A Selection of Singularity Summit 2010 Coverage

This year's Singularity Summit was held in San Francisco a few days ago, and generated a fair amount of coverage. The event was largely focused on artificial intelligence and other topics not directly related to engineering greater human longevity, but there were nevertheless one or two interesting presentations that touched on related science. Here is a small selection of links for those who didn't manage to make it to the event:

Singularity Summit 2010 - Optimism, Intelligence, and the Future - Oh My

The Singularity Summit is a weird beast. Part science lectures, part networking, part philosophical discussion it comes off as an enthusiastic collection of people who aren’t afraid to think well outside the box. ... [Ben] Goertzel shared his recent collaborations with Genescient using AI to examine the genomes of fruit flies bred for incredible longevity (five times the normal). He thinks AI biologists are the key to understanding human genes and extending human life spans.

Singularity Summit Promises to Stimulate Your Brain

The idea over time is to improve people’s thinking about the future and increasing public awareness of radical technologies under development today and of the transformative implications of such technologies as part of a larger process.

Reverse-Engineering of Human Brain Likely by 2030, Expert Predicts

Reverse-engineering the human brain so we can simulate it using computers may be just two decades away, says Ray Kurzweil, artificial intelligence expert and author of the best-selling book The Singularity is Near.

The Singularity Is Coming; or No It Isn't; or Wait Maybe It Is!

I came here pretty skeptical about it. When you look at what has actually been achieved so far on the AI front, it's all pretty primitive. But I can't deny that my skepticism is being, if not assuaged, at least chipped away at and complicated. ... And you talk to a guy who's been breeding fruit flies for longevity for 30 years and studying the changes in their genome and figuring out how we could manipulate the human genome in similar ways ... well, it's good to know somebody's working on that.

You'll find a whole bunch of archived liveblogging from the Summit at the Speculist:

The Singularity Summit was an exciting two days. I had a great time meeting up with old friends and making new ones. I hope I was able to convey a little of the energy and give a glimpse of some of the amazing ideas that were covered.

Now if we could just arrange matters such that the engineered longevity conferences generate this much discussion, light, and noise. This is not a trivial task, of course. Behind the chatter lies a great deal of careful arrangement, networking, and years of groundwork by the Summit organizers - making a splash doesn't just happen. This is something that the longevity science community isn't good at yet, sad to say: it must be added to the list of critical areas to work on.


In reading the statement by Ray Kurzweil I thought it would be interesting to note how Ray's prediction of strong AI/the Singularity are:
a - just long enough out on the horizon (20 yrs) to not be taken as too unlikely
b - always within his own personal lifetime (he is 60ish).

I have read Ray's books and I have a lot of respect for the man, but he is egotistical. Once he put his mind to writing or talking about the Singularity it was a foregone conclusion that he would state the Singularity would arrive before he would likely die of natural causes.

I can't say if he is right with his predictions or not, but I would say his conclusions are more based on hope and conjecture than anything else.

I agree with Reason - strong AI will be (hopefully) nice to have, but we should focus more on biologic approaches to life extension, e.g. SENS.

Posted by: Dan C at August 18th, 2010 9:17 AM

The "singularity" seems like kind of a distraction when it comes to the anti-aging initiative because it's so wrapped up with AI, "uploading", enhancements, and all that. Plus, the very name of it conveys a certain feeling of hopelessness, like some terrible thing is coming so why bother doing anything in the meantime.

I saw Kurzweil speak one time and his message on ending aging was just a few offhand remarks buried in a barrage of graphs and techno-babble. His problem is that he really believes that AIs are going to discover new physics and allow us to do crazy new things like settle the universe, which is probably a fantasy.

Aubrey is so much more reasonable in his views. I just wish he was rich like Kurzweil.

Posted by: William Nelson at August 18th, 2010 9:44 AM

The singularity is an interesting hypothesis, but that's all it is. If it does happen (which it may not) it could take centuries, or could happen in such a form that it doesn't help us much. (not all problems are necessarily helped by faster computing power) Regardless, we can't really do anything to speed it up, so we might as well just focus on more helping realistic anti-aging efforts like SENS. Btw, this post did remind me of this cartoon I recently saw:


Posted by: Kim at December 17th, 2010 5:40 PM

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