Singularity Summit San Francisco, Oct 13/14

Eric sez, "The Singularity Summit 2012, exploring 'Minds and Machines' and 'Emerging Technologies and Science' will be taking place October 13 - 14 at the Nob Hill Masonic Center in San Francisco. The Singularity Summit is the premier event on cutting-edge technologies including robotics, regenerative medicine, artificial intelligence, brain-computer interfacing and more.

Join some of the most brilliant minds in the world for discussions on the most revolutionary technological advancements on the horizon. Speakers include inventor, entrepreneur and author Ray Kurzweil, Nobel Prize-winner Daniel Kahneman, professor and author Steven Pinker, professor and author Temple Grandin, science fiction author Vernor Vinge, and many more."

The Singularity Summit | October 13-14, San Francisco (Thanks, Eric!)


  1. Nah, if they were the most brilliant minds on the planet, they’d know this singularity stuff is bunk, and would have moved on to more important questions, like how we gonna survive on this planet now there’s no more cheap energy, and now that climate change keeps decimating our agricultural systems.

    1.  No more cheap energy? Bwahahaha!  The price of natural gas has collapsed in the United States, and we still have hundreds of years of cheap coal sitting in the ground.

    2. What do you mean by “this singularity stuff”? Are you just talking about extrapolating Moore’s Law and other trends to predict that superintelligent AI is only a few decades away? Or are you saying that AI with intelligence greater or equal to humans–whether designed from scratch or through something like mind uploading or simulated evolution–will never, ever, happen, even if technological civilization survives and continues to advance for another 1000 years? There are plenty of singularity advocates who are pretty cautious about the time scale.

      1. Definitely not in this century. And given that civilization will collapse before the end of the century, as large areas of the planet become uninhabitable, probably not in the next several centuries either.
        If you don’t believe that, think about the devastation caused by this summer’s heatwaves across the US, and then pause to consider that climate change has barely started to bite yet (we’re at +0.7C over pre-industrial temperatures). We already blew the chance to keep it below +2C (that’s 3X what we’ve seen already), and smart money says +4C is the most likely outcome. Climate impacts are non-linear, so do the math.

        Don’t believe me? Well then here’s your antidote to the ridiculous optimism of Kurzweil and his cronies:
        Don’t believe that either? That’s okay, you don’t have to wake up if you don’t want to.

        1. You seem to think you have the same infallible insight into the future that the more starry-eyed singularity advocates have. I do think there’s a fairly good chance that climate change will destroy our civilization (this article has good short summary, and the book Six Degrees, summarized by the author in this article, is a good reference for how disastrous various amounts of temperature rise would be), but it’s far from a sure thing. As the article you linked to notes, although we have committed ourselves to some nasty temperature increase in the future, there’s enough uncertainty about feedback loops that climate scientists can’t confidently say how far over 2C it’ll be–although it’s unconscionably stupid that we have exposed ourselves to the chance it will end up being high enough to destroy us, it’s possible will get lucky despite our stupidity, just like we got lucky in avoiding nuclear armageddon during the cold war despite the foolish decision to let nuclear stockpiles grow to the point where a war would certainly destroy us. Also, as the terrible effects of temperature rise become more apparent to everyone, we can hope there will be more investment in trying to avert disaster, both in terms of putting a lot more money into alternative energy (this study suggests that aerial wind turbines could meet our energy needs if built in sufficient quantities), and also perhaps some of the less crazy “geoengineering” proposals might help to reduce the temperature (like the “cloud brightening” discussed here which is undergoing small-scale tests) as well as carbon capture to try to reduce the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere more quickly than would happen naturally (as discussed in this story, we may be close to the creation of “artificial trees” that can remove CO2 from the atmosphere a thousand times faster than real ones).

          I bring up this stuff not because I’m complacent that it’ll all work out in the end–I do think there’s a good chance we’ve doomed ourselves already with our failure to reduce CO2 earlier–but just because I don’t think doom is a foregone conclusion, although it may be likelier than not.

  2. those are smart people, most of them are nor ‘singularity’ people. Greebo, you have set a lousy tone for this discussion. Sort of a mental cheapness about your comment. As if . . . 

    1. As if… as if … as if what I said is as unwelcome as a health and safety inspection in the middle of an orgy. Yeah, I’m a party pooper. Deal with it.

  3. “Some of the most brilliant minds in the world” do not include sci-fi writers. And Kurzweil has gone all goofy, as otherwise smart people often seem to do.

    1. Yep, came here to wonder whether anyone was still listening to Wolfram after his clear crackpot tendencies.

  4. I am trying to listen to this talk but find it rather distracting that he is rather rhythmically swaying back and forth as if he is on a sailing ship on the ocean.

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