for their money back.“The Virtual Book Revisited,” The Library Journal, Februrary 1, 1993.
I quickly realized that you had to have a good idea of the future if you were going to succeed as an inventor.“The Singularity,” in John Brockman, ed., The New Humanists: Science at the Edge (2003).
The primary political and philosophical issue of the next century will be the definition of who we are.The Age of Spiritual Machines: When Computers Exceed Human Intelligence (1999).
Before the next century is over, human beings will no longer be the most intelligent or capable type of entity on the planet. Actually, let me take that back. The truth of that last statement depends on how we define human.The Age of Spiritual Machines: When Computers Exceed Human Intelligence (1999).
To this day I remain convinced of this basic philosophy: no matter what quandaries we face . . . there is an idea that can enable us to prevail.The Singularity Is Near: When Humans Transcend Biology (2005).
Alvin Toffler / 1928–2016 / New York, USA / Editor, Author
You’ve got to think about big things while you’re doing small things, so that all the small things go in the right direction.Source: Attribution unconfirmed.
Man remains in the end what he started as in the beginning: a biosystem with a limited capacity for change. When this capacity is overwhelmed, the consequence is future shock.Source: Future Shock (1970).
Freedom of expression is no longer a political nicety, but a precondition for economic competitiveness.Source: Interview with John Perry Barlow (1997).
Change is not merely necessary to life—it is life.Source: Attribution unconfirmed.
If industrialism, with its faster pace of life, has accelerated the family cycle, super-industrialism now threatens to smash it altogether.Source: Future Shock (1970).