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Singularity Summit 2009 Recap
Singularity Summit 2009 Recap
Singularity Summit 2009 Recap
Singularity Summit 2009 Recap
Singularity Summit 2009 Recap
Singularity Summit 2009 Recap
Singularity Summit 2009 Recap
Singularity Summit 2009 Recap
Singularity Summit 2009 Recap
Singularity Summit 2009 Recap
Singularity Summit 2009 Recap
Singularity Summit 2009 Recap
Singularity Summit 2009 Recap
Singularity Summit 2009 Recap
Singularity Summit 2009 Recap
Singularity Summit 2009 Recap
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Singularity Summit 2009 Recap

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A recap of the 2009 Singularity Summit convention in New York City, authored and presented by Sandy Santra at the New York Semantic Web Meetup on December 10, 2009

A recap of the 2009 Singularity Summit convention in New York City, authored and presented by Sandy Santra at the New York Semantic Web Meetup on December 10, 2009

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    1. Recap of the Singularity Summit 2009 Summit presented by The Singularity Institute for Artificial Intelligence Recap given by Sandy Santra at the Iotico: New York City Semantic Web Meetup, December 10, 2009 ©2009 Sandy Santra
    2. Introduction • Hi, my name is Sandy Santra. Marco Neumann invited me here tonight to give a short talk on the Singularity Summit conference held in New York City back in October 2010. • My general background is 30 years in IT and programming. I’m a Help Desk Analyst at an award- winning IT department that supports an international law firm based in New York City. We’ve been rated #1 nationwide for two years in a row, and #1 in New York City for five years in a row. • The Singularity Institute for Artificial Intelligence is probably the best-known organization in the world devoted to the Singularity movement, and that’s what made me want to attend their yearly conference. • Gary Wolf, a contributing editor to “Wired” who spoke at the Summit, emphasized that one way to communicate better with machines is to learn how to speak a machine language so that machines can speak back to us. • In that respect, the many currents of the Singularity movement are similar to the work being done with the Semantic Web. The bottom line is building languages, architectures, and interfaces that allow man and machine to directly interface with each other. 2 ©2009 Sandy Santra
    3. The Summit—Numbers • The Singularity Institute is • ticket price: $500 based in Palo Alto, CA, and this was the fourth Summit • cost of Summit to SI: $120K they presented, their biggest so far. • revenue produced: $180K • It took place on the weekend • 30 CEOs in attendance of October 3-4 at the 92nd Street Y. • and it’s been estimated that the combined net worth of everyone in attendance was • 833 attendees; 30 speakers $3 billion 3 ©2009 Sandy Santra
    4. The Singularity—4 Definitions • The Singularity Institute defines the Singularity as the “technological creation of smarter-than-human intelligence” • Ray Kurzweil, who still sits on their Board of Directors, defines it as a “rate of technological growth so extreme that technology appears to be growing at infinite speed” • Robin Hanson, a speaker at the Summit, describes it as “an unexpected, sharp increase in the exponent of economic growth, similar to the agricultural and industrial revolutions of the past, potentially replacing virtually all human labor” • And Wikipedia comprises the “technological singularity” as: “self-improving artificial intelligence, superintelligence, breakdowns in the predictability of the future, and rapidly accelerating change” 4 ©2009 Sandy Santra
    5. A Wide Playing Field • Listening to nearly 20 hours of lectures by top scientists presenting hundreds of abstract technical concepts is a little daunting • Not to mention the very wide playing field in terms of what the Singularity actually comprises • So please forgive me, as I’m now going to present an extremely reductionistic taxonomy in order to give you some idea of this developing field in about five minutes 5 ©2009 Sandy Santra
    6. Five Scientific Camps For the purpose of simplification, let’s look at five different scientific camps: • First, the Analysts, • Second, the Architects, • Third, the Artificial Intelligence scientists and researchers, • Fourth, the Biotech scientists, • Fifth, the Neuroscientists 6 ©2009 Sandy Santra
    7. The Analysts • The Analysts are experts in many different disciplines. They use their huge pool of knowledge to expose limitations of the human brain, delve into the nature of consciousness, look closely at the intersection of human evolution and the machines we create, and generally survey the overlapping and oftentimes conflicting trends of the Singularity movement. • Some of the bigger names who presented at the Summit: Ray Kurzweil, Robin Hanson, Gary Marcus, Peter Thiel, Jürgen Schmidhuber. • Their general premise: The big picture is much more important than any specific agenda. • Their modus operandi, then, goes like this: Something really big is coming! BUT DON’T WORRY, WE WILL GUIDE YOU! 7 ©2009 Sandy Santra
    8. The Architects 1 • The Architects are quite savvy about how to merge disparate technologies and leverage unusual resources; they’re extremely creative at advancing the Singularity movement with truly “outside-the-box” approaches. Here are a few examples of these “blueprints”: • Brad Templeton, Chairman of the Board of the EFF, gave a presentation on how to build a cheap robocar that doesn’t require new roads, parks itself, and gets better mileage than even some mass transit; • Gary Wolf demonstrated how crowdsourcing can leverage social networking, the Web, and the iPhone to build data aggregation that beats companies at their own data mining. 8 ©2009 Sandy Santra
    9. The Architects 2 • James Jorasch, a panel moderator, proposed that we pool all existing scientific resources toward developing higher-level AI, thereafter letting this advanced AI do all our science & research. • And as some of you remember from a recent Semantic Web meetup, IBM is working on building a network of GPS and sensing devices to create an “Internet of things” so that the entire physicality of our planet would become “sentient” on the Web. • The Architects’ general premise: It’s all about the data—how to structure it, how to connect it, and how to use it. • Their very positive and practical M.O.: WE WILL BUILD IT! 9 ©2009 Sandy Santra
    10. Artificial Intelligence 1 • The AI scientists predict an “intelligence explosion” in the coming years, including the arrival of a machine more intelligent than us that could easily build more intelligent machines than itself. • Stephen Wolfram, Marcus Hutter, Ben Goertzel, Itamar Arel, and many others are proponents of the development of “Artificial General Intelligence,” an AI strong enough to perform “general intelligent action” that matches or exceeds human intelligence. • They’re using mice, computer models, and virtual worlds to run their tests, leveraging cognitive synergy to associate different types of memory with different algorithms, as well as building in the ability to resolve linguistic ambiguity. 10 ©2009 Sandy Santra
    11. Artificial Intelligence 2 • Ben Goertzel posits that we can create “software that can achieve complex goals in complex environments, including goals that were not conceived at the time of system creation.” • Itamar Arel and others are working from the ground up to understand the structure of the mind, decision-making processes, the tradeoff between wide scope and narrow detail, and the contextual situation inference engine that is integral to how our minds work. • The general premise of these scientists is that machines WILL become smarter than us, so let's focus, tweak, and guide that inevitability. • Their cautious yet sensible M.O.: WE WILL DESIGN THE FUTURE! 11 ©2009 Sandy Santra
    12. Biotech • Then we have the biotech camp, mainly represented at the Summit by Aubrey de Grey and Gregory Benford. They’re developing technologies that will allow us to live longer and longer—eventually forever—using genetics, genomics, gerontology, cryonics, and “SENS” (that’s “Strategies for Engineered Negligible Senescence”). • de Grey maintains that once medicine and related technologies improve to the point where they can repair any defect of the human body, humans will have reached what he calls “Longevity Escape Velocity,” after which point they’ll be able to live forever. His term for this landmark turning point in human history is the Methuselarity. • Gregory Benford has founded the company Genescient, a biotech company that “combines evolutionary genomics with massive selective screening to analyze and exploit the genetics of human genomes.” • So the general premise here is that biotech advances will soon delay or obviate senescence indefinitely, without turning you into a computer. • Thus their M.O.: WE’LL KEEP YOU ALIVE FOREVER! AND YOU EVEN GET TO KEEP YOUR BODY! 12 ©2009 Sandy Santra
    13. Neuroscience • Finally we have the Neuroscientists, eager to use Whole Brain Emulation and other technologies to migrate your brain to a new platform. Speaking at the seminar about these and other related technologies were Anders Sandberg, Randal Koene, and Ed Boyden from MIT Media Lab. • Some advantages to uploading: • Population will explode once the age of consent • Live physically, virtually, or both is 18 minutes after birth instead of 18 years • Brain editing, backup, and cloning • The entire world—but PCs especially—will suddenly seem very slow to uploaded humans • Easy software updates • Potential “human originals” vs. clone wars • Some disadvantages: • And, of course, the EULA will probably be 50 • Huge ethical, political, economic impact GB. • The Neurologists’ Premise: the human mind CAN be moved from the brain to a new and better substrate. • And their M.O. is surely the best sales pitch of all the camps: SURE WE CAN CLONE YOU —NO PROBLEM! Um...would you like a backup with that? 13 ©2009 Sandy Santra
    14. The Race to the Singularity • So those are the five camps, as I see it. And there’s a bit of a race to the Singularity shaping up between the two major camps: Artificial Intelligence and the Neuroscientists: • The AI camp wants to build AI up from the ground using science, psychology, and computer modeling • The Neuroscientists are studying the brain and hope to eventually upload it to a different substrate • Then there’s the Independent: Biotech and its related sciences—helping you live long enough to live forever • And finally we have a Write-in Candidate: Stuart Hameroff, who says consciousness is so much more than the sum of its parts—almost directly related to quantum physics, in fact— that nobody has a clue how to get there. Yet his presentation at the Summit had more hard science, more insightful vision, and more coherence than many of the other speakers. 14 ©2009 Sandy Santra
    15. So Who Wins? • Well, I think all three solutions will eventually come to pass: Artificial Intelligence, brain uploading, and the Biotech camp’s Methuselarity. • But for the two major camps, it’s unclear which will arrive first: AI or uploading. • Perhaps a more important question is this: What can save us from the fate of humans in cautionary tales like The Matrix? • The Singularity Institute and Kurzweil are sharply divided on this question. • Kurzweil thinks it will all work itself out. • But the Institute—and many scientists—maintain that now is the time to begin considering ethical, economic, cultural, and political implications of both AI and human brain uploading. 15 ©2009 Sandy Santra
    16. The Singularity— Recommended Study • “What is the Singularity?” (~2000 words) • “Why Work Towards the Singularity?” (~4000 words) • Singularity Summit Videos (on Vimeo) (~20 hours, $500 value, FREE) • Ray Kurzweil: The Singularity is Near (672 pages, $13.60 @ Amazon) • Charles Stross: Accelerando (415 pages, $7.99 @ Amazon) 16 ©2009 Sandy Santra

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