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The World Question Center 2007: What Are You Optimistic about?

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    THE WORLD QUESTION CENTER 2007 WHAT ARE YOU OPTIMISTIC ABOUT? http://edge.org/q2007/q07_index.html [Press articles and Slashdot comments follow.] GOT OPTIMISM?
    Message 1 of 1 , Jan 9, 2007
      THE WORLD QUESTION CENTER 2007
      WHAT ARE YOU OPTIMISTIC ABOUT?
      http://edge.org/q2007/q07_index.html

      [Press articles and Slashdot comments follow.]

      GOT OPTIMISM?
      THE WORLD'S LEADING THINKERS SEE GOOD NEWS AHEAD

      While conventional wisdom tells us that things are bad and getting
      worse, scientists and the science-minded among us see good news in
      the coming years. That's the bottom line of an outburst of
      high-powered optimism gathered from the world-class scientists and
      thinkers who frequent the pages of Edge, in an ongoing conversation
      among third culture thinkers (i.e., those scientists and other
      thinkers in the empirical world who, through their work and
      expository writing, are taking the place of the traditional
      intellectual in rendering visible the deeper meanings of our lives,
      redefining who and what we are.)

      The 2007 Edge Question marks the 10th anniversary of Edge, which
      began in December, 1996 as an email to about fifty people. In 2006,
      Edge had more than five million individual user sessions.

      I am pleased to present the 2007 Edge Question:

      What Are You Optimistic About? Why?

      The 160 responses to this year's Edge Question span topics such as
      string theory, intelligence, population growth, cancer, climate and
      much much more. Contributing their optimistic visions are a who's who
      of interesting and important world-class thinkers.

      Got optimism? Welcome to the conversation!

      Happy New Year!
      John Brockman
      Publisher & Editor
      7.1.1

      CONTRIBUTORS

      [160 Contributors; 110,000 words]
      7.1.2

      CONTENTS

      [The contribution themselves follow.]

      DANIEL C. DENNETT
      Philosopher; University Professor, Co-Director, Center for
      Cognitive Studies, Tufts University; Author, Breaking the Spell:
      Religion as a Natural Phenomenon

      The Evaporation of the Powerful Mystique of Religion
      _______________________________________________________________

      WALTER ISAACSON
      President & CEO, Aspen Institute. Former CEO, CNN, Managing Editor,
      TIME; Author, Benjamin Franklin: An American Life.

      Print As a Technology
      _______________________________________________________________

      DANIEL GOLEMAN
      Psychologist; Author, Social Intelligence

      Transparency is Inevitable
      _______________________________________________________________

      GEOFFREY CARR
      Science Editor, The Economist

      Malthus was wrong
      _______________________________________________________________

      CHRIS ANDERSON
      Curator, TED Conference

      Systemic Flaws In the Reported World View
      _______________________________________________________________

      LAWRENCE KRAUSS
      Physicist, Case Western Reserve University; Author, Atom

      Renewal of Science for the Public Good
      _______________________________________________________________

      ALUN ANDERSON
      Senior Consultant (and Former Editor-In-Chief and Publishing
      Director), New Scientist

      The Sunlight-Powered Future
      _______________________________________________________________

      HOWARD GARDNER
      Psychologist, Harvard University; Author, Five Minds for the Future

      Early Detection of Learning Disabilities or Difficulties
      _______________________________________________________________

      MARC D. HAUSER
      Psychologist and Biologist, Harvard University: Author, Moral Minds

      The End of ISMs
      _______________________________________________________________

      STEVEN PINKER
      Psychologist, Harvard University; Author, The Blank Slate

      The Decline of Violence
      ___________________________________________________________________

      DAVID G. MYERS
      Social Psychologist, Hope College (Michigan); Author, A Quiet
      World: Living with Hearing Loss

      Doubling Hearing Aid Functionality
      _______________________________________________________________

      MICHAEL SHERMER
      Publisher of Skeptic magazine, monthly columnist for Scientific
      American; Author, Why Darwin Matters

      Science and The Decline of Magic
      _______________________________________________________________

      PAMELA MCCORDUCK
      Writer; Author, Machines That Think

      Understanding What Really Happens To Humans In Groups
      _______________________________________________________________

      HOWARD RHEINGOLD
      Communications Expert; Author, Smart Mobs

      The Tools For Cultural Production and Distribution Are In the
      Pockets of 14 Year Olds
      _______________________________________________________________

      GERALD HOLTON
      Mallinckrodt Research Professor of Physics and Research Professor
      of History of Science, Harvard University; Author, Thematic Origins
      of Scientific Thought

      The Increasing Coalescence of Scientific Disciplines
      _______________________________________________________________

      DONALD HOFFMAN
      Cognitive Scientist, UC, Irvine; Author, Visual Intelligence

      We Will Soon Devise a Scientific Theory for the Perennial Mind-Body
      Problem
      _______________________________________________________________

      ANDREW BROWN
      Journalist, The Guardian; Author, The Darwin Wars

      A Proper Scientific Understanding of Irrationality In General, and
      of Religion In Particular
      _______________________________________________________________

      PIET HUT
      Professor of Astrophysics, Institute for Advanced Study, Princeton

      The Real Purity of Pure Science
      _______________________________________________________________

      KEITH DEVLIN
      Mathematician; Executive Director, Center for the Study of Language
      and Information, Stanford; Author, The Millennium Problems

      We Will Finally Get Mathematics Education Right
      _______________________________________________________________

      JAMES O'DONNELL
      Classicist; Cultural Historian; Provost, Georgetown University;
      Author, Augustine: A New Biography

      Scientific Discoveries Are Surprisingly Durable
      ___________________________________________________________________

      MARTIN SELIGMAN
      Psychologist, University of Pennsylvania, Author, Authentic
      Happiness

      The First Coming
      _______________________________________________________________

      JEAN PIGOZZI
      Collector, Contemporary African Art; High-Tech Ecological
      Researcher & Director, Liquid Jungle Lab, Panama

      Breaking Down the Barriers Between Artists and the Public
      _______________________________________________________________

      KEVIN KELLY
      Editor-At-Large, Wired; Author, New Rules for the New Economy

      That We Will Embrace the Reality of Progress
      _______________________________________________________________

      HAIM HARARI
      Physicist, former President, Weizmann Institute of Science

      The Evolutionary Ability of Humankind To Do the Right Things
      _______________________________________________________________

      CARLO ROVELLI
      Physicist, Universite' de la Mediterrane' (Marseille, France);
      Author:
      What is time? What is Space?

      The Divide Between Rational Scientific Thinking and the Rest of Our
      Culture Is Decreasing
      _______________________________________________________________

      JUAN ENRIQUEZ
      CEO, Biotechonomy; Founding Director, Harvard Business School's
      Life Sciences Project; Author, The Untied States of America

      A Knowledge Driven Economy Allows Individuals to Lead Millions Out
      of Poverty In a Single Generation
      _______________________________________________________________

      JOHN GOTTMAN
      Psychologist; Founder of Gottman Institute; Author (with Julie
      Gottman), And Baby Makes Three

      When Men Are Involved In the Care of Their Own Infants the Cultures
      Do Not Make War
      _______________________________________________________________

      DANIEL EVERETT
      Researcher of Pirahã Culture; Chair of Languages, Literatures, &
      Cultures, Professor of Linguistics and Anthropology, Illinois State
      University

      Humans Will Learn to Learn From Diversity
      _______________________________________________________________

      SAMUEL BARONDES
      Neurobiologist and Psychiatrist, University of California San
      Francisco; Author, Better Than Prozac

      Finding Mental Illness Genes
      _______________________________________________________________

      ROBERT PROVINE
      Psychologist and Neuroscientist, University of Maryland; Author,
      Laughter

      Things Could Always Be Worse
      ___________________________________________________________________

      STEPHEN KOSSLYN
      Psychologist, Harvard University; Author, Wet Mind

      Human Intelligence Can Be Increased, and Can Be Increased
      Dramatically
      _______________________________________________________________

      ALEXANDER VILENKIN
      Cosmologist, Tufts University; Author, Many Worlds In One

      What Lies Behind Our Cosmic Horizon?
      _______________________________________________________________

      IRENE PEPPERBERG
      Research Associate, Psychology, Harvard University; Author, The
      Alex Studies

      A Second (and Better) Enlightenment
      _______________________________________________________________

      ROGER SCHANK
      Psychologist & Computer Scientist; Engines for Education Inc.;
      Author, Making Minds Less Well Educated than Our Own

      The End of the Commoditization of Knowledge
      _______________________________________________________________

      PETER SCHWARTZ
      Futurist, Business Strategist; Cofounder. Global Business Network,
      a Monitor Company; Author, The Long Boom

      Growing Older
      _______________________________________________________________

      GEORGE DYSON
      Science Historian; Author, Project Orion

      The Return of Commercial Sail
      _______________________________________________________________

      LINDA STONE
      Former VP, Microsoft & Co-Founder & Director, Microsoft's Virtual
      Worlds Group/Social Computing Group

      Using Technology Toward a Healthier Global Community
      _______________________________________________________________

      JERRY ADLER
      Senior Editor, Newsweek; Author High Rise

      Sometime In the Twenty-First Century I Will Understand
      Twentieth-Century Physics
      _______________________________________________________________

      BRIAN GOODWIN
      Biologist, Schumacher College, Devon, UK; Author, How The Leopard
      Changed Its Spots

      Our Ability As a Species to Respond To the Challenge Presented By
      Peak Oil
      _______________________________________________________________

      GEOFFREY MILLER
      Evolutionary Psychologist, University of New Mexico; Author, The
      Mating Mind

      Death
      ___________________________________________________________________

      REBECCA GOLDSTEIN
      Philosopher, Harvard University; Author, Betraying Spinoza

      We Have the Capacity to Understand One Another
      _______________________________________________________________

      NASSIM TALEB
      Epistemologist of Randomness and Applied Statistician; Author,
      Fooled By Randomness

      The Birth of Stochastic Science
      _______________________________________________________________

      JARED DIAMOND
      Biologist; Geographer, UCLA; Author, Collapse

      Good Choices Sometimes Prevail
      _______________________________________________________________

      JOHN HORGAN
      Director, the Center for Science Writings, Stevens Institute of
      Technology; Author, Rational Mysticism

      War Will End
      _______________________________________________________________

      SUSAN BLACKMORE
      Psychologist and Skeptic; Author, Consciousness: An Introduction

      Our Civilisation Will Survive the Coming Climate Catastrophe
      _______________________________________________________________

      LEO CHALUPA
      Ophthalmologist and Neurobiologist, University of California, Davis

      We Will Lead Healthy and Productive Lives Well Past Our Tenth
      Decade
      _______________________________________________________________

      SAM HARRIS
      Neuroscience Researcher; Author, The End of Faith

      We Are Making Moral Progress
      _______________________________________________________________

      RAY KURZWEIL
      Inventor and Technologist; Author, The Singularity Is Near: When
      Humans Transcend Biology

      I'm Confident About Energy, the Environment, Longevity, and Wealth;
      I'm Optimistic (But Not Necessarily Confident) Of the Avoideance Of
      Existential Downsides; And I'm Hopeful (But Not Necessarily
      Optimistic) About a Repeat Of 9-11 (Or Worse)
      _______________________________________________________________

      MATT RIDLEY
      Science Writer; Founding chairman of the International Centre for
      Life; Author, Francis Crick: Discoverer of the Genetic Code

      The Future
      _______________________________________________________________

      DOUGLAS RUSHKOFF
      Media Analyst; Documentary Writer; Author, Get Back in the Box :
      Innovation from the Inside Out

      Human Beings Are Different
      ___________________________________________________________________

      LISA RANDALL
      Physicist, Harvard University; Author, Warped Passages

      People Will Increasingly Value Truth (Over Truthiness)
      _______________________________________________________________

      FREEMAN DYSON
      Physicist, Institute of Advanced Study, Author, Disturbing the
      Universe

      HAR1 (Human Accelerated Region 1) As a New Tool Leading Us Toward a
      Deep Understanding of Human Nature
      _______________________________________________________________

      RANDOLPH M. NESSE
      Psychiatrist, University of Michigan; Coauthor, Why We Get Sick

      We Will Find New Ways To Block Pessimism
      _______________________________________________________________

      ANDRIAN KREYE
      Feuilleton (Arts & Ideas) Editor, Sueddeutsche Zeitung, Munich

      We Will Overcome Agnotology (The Cultural Production of Ignorance)
      _______________________________________________________________

      DAVID GELERNTER
      Computer Scientist, Yale University; Chief Scientist, Mirror Worlds
      Technologies; Author, Drawing Life

      The Future of Software
      _______________________________________________________________

      JONATHAN HAIDT
      Psychologist, University of Virginia

      The Baby Boomers Will Soon Retire
      _______________________________________________________________

      CHARLES SEIFE
      Professor of Journalism, New York University; formerly journalist,
      Science magazine; Author, Zero: The Biography Of A Dangerous Idea

      Pessimistic In Its Optimism
      _______________________________________________________________

      JAMES GEARY
      Former Europe editor, Time Magazine; Author, The World in a Phrase

      PCT Will Allow People To Take Individual Action to Tackle a Global
      Problem
      _______________________________________________________________

      WILLIAM CALVIN
      Professor, The University of Washington School of Medicine; Author,
      A Brain For All Seasons

      The Climate Optimist
      _______________________________________________________________

      KAI KRAUSE
      Software and Design Pioneer

      Neo-Contentism
      ___________________________________________________________________

      GEORGE CHURCH
      Professor of Genetics, Harvard Medical School; Director, Center for
      Computational Genetics

      Personal Genomics Will Arrive This Year, and With It a
      Revolutionary Wave Of Volunteerism and Self-Knowledge
      _______________________________________________________________

      CHRIS DIBONA
      Open Source Programs Manager, Google Inc.; Editor, Open Sources:
      Voices From the Open Source Software Revolution and Open Sources
      2.0

      Widely Available, Constantly Renewing, High Resolution Images of
      the Earth Will End Conflict and Ecological Devastation As We Know
      It
      _______________________________________________________________

      TERRENCE SEJNOWSKI
      Computational Neuroscientist, Salk Institute, Coauthor, The
      Computational Brain

      A Breakthrough in Understanding Intelligence is around the Corner
      _______________________________________________________________

      PHILIP CAMPBELL
      Editor-in Chief, Nature

      Optimism Needs To Have Bite So That Pioneering Work In Early Cancer
      Detection Is Championed and Funded
      _______________________________________________________________

      GINO SEGRE
      Physicist, University of Pennsylvania; Author: Faust In Copenhagen:
      A Struggle for the Soul of Physics

      The Future Of String Theory
      _______________________________________________________________

      ERNST POPPEL
      Neuroscientist, Chairman, Board of Directors, Human Science Center
      and Department of Medical Psychology, Munich University, Germany;
      Author, Mindworks

      "Monocausalitis" -- Pestimistic Optimism To Overcome a Common
      Disease
      _______________________________________________________________

      SETH LLOYD
      Quantum Mechanical Engineer, MIT, Author, Programing the Universe

      My Stupid, but Not Misguided, Optimism
      _______________________________________________________________

      ELIZABETH LOFTUS
      Psychologist, University of California, Irvine

      The Importance Of Innocence
      _______________________________________________________________

      MAX TEGMARK
      Physicist, MIT; Researcher, Precision Cosmology

      We're Not Insignificant After All
      _______________________________________________________________

      SIMON BARON-COHEN
      Psychologist, Autism Research Centre, Cambridge University; Author,
      The Essential Difference

      The Rise of Autism and The Digital Age
      ___________________________________________________________________

      LEE SMOLIN
      Physicist, Perimeter Institute; Author, The Trouble With Physics

      The Return of the Discipline of Experiment Will Tranform Our
      Knowledge of Fundamental Physics
      _______________________________________________________________

      JUDITH RICH HARRIS
      Independent Investigator and Theoretician; Author, No Two Alike:
      Human Nature and Human Individuality

      The Survival of Friendship
      _______________________________________________________________

      DAVID PESCOVITZ
      Co-editor, Boing Boing; Research Affiliate, Institute for the
      Future; Editor-at-Large, MAKE:

      We're Recognizing That the World Is a Wunderkammer
      _______________________________________________________________

      ROBERT SHAPIRO
      Professor Emeritus, Senior Research Scientist, Department of
      Chemistry, New York University; Author, Planetary Dreams

      Strangers In Our Midst
      _______________________________________________________________

      TOR NØRRETRANDERS
      Science Writer; Consultant; Lecturer, Copenhagen; Author, The
      Generous Man

      Optimism...
      _______________________________________________________________

      MARTI HEARST
      Computer Scientist, UC Berkeley, School of Information

      The Rise of Usability
      _______________________________________________________________

      ADAM BLY
      Founder and Editor-in-Chief, Seed

      Science on the Agenda
      _______________________________________________________________

      JORDAN POLLACK
      Computer Scientist, Brandeis University

      AI Will Arise
      _______________________________________________________________

      EDUARDO PUNSET
      Scientist; Spanish Television Presenter; Author, The Happiness Trip

      We Can No Longer Be Sure Of Anything
      _______________________________________________________________

      MARCO IACOBONI
      Neuroscientist; Director, Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation Lab,
      UCLA

      Neuroscience Will Change Society
      ___________________________________________________________________

      J. CRAIG VENTER
      Human Genome Decoder; Director, The J. Craig Venter Institute

      Evidence-Based Decision Making Will Help Transform Society
      _______________________________________________________________

      MARIA SPIROPULU
      Physicist, currently at CERN

      The Ever Awaited Super-Collider
      _______________________________________________________________

      RODNEY A. BROOKS
      Director, MIT Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence
      Laboratory (CSAIL); Chief Technical Officer of iRobot Corporation;
      author Flesh and Machines

      The 22nd Century
      _______________________________________________________________

      NEIL GERSHENFELD
      Physicist, MIT; Author, FAB

      The Creation As Well As Consumption of Scientific Knowledge Will Be
      Potentially Accessible To Anyone
      _______________________________________________________________

      CLAY SHIRKY
      Social & Technology Network Topology Researcher; Adjunct Professor,
      NYU Graduate School of Interactive Telecommunications Program (ITP)

      Evidence
      _______________________________________________________________

      ANTON ZEILINGER
      University of Vienna and Scientific Director, Institute of Quantum
      Optics and Quantum Information, Austrian Academy of Sciences

      The Future Of Science
      _______________________________________________________________

      DIANE HALPERN
      Professor, Claremont McKenna College; Past-president, American
      Psychological Association; Author, Sex Differences in Cognitive
      Abilities

      How Technology Is Saving the World
      _______________________________________________________________

      JAMSHED BHARUCHA
      Professor of Psychology, Provost, Senior Vice President, Tufts
      University

      The Globalization Of Higher Education
      _______________________________________________________________

      GLORIA ORIGGI
      Philosopher and Researcher, Centre Nationale de la Recherche
      Scientifique; Author, Text-E: Text in the Age of the Internet

      The Impact Of Multilingualism In Europe
      _______________________________________________________________

      MICHAEL WOLFF
      Columnist, Vanity Fair; Author, Autumn of the Moguls

      The Joys Of Failing Enterprises
      ___________________________________________________________________

      GREGORY COCHRAN
      Consultant, Adaptive Optics; Adjunct Professor of Anthropology,
      University of Utah

      The Sorcerer's Apprentice
      _______________________________________________________________

      PAUL SAFFO
      Technology Forecaster; Consulting Associate Professor, Stanford
      University

      Humankind Is Particularly Good At Muddling
      _______________________________________________________________

      DAN SPERBER
      Social and cognitive scientist; Directeur de Recherche, CNRS,
      Paris; Author, Rethinking Symbolism

      Altruism on the Web
      _______________________________________________________________

      HELEN FISHER
      Research Professor, Department of Anthropology, Rutgers University;
      Author, Why We Love
      "Free Love"
      _______________________________________________________________

      THOMAS METZINGER
      Johannes Gutenberg-Universität Mainz; Author, Being No One

      I Will Be Dead Wrong Again
      _______________________________________________________________

      XENI JARDIN
      Tech Culture Journalist; Co-editor, BoingBoing; Commentator, NPR;
      Columnist, Wired

      Truth Prevails. Sometimes, Technology Helps
      _______________________________________________________________

      GARY MARCUS
      Psychologist, New York University; Author, The Birth of the Mind

      Metacognition For Kids
      _______________________________________________________________

      SHERRY TURKLE
      Psychologist, MIT; Author, Evocative Objects: Things We Think With

      The Immeasurables
      _______________________________________________________________

      SCOTT SAMPSON
      Chief Curator, Utah Museum of Natural History; Associate Professor,
      University of Utah; Host, Dinosaur Planet TV series

      A New, Environmentally Sustainable Worldview
      _______________________________________________________________

      PAUL DAVIES
      Physicist, Arizona State University; Author, The Cosmic Jackpot

      A One-Way Ticket To Mars
      ___________________________________________________________________

      DAVID DALRYMPLE
      Student, MIT's Center for Bits and Atoms; Researcher, Internet 0,
      Fab Lab Thinner Clients for South Africa, Conformal Computing

      Technology in Education
      _______________________________________________________________

      ROGER HIGHFIELD
      Science Editor, The Daily Telegraph; Coauthor, After Dolly

      The Public Will Become Immune To Hype
      _______________________________________________________________

      RUDY RUCKER
      Mathematician, Computer Scientist; CyberPunk Pioneer; Novelist;
      Author, Lifebox, the Seashell, and the Soul

      A Knowable Gaian Mind
      _______________________________________________________________

      GREGORY BENFORD
      Physicist, UC Irvine; Author, Deep Time

      Save The Arctic
      _______________________________________________________________

      TIMOTHY TAYLOR
      Archaeologist, University of Bradford; Author, The Buried Soul

      Skeuomorphism
      _______________________________________________________________

      STEPHEN H. SCHNEIDER
      Biologist; Climatologist, Stanford University; Author, Laboratory
      Earth

      The Ozone Hole
      _______________________________________________________________

      DAVID BERREBY
      Science Writer; Author, Us and Them: Understanding Your Tribal Mind

      The Zombie Concept Of Identity
      _______________________________________________________________

      KARL SABBAGH
      Writer and Television Producer; Author, The Riemann Hypothesis

      The Optimism of Scientists
      _______________________________________________________________

      CHRIS ANDERSON
      Editor in Chief, Wired Magazine; Author, The Long Tail

      Metcalfe's Law of Minds
      _______________________________________________________________

      NICHOLAS HUMPHREY
      Psychologist, London School of Economics; Author, Seeing Red

      The Best Is Yet To Come
      ___________________________________________________________________

      RICHARD DAWKINS
      Evolutionary Biologist, Charles Simonyi Professor For The
      Understanding Of Science, Oxford University; Author, The God
      Delusion

      The Final Scientific Enlightenment
      _______________________________________________________________

      JARON LANIER
      Computer Scientist and Musician

      Interpersonal Communication Will Become More Profound; Rationality
      Will Become Ever More Romantic
      _______________________________________________________________

      JASON MCCABE CALACANIS
      Entrepreneur in Action, Sequoia Capital

      Eudaemonia: The Third form Of Happiness
      _______________________________________________________________

      STEVE GRAND
      Aritifical Life Researcher; Creator of Lucy, a Robot Babay
      Orangutan; Author, Creation: Life and How to Make It

      The Strong Possibility That We've Got Everything Horribly Wrong
      _______________________________________________________________

      ANDY CLARK
      Professor of Philosophy, Edinburgh University; Author, Being There:
      Putting Brain, Body and World Together Again

      The End Of The 'Natural'
      _______________________________________________________________

      STEWART BRAND
      Founder, Whole Earth Catalog, cofounder; The Well; cofounder,
      Global Business Network; Author, How Buildings Learn

      Cities -- Global Population Shrinkage And Economic Growth
      _______________________________________________________________

      MIHALYI CSIKSZENTMIHALYI
      Psychologist; Director, Quality of Life Research Center, Claremont
      Graduate University; Author, Flow

      We Are Asking And Answering
      _______________________________________________________________

      ESTHER DYSON
      Editor, Release 1.0; Trustee, Long Now Foundation; Author, Release
      2.0

      The Attention Of The World's Rich Will Turn To Solving The Problems
      Of The Poor
      _______________________________________________________________

      LEONARD SUSSKIND
      Physicist, Stanford University; Author, The Cosmic Landscape

      Going Beyond Our Darwinian Roots
      _______________________________________________________________

      JOEL GARREAU
      Cultural Revolution Correspondent, Washington Post; Author, Radical
      Evolution" The Promise and Peril of Enhancing Our Minds, Our Bodies
      -- And What It Means to Be Human
      The Human Response To Vast Change Will Involve Strange Bounces
      ___________________________________________________________________

      MAHZARIN R. BANAJI
      Psychologist; Richard Clarke Cabot Professor of Social Ethics,
      Harvard University

      Unraveling Beliefs
      _______________________________________________________________

      GARNISS CURTIS
      Geochronologist Emeritus, University of California, Berkeley

      Geomorphic Evidence for Life on Mars
      _______________________________________________________________

      W. DANIEL HILLIS
      Physicist, Computer Scientist; Chairman, Applied Minds, Inc.;
      Author, The Pattern on the Stone

      The Long View of Demographics
      _______________________________________________________________

      COLIN BLAKEMORE
      Chief Executive, Medical Research Council;Waynflete Professor of
      Physiology, University of Oxford
      Things will -- er -- get better
      _______________________________________________________________

      PHILIP G. ZIMBARDO
      Psychologist, Stanford University; Author, The Lucifer Effect:
      Understanding How Good People Turn Evil

      The Situational Focus
      _______________________________________________________________

      BRIAN ENO
      Artist; Composer; Recording Producer: U2, Talking Heads, Paul
      Simon; Recording Artist

      And Now the Good News
      _______________________________________________________________

      MARCELO GLEISER
      Physicist, Dartmouth College; Author, The Prophet and the
      Astronomer

      That the Debate or, Should I Say, War, Between Science and Religion
      Will See New Light
      _______________________________________________________________

      ALEX (SANDY) PENTLAND
      Computer Scientist, MIT Media Laboratory

      The Human Nervous System Has Come Alive
      _______________________________________________________________

      DAVID BODANIS
      Writer; Consultant; Author, Passionate Minds

      A Core Decency in People that Even the Worst Machinations of
      Governments Can't Entirely Hold Down
      _______________________________________________________________

      CORY DOCTOROW
      Science fiction novelist; Blogger; Technology activist; Co-editor,
      Boing Boing

      Copying Is What Bits Are For
      ___________________________________________________________________

      FRANK WILCZEK
      Physicist, MIT; Recipient, 2004 Nobel Prize in Physics; Author,
      Fantastic Realities

      Physics Will Not Achieve a Theory of Everything
      _______________________________________________________________

      DAVID DEUTSCH
      Quantum physicist, Oxford University; Author, The Fabric of Reality

      About Whether Solutions in General Are Possible
      _______________________________________________________________

      LEON LEDERMAN
      Physicist and Nobel Laureate; Director Emeritus, Fermilab;
      Coauthor, The God Particle

      The Coming Revolution in Science Education
      _______________________________________________________________

      JILL NEIMARK
      Science Journalist; Co-author, Why Good Things Happen To Good
      People

      The Human Epigenome Project
      _______________________________________________________________

      JOICHI ITO
      Founder and CEO, Neoteny

      Emergent Democracy and Global Voices
      _______________________________________________________________

      MARK PAGEL
      Evolutionary Biologist, Reading University, England

      The Limits of Democracy
      _______________________________________________________________

      STEVEN STROGATZ
      Applied mathematician, Cornell University; Author, Sync

      Why Do We Need to Sleep?
      _______________________________________________________________

      LARRY SANGER
      Co-founder, Wikipedia

      Humanity's Coming Enlightenment
      _______________________________________________________________

      BARRY SMITH
      Philosopher, School of Advanced Study, University of London;
      Coeditor, Knowing Our Own Minds

      Attempts to Dictate Our Tastes, Our Preferences, Our Culture, Our
      Media, Our Political Policies, Or Moral Choices Are Bound In the
      End to Fail
      _______________________________________________________________

      IAN WILMUT
      Biologist; Cloning Researcher; Roslin Institute, Edinburgh;
      Coauthor, The Second Creation
      Research in Biology and Medicine Will Provide the First Effective
      Treatments for Many Diseases
      ___________________________________________________________________

      LORD (MARTIN) REES
      President, The Royal Society; Professor of Cosmology &
      Astrophysics; Master, Trinity College, University of Cambridge;
      Author, Our Final Century: The 50/50 Threat to Humanity's Survival

      The Energy Challenge
      _______________________________________________________________

      MARCEL KINSBOURNE
      Psychologist, The New School; Coauthor, Children's Learning and
      Attention Problems

      Shortening Sleep Will Prolong Conscious Life
      _______________________________________________________________

      VITTORIO BO
      Director, Festival Della Scienzia, Genov

      How the Achievements of Science Allow Us to Critically Understand
      and Judge the Reality We Live In
      _______________________________________________________________

      BEATRICE GOLOMB, MD, PhD
      Professor of Medicine, University of California, San Diego
      Reforming Scientific and Medical Publishing Via the Internet
      _______________________________________________________________

      PAUL STEINHARDT
      Physicist; Albert Einstein Professor of Science, Princeton
      University; Coauthor, Endless Universe: A New History of the Cosmos

      Bullish on Cosmology
      _______________________________________________________________

      ROBERT SAPOLSKY
      Neuroscientist, Stanford University, Author, A Primate's Memoir

      With The Right Sort Of Priorities And Human Engineering (Whatever
      That Phrase Means), We Can Be Biased Towards Making Us/Them
      Dichotomies Far More Benign
      _______________________________________________________________

      ALISON GOPNIK
      Psychologist, UC-Berkeley; Coauthor, The Scientist In the Crib

      New Children Will Be Born
      _______________________________________________________________

      ROGER BINGHAM
      Cofounder and Director, The Science Network; Neuroscience
      Researcher, Center for Brain and Cognition, UCSD; Coauthor, The
      Origin of Minds; Creator PBS Science Programs

      The Women of the 110th Congress
      _______________________________________________________________

      COREY S. POWELL
      Senior Editor, Discover Magazine; Adjunct Professor, Science
      Journalism, NYU; Author: God in the Equation: How Einstein
      Transformed Religion

      Corrective Goggles for Our Conceptual Myopia
      _______________________________________________________________

      FRANCESCO DE PRETIS
      Journalist, La Stampa; Italy Correspondent, Science Magazine

      Poincaré, Radiodurans and Teletransportation
      ___________________________________________________________________

      BRIAN GREENE
      Physicist, String Theorist, Columbia University; Author,The Fabric
      of the Cosmos

      The Power of Our Creative and Analytic Abilities
      _______________________________________________________________

      DAVID BUSS
      Psychologist, University of Texas, Austin; Author, The Murderer
      Next Door

      The Future of Human Mating
      _______________________________________________________________

      BART KOSKO
      Electrical Engineer, USC; Author, Noise

      Computers Will Let Data Tell More Of Their Own Story
      _______________________________________________________________

      OLIVER MORTON
      Chief News and Features Editor, Nature; Author, Mapping Mars

      Sunshine State
      _______________________________________________________________

      NANCY ETCOFF
      Psychologist, Harvard Medical School & Harvard University's
      Mind/Brain/Behavior Initiative; Author, Survival of the Prettiest:
      The Science of Beauty

      The Hedonic Set Point Can Be Raised
      _______________________________________________________________

      JOHN MCCARTHY
      Computer Scientist; 1st Generation Artificial Intelligence Pioneer,
      Stanford University

      World Peace
      _______________________________________________________________

      MARVIN MINSKY
      Computer Scientist; 1st Generation Artificial Intelligence Pioneer,
      MIT; Author, The Emotion Machine

      New Prospects of Immortality
      _______________________________________________________________

      GEORGE F. SMOOT
      Cosmologist, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory; Recipient, The
      Nobel Prize For Physics 2006; Coauthor, Wrinkles in Time

      Correggio Domani e for peggio! -- Courage for Tomorrow Will Be
      Worse! (The Words of a Born Optimist)
      _______________________________________________________________

      NATHAN MYHRVOLD
      CEO, Managing Director, Intellectual Ventures; Former Chief
      Technology Officer, Microsoft Corporation; Physicist,
      Paleontologist,Photographer, Chef

      The Power of Educated People to Make Important Innovations
      _______________________________________________________________

      ROBERT TRIVERS
      Evolutionary Biologist, Rutgers University; Coauthor, Genes In
      Conflict: The Biology of Selfish Genetic Elements

      Long-Term Trends Toward Honesty to Others and Self
      ______________________________________________________________

      Here are the individual entries:
      http://edge.org/q2007/q07_1.html et seq. (i.e., through 16.html)

      DANIEL C. DENNETT
      Philosopher; University Professor, Co-Director, Center for
      Cognitive Studies, Tufts University; Author, Breaking the Spell:
      Religion as a Natural Phenomenon

      The Evaporation of the Powerful Mystique of Religion

      I'm so optimistic that I expect to live to see the evaporation of
      the powerful mystique of religion. I think that in about
      twenty-five years almost all religions will have evolved into very
      different phenomena, so much so that in most quarters religion will
      no longer command the awe it does today. Of course many
      people-perhaps a majority of people in the world-will still cling
      to their religion with the sort of passion that can fuel violence
      and other intolerant and reprehensible behavior. But the rest of
      the world will see this behavior for what it is, and learn to work
      around it until it subsides, as it surely will. That's the good
      news. The bad news is that we will need every morsel of this
      reasonable attitude to deal with such complex global problems as
      climate change, fresh water, and economic inequality in an
      effective way. It will be touch and go, and in my pessimistic moods
      I think Sir Martin Rees may be right: some disaffected religious
      (or political) group may unleash a biological or nuclear
      catastrophe that forecloses all our good efforts. But I do think we
      have the resources and the knowledge to forestall such calamities
      if we are vigilant.

      Recall that only fifty years ago smoking was a high status activity
      and it was considered rude to ask somebody to stop smoking in one's
      presence. Today we've learned that we shouldn't make the mistake
      of trying to prohibit smoking altogether, and so we still have
      plenty of cigarettes and smokers, but we have certainly contained
      the noxious aspects within quite acceptable boundaries. Smoking is
      no longer cool, and the day will come when religion is, first, a
      take-it-or-leave-it choice, and later: no longer cool-except in its
      socially valuable forms, where it will be one type of allegiance
      among many. Will those descendant institutions still be religions?
      Or will religions have thereby morphed themselves into extinction?
      It all depends on what you think the key or defining elements of
      religion are. Are dinosaurs extinct, or do their lineages live on
      as birds?

      Why am I confident that this will happen? Mainly because of the
      asymmetry in the information explosion. With the worldwide spread
      of information technology (not just the internet, but cell phones
      and portable radios and television), it is no longer feasible for
      guardians of religious traditions to protect their young from
      exposure to the kinds of facts (and, yes, of course, misinformation
      and junk of every genre) that gently, irresistibly undermine the
      mindsets requisite for religious fanaticism and intolerance. The
      religious fervor of today is a last, desperate attempt by our
      generation to block the eyes and ears of the coming generations,
      and it isn't working. For every well-publicized victory-the
      inundation of the Bush administration with evangelicals, the
      growing number of home schoolers in the USA, the rise of radical
      Islam, the much exaggerated "rebound" of religion in Russia
      following the collapse of the Soviet Union, to take the most
      obvious cases-there are many less dramatic defeats, as young people
      quietly walk away from the faith of their parents and
      grandparents. That trend will continue, especially when young
      people come to know how many of their peers are making this
      low-profile choice. Around the world, the category of "not
      religious" is growing faster than the Mormons, faster than the
      evangelicals, faster even than Islam, whose growth is due almost
      entirely to fecundity, not conversion, and is bound to level off
      soon.

      Those who are secular can encourage their own children to drink
      from the well of knowledge wherever it leads them, confident that
      only a small percentage will rebel against their secular upbringing
      and turn to one religion or another. Cults will rise and fall, as
      they do today and have done for millennia, but only those that can
      metamorphose into socially benign organizations will be able to
      flourish. Many religions have already made the transition, quietly
      de-emphasizing the irrational elements in their heritages,
      abandoning the xenophobic and sexist prohibitions of their quite
      recent past, and turning their attention from doctrinal purity to
      moral effectiveness. The fact that these adapting religions are
      scorned as former religions by the diehard purists shows how
      brittle the objects of their desperate allegiance have become. As
      the world informs itself about these transitions, those who are
      devout in the old-fashioned way will have to work around the clock
      to provide attractions, distractions--and guilt trips--to hold the
      attention and allegiance of their children. They will not succeed,
      and it will not be a painless transition. Families will be torn
      apart, and generations will accuse each other of disloyalty and
      worse: the young will be appalled by their discovery of the
      deliberate misrepresentations of their elders, and their elders
      will feel abandoned and betrayed by their descendants. We must not
      underestimate the anguish that these cultural transformations will
      engender, and we should try to anticipate the main effects and be
      ready to provide relief and hope for those who are afflicted.

      I think the main problem we face today is overreaction, making
      martyrs out of people who desperately want to become martyrs. What
      it will take is patience, good information, and a steady demand for
      universal education about the world's religions. This will favor
      the evolution of avirulent forms of religion, which we can all
      welcome as continuing parts of our planet's cultural heritage.
      Eventually the truth will set us free.
      _______________________________________________________________

      WALTER ISAACSON
      President & CEO, Aspen Institute. Former CEO, CNN, Managing Editor,
      TIME; Author, Benjamin Franklin: An American Life.

      Print As a Technology

      I am very optimistic about print as a technology. Words on paper
      are a wonderful information storage, retrieval, distribution, and
      consumer product. That is why I appreciate the fact that many Edge
      forums are transformed into books, and it's why I hope someday that
      there is a gorgeous Edge Magazine that I can flip through and
      touch. Imagine if we had been getting our information delivered
      digitally to our screens for the past 400 years. Then some modern
      Gutenberg had come up with a technology that was able to transfer
      these words and pictures onto pages that could be delivered to our
      doorstep, and we could take them to the backyard, the bath, or the
      bus. We would be thrilled with this technological leap forward, and
      we would predict that someday it might replace the internet.
      _______________________________________________________________

      DANIEL GOLEMAN
      Psychologist; Author, Social Intelligence

      Transparency is Inevitable

      I live in a bowl-shaped valley on the edge of the Berkshire hills
      in New England. The prevailing winds come from the southwest. As it
      happens, a coal-burning electric plant sits in the dip next to the
      Holyoke Range at the southern edge of the valley, perfectly placed
      to fill the air with its unsavory mix of particulates -- the plant
      is a dinosaur, one that due to various regulatory loopholes has
      been able to dodge costly upgrades that would make its emissions
      less toxic.
      Nobody seems to mind. True, the head of pulmonary medicine at the
      local medical center bemoans the toll of the plants' particulates
      on the respiratory tracts of those who live in the valley,
      particularly its children. But those who operate the Mt. Tom power
      plant blithely buy carbon-pollution credits that let it avoid the
      expense of upgrading its scrubbers.
      The indifference of those of us whose respiratory systems routinely
      become inflamed, I'm convinced, is due in large part to a failure
      in collective awareness. As we join the throngs in the waiting room
      of the local asthma specialist, we make no connection between our
      being there and that smokestack, nor between our own use of
      electricity and the rate at which that smokestack belches its
      toxins.
      I'm optimistic that, one day, the people in my valley will make the
      connections between the source of our electric power and its role
      in the inflammations in our lungs -- and more especially our
      children's lungs. More generally, I believe that inexorably the
      world of commerce will surface the invisible toll our collective
      habits of consumption wreak on our environment and our health.
      My optimism does not hinge on the promise of some new technological
      fix or scientific breakthrough. Rather my hope stems from the
      convergence of market forces with off-the-shelf possibilities from
      an oft-ignored field that has already reshaped our lives:
      information science.
      "Ultimately, everybody will find out everything," as a saying at
      the Googleplex has it - Google's corporate headquarters harboring
      perhaps the world's densest aggregate of specialists in data mining
      and other applications of information science. Information science,
      the systematic organization and meta-knowing of all we know, has
      been steadily increasing the sheer quantity of what each of us can
      find out.
      One branch of this science, medical informatics, has transformed
      medicine by making available in an instant to the physician
      treating a patient a vast array of background data on his
      condition, history, prognosis and best treatment.
      One of the more hopeful applications of information science would
      be something we might call "consumer informatics," which would do
      something akin to what is being done for medicine, but for the
      marketplace: make visible the elusive links between what we buy and
      do and the impacts on our body and on nature of the processes that
      support these activities.
      Take, for example, the hidden costs of a t-shirt. The book Stuff:
      The Secret Lives of Everday Things deconstructs ordinary products
      into the chemical impacts their manufacture has had. Chemical
      by-products of textile dyes include chlorine, chromium and
      formaldehyde; because cotton resists coloring, about a third of the
      dyes fail to adhere and so end up in wastewater. There are
      correlations between high levels of dye run-off in groundwater and
      rates of leukemia in local children.
      For that reason Bennett & Company, a supplier of clothes to
      companies like Victoria's Secret and Polo.com, has formed a
      partnership with the dye works that supplies its plants in China.
      The partnership allows the clothes manufacturer to ensure that the
      wastewater from the dyes it uses will go through a series of
      cleansing pools before returning to the water supply, rather than
      simply being dumped.
      Here's the challenge for information science: quantify the
      environmental and health impacts of the standard processes used in
      manufacturing goods. Then tag a given product on a store shelf with
      the relative merits of the impacts it has had, so that consumers
      can weight its virtue into its value. Let us know which t-shirt has
      what consequences.
      Some mechanics of that challenge may be less daunting than they
      seem at first glance. For one, all large retailers now use an
      electronic tagging system for inventory control. This lets a store
      manager know the history of every item on its shelves, including
      the factory where it was made. One next step would be to document
      the manufacturing practices at that factory, and so to tag the item
      with its environmental/public health legacy. This, of course, would
      require the assist of industry insiders, failing cooperation from
      the company itself.
      The global diamond industry offers a rough model via its Kimberly
      Process, which requires nations that export diamonds to document
      that the stones were not "blood diamonds," mined in a war zone.
      Imperfect as that system may be in practice, it stands as a
      demonstration that an industry can tag a specific item from its
      source as better or worse on a criterion of virtue.
      Here market forces may assist, encouraging companies to provide
      such information in the interests of competitive advantage. Some
      marketers have long touted product virtues in marketing. For
      example, Cascade toilet paper claims manufacturing methods that use
      80% less water than the industry average and use no chlorine; some
      energy providers offer an option to purchase electricity from
      renewable sources like wind power. That's a bare beginning, one
      which lets a company select the criterion for the virtue of a given
      product rather than having it be evaluated more objectively.
      If companies themselves do not take such steps, there are
      alternatives. Already anyone can go into a store and, using a Palm
      Pilot to scan the bar code, be whisked to a website that could
      reveal information about that product's level of virtue, say in
      terms of toxic chemicals unleashed during its manufacture.
      But for such a website to have both credibility and teeth demands a
      sustained collaboration between information science and engineers,
      chemists, physicists, environmental scientists, public health and
      other medical specialists -- to name but a few disciplines -- as
      well as manufacturers. The mass of data potentially would be
      immense; information science sorts out the signal from the noise,
      or re-organizes noise into signal.
      That task may be daunting. But I feel optimistic that through a
      sustained effort in consumer informatics, we're heading to the day
      we will be able to vote with our wallets every time we go shopping.
      _______________________________________________________________

      GEOFFREY CARR
      Science Editor, The Economist

      Malthus was wrong

      When I was growing up, the problem at the heart of every
      environmental question was human population growth. If there aren't
      many people around, what they do matters little. If there are lots,
      even careful living is likely to have bad environmental
      consequences. At that time, the Earth's population was about three
      billion. It has now doubled to six. Not, on the face of things,
      great grounds for optimism.

      The population curves in the newspapers and television programmes
      of my youth went relentlessly upwards. That was because they had
      only one, exponential, term. A real population curve, however, is
      logistic, not exponential. It does not rise indefinitely.
      Eventually, it reaches an inflection point and starts to level off.
      That is because a second term in the form of lack of space, lack of
      resources, disease or direct conflict between individuals
      stabilises it by matching the birth and death rates. And that was
      the fate the environmentalists of the 1970s predicted for humanity.

      Such pessimism, however, failed to take account of the demographic
      shift that all populations (so far) have undergone as they have
      enriched themselves. For the negative exponent is starting to show
      up, and its cause is not lack of space or resources, nor yet is it
      conflict or disease (even AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis make only
      a small difference in global terms). Instead, it is the thing that
      the doomsters feared most after population growth -- economic
      growth.

      As a quondam evolutionary biologist, I find the demographic
      transition in response to higher living standards hard to explain.
      On the face of things, better conditions should lead to larger
      families, not smaller ones. However, it is impossible to argue with
      the facts, and the facts are that the rate of population increase
      is dropping, and that the drop is correlated with increases in
      personal economic well-being.

      Perhaps the answer lies in the old idea of r and K selection.
      Indeed, the terms r and K come from variables in two-term logistic
      equation that describes real population dynamics. K-selected
      species, people may remember from their college ecology classes,
      have few offspring but nurture them lovingly. Those that are
      r-selected have lots, but display a Devil-take-the-hindmost
      attitude to their issue's survival. The crucial point is that
      K-selected species live in safe, predictable environments, while
      r-selected ones live in unsafe, unpredictable ones. If the
      individuals of a species were able to shift opportunistically
      between r and K strategies in response to shifts in the
      environment, then something like the demographic transition in
      response to wealth might be the result.

      None of this means that the eventual human population of, say, ten
      billion will be easy for the planet to support. But such support
      will not be impossible, particularly as it is also the case that
      economic growth in rich countries is less demanding of natural
      resources for each additional unit of output than is the case for
      growth in poor countries.

      Malthus was wrong to observe that population increases
      geometrically while the resources available to support it increase
      arithmetically. It was an understandable mistake. It flies in the
      face of common sense that population growth will actually slow down
      in the face of better resources. But that is what happens, and it
      might yet save humanity from the fate predicted for it by the Club
      of Rome.
      _______________________________________________________________

      CHRIS ANDERSON
      Curator, TED Conference

      Systemic Flaws In the Reported World View

      Paradoxically, one of the biggest reasons for being optimistic is
      that there are systemic flaws in the reported world view. Certain
      types of news -- for example dramatic disasters and terrorist
      actions -- are massively over-reported, others -- such as
      scientific progress and meaningful statistical surveys of the state
      of the world -- massively under-reported.

      Although this leads to major problems such as distortion of
      rational public policy and a perpetual gnawing fear of apocalypse,
      it is also reason to be optimistic. Once you realize you're being
      inadvertently brainwashed to believe things are worse than they
      are, you can... with a little courage... step out into the
      sunshine.
      How does the deception take place?

      The problem starts with a deep human psychological response. We're
      wired to react more strongly to dramatic stories than to abstract
      facts. There are obvious historical and Darwinian reasons why this
      should be so. The news that an invader has just set fire to a hut
      in your village demands immediate response. The genes for
      equanimity in such circumstances got burned up long ago.

      Although our village is now global, we still instinctively react
      the same way. Spectacle, death and gore. We lap it up. Layer on top
      of that a media economy that's driven by competition for attention
      and the problem is magnified. Over the years media owners have
      proven to their complete satisfaction that the stories that attract
      large audiences are the simple human dramas. Rottweiler Savages
      Baby is a bigger story than Poverty Percentage Falls even though
      the latter is a story about better lives for millions.

      Today our media can source news from 190 countries and 6 billion
      people. Therefore you can be certain that every single day there
      will be word of spectacularly horrifying things happening
      somewhere. And should you get bored of reading about bombs, fires
      and wars, why not see them breaking live on cable 24/7 with ever
      more intimate pictures and emotional responses.

      Meta-level reporting doesn't get much of a look-in.

      So for example, the publication last year of a carefully researched
      Human Security Report received little attention. Despite the fact
      that it had concluded that the numbers of armed conflicts in the
      world had fallen 40% in little over a decade. And that the number
      of fatalities per conflict had also fallen. Think about that. The
      entire news agenda for a decade, received as endless tales of wars,
      massacres and bombings, actually missed the key point. Things are
      getting better. If you believe Robert Wright and his NonZero
      hypothesis, this is part of a very long-term and admittedly
      volatile trend in which cooperation eventually trumps conflict.
      Percentage of males estimated to have died in violence in hunter
      gatherer societies? Approximately 30%. Percentage of males who died
      in violence in the 20th century complete with two world wars and a
      couple of nukes? Approximately 1%. Trends for violent deaths so far
      in the 21st century? Falling. Sharply.

      In fact, most meta-level reporting of trends show a world that is
      getting better. We live longer, in cleaner environments, are
      healthier, and have access to goods and experiences that kings of
      old could never have dreamed of. If that doesn't make us happier,
      we really have no one to blame except ourselves. Oh, and the media
      lackeys who continue to feed us the litany of woes that we
      subconsciously crave.
      _______________________________________________________________

      LAWRENCE KRAUSS
      Physicist, Case Western Reserve University; Author, Atom

      Renewal of Science for the Public Good

      I am optimistic that after almost 30 years of sensory deprivation
      in the field of particle physics, during which much hallucination
      (eg. string theory) has occurred by theorists, within 3 years,
      following the commissioning next year of the Large Hadron Collider
      in Geneva, we will finally obtain empirical data that will drive
      forward our understanding of the fundamental structure of nature,
      its forces, and of space and time.

      My biggest optimism is that the data will be completely unexpected,
      forcing revisions in all our carefully prepared ideas about what
      will supplant the Standard Model of elementary particle physics.
      Since 1975 or so, every single experiment done at the microscopic
      forefront has been consistent with the predictions of the Standard
      Model, giving little or no direction to what lies behind it, what
      is the origin of mass, why there are three families of elementary
      particles, why some quarks are heavy, and why neutrinos are very
      light.

      Yes, neutrino masses were discovered, but that was no big surprise,
      and no insight at all into their origin has been obtained thus far.
      With empirical data, theoretical particle physics might once return
      to the days when the key to distinguishing good theory from bad was
      how many empirical puzzles the theory might resolve, rather than
      how fancy it might look.

      I am also completely optimistic that within what I hope will be my
      lifetime we will unlock the secret of life, and finally take our
      understanding of evolutionary biology back to that remarkable
      transition from non-biological chemistry to biology. Not only will
      we be able to create life in the laboratory, but we will be able to
      trace our own origins back, and gain insight into the remarkable
      question of how much life there is in the universe. We will surely
      discover microbial life elsewhere in our solar system, and I expect
      we will find that it is our cousin, from the same seed, if you
      will, rather than being truly alien. But all of this will make
      living even more fascinating.
      _______________________________________________________________

      ALUN ANDERSON
      Senior Consultant (and Former Editor-In-Chief and Publishing
      Director), New Scientist

      The Sunlight-Powered Future

      I'm optimistic about...a pair of very big numbers. The first is 4.5
      x 10^20. That is the current world annual energy use, measured in
      joules. It is a truly huge number and not usually a cause for
      optimism as 70 per cent of that energy comes from burning fossil
      fuels.

      Thankfully, the second number is even bigger: 3,000,000 x 10^20
      joules. That is the amount of clean, green energy that pours down
      on the Earth totally free of charge every year. The Sun is
      providing 7,000 times as much energy as we are using, which leaves
      plenty for developing China, India and everyone else. How can we
      not be optimistic? We don't have a long-term energy problem. Our
      only worries are whether we can find smart ways to use that
      sunlight efficiently and whether we can move quickly enough from
      the energy systems we are entrenched in now to the ones we should
      be using. Given the perils of climate change and dependence on
      foreign energy, the motivation is there.

      Can it be done? I'm lucky that as a writer I get to meet some of
      the world's brightest scientists each year, and I know that out
      there are plenty of radical new ideas for a future in which
      sunlight is turned straight into the forms of energy we need. Here
      are just three of my favourites out of scores of great ideas.
      First, reprogramming the genetic make-up of simple organisms so
      that they directly produce useable fuels (hydrogen, for example).
      That will be much more efficient than today's fashionable new
      bioethanol programs because they will cut out all the energy wasted
      in growing a crop, then harvesting it and then converting its
      sugars into fuel. Second, self-organizing polymer solar cells.
      Silicon solar cells may be robust and efficient but they are
      inevitably small and need a lot of energy to make. Self-organizing
      polymer cells could be ink jetted onto plastics by the hectare,
      creating dirt cheap solar cells the size of advertising hoardings.
      Third, there's artificial photosynthesis. Nature uses a different
      trick from silicon solar cells to capture light energy, whipping
      away high-energy electrons from photo-pigments into a separate
      system in a few thousand millionths of a second. We are getting
      much closer to understanding how it's done, and even how to use the
      same principles in totally different nano-materials.
      But what of the pessimist's view that we can are just too
      entrenched in our current energy systems to change? There is a
      world-wide boom in investment in green technology already under
      way. And there are many transition technologies coming into
      operation that enable practice runs for more radical genome
      reprogramming and creation of new nano-structures. Although the
      consensus view is that the sunlight-powered future won't be taking
      over until 2050, I'd place an optimistic bet that one of the many
      smart ideas being researched now will turn out to be an unforeseen
      winner much earlier.
      _______________________________________________________________

      HOWARD GARDNER
      Psychologist, Harvard University; Author, Five Minds for the Future

      Early Detection of Learning Disabilities or Difficulties

      When, at John Brockman's urging, I don the hat of "scientific
      optimism," I think of the early detection of learning disabilities
      or difficulties, coupled with interventions that can ameliorate or
      even dissipate these difficulties. In the near future we will be
      able to use neural imaging techniques to determine which infants or
      toddlers are at risk of having problems in reading, writing,
      calculating, spelling, mastery spatial relations, mastering social
      relations, and the like. (We may even have genetic markers for
      these risk factors). And I believe that the more specific the
      detection of the disorder (i.e. which kind of reading problem, what
      sort of social deficit), the more likely that we can ultimately
      devise interventions that directly address a particular problem.

      But as soon as I have unloaded this optimistic view, another less
      happy scenario immediately floods my consciousness. The same means
      of early detection can so easily be put to malevolent purposes.
      First of all, we won't just determine deficits that can be
      addressed, but also ones that cannot be addressed. Second, we run
      the risk of stigmatizing children from birth--"Oh, you are destined
      to be illiterate," or "you'll never be likeable, because of your
      social deficits." Moreover, we will be likely soon to turn not just
      to deficits, but to efforts to produce the perfect child--to
      enhance perfectly adequate capacities through genetic, neural, or
      pharmacological interventions. Not only does this seem to go
      against human nature and fate as we have known it; it will also
      privilege further those who are already privileged.

      Thus, challenging the spirit of The Edge Annual Question, I think
      that to speak to science apart from its use and its users, its
      misuse and its misusers, is simply naïve. And so, I have to add
      some political remarks.

      In recent years in the United States, we have seen ample examples
      of how science can be distorted for political purposes. In this
      context I recall a remark made to me several years ago, by John
      Gardner, the great American civic leader (no relation). Gardner
      said "There've never been so many young people in America involved
      in public service, community service, social entrepreneurship, and
      other efforts to promote the common good." But, Gardner added
      somberly, "This commitment won't add up unless these young people
      become involved in the political process. Because while they may be
      helping dozens or even hundreds of individuals, laws are being
      passed that harm thousands or millions of persons."

      After the election of November 7, 2006, I feel a shade more
      optimistic about America. More young people are engaged in
      politics, and more idealistic youths are running or considering a
      run for office. America will be in better shape when the leaders
      and graduates of organizations like Teach for America or City Year
      meld their sense of public service with political involvement. And
      this realignment should benefit the rest of the world as well. And,
      most important for the Edge community, such individuals may be able
      to help ensure that science and technology--never good nor evil in
      themselves--will be put to benevolent purposes.
      _______________________________________________________________

      MARC D. HAUSER
      Psychologist and Biologist, Harvard University: Author, Moral Minds

      The End of ISMs

      Racism, Sexism, Species-ism, Age-ism, Elitism, Fundamentalism,
      Atheism. These -isms, and others, have fueled hatred, inspired
      war, justified torture, divided countries, prevented education,
      increased disparities in wealth, and destroyed civilizations. For
      some, they represent ideas to die for. For others, they represent
      ideas to destroy. Though the targets differ, there is a single
      underlying cause: a brain that evolved an unconscious capacity to
      seek differences between self and other, and once identified, seek
      to demote the other in the service of selfish gains. It is a
      capacity that is like a heat sensing missile, designed to seek and
      destroy. It achieves its ends by exceptionally clever tactics that
      involve an ever escalating arms race between demoting the other to
      the level of a pestilent parasite while raising the self and its
      accompanying brethren to the level of virtuous saints. This is the
      bad news.
      The good news is that science is uncovering some of the details of
      this destructive capacity, and may hold the key to an applied
      solution. My optimism: if we play our cards correctly, we may see
      the day when our instinctive prejudice toward the other will
      dissolve, gaining gr<br/><br/>(Message over 64 KB, truncated)
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