Risk, Responsibility, Robots—Singularity Summit In New York


singularity Summit Logo

The Singularity Summit comes to the East Coast this weekend in the Big Apple. The event will feature presentations and conversations with Singulatarian luminaries such as Ray Kurzweil, Stephen Wolfram, Aubrey de Grey, Gregory Benford, Stuart Hameroff, Peter Thiel, Eliezer Yudkowsky, and many, many others. What is the Singularity? By one defintion, the Singularity is usually meant as "a future time when societal, scientific and economic change is so fast we cannot even imagine what will happen from our present perspective."

Come on and watch this collection of happy futurists and transhumanists try to peer beyond the event horizon of history. I will be covering the Summit and will report back to Reason readers next week.

For more information about the Summit go here.

NEXT: Embalming the Watchmen

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  1. From the linkthrough:

    Stephen Wolfram to Speak at 2009 Summit

    I expect he will answer for his shitty “computational knowledge engine”.

    1. Yes, because every new groundbreaking innovation must work absolutely perfectly from the get-go.

      1. every new groundbreaking innovation must work absolutely perfectly from the get-go

        < sarcasm >Yes, and that is exactly what I claimed.< /sarcasm >

        W/A is shitty.

  2. I would make a smartass remark where I strike out “Rapture” and replace it with “Singularity”, but the new comments system doesn’t allow me to. Coincidence?

    1. Swell, because none of us has ever heard the “Rapture of the Nerds” line.

      The rapture is a religious phenomenon, unsupported by anything remotely approaching the status of real evidence. While the singularity can still be argued against (and a lot depends on exactly which definition you use), it nevertheless does have real trends that point to it. Whether those trends are exponential or S-curves is also debatable, but at least we’re dealing with real phenomena here.

  3. Strike has been working since this morning.

  4. Testing blockquote

    1. <nakedwomanridinghippo>Testing naked woman riding hippo</nakedwomanridinghippo>

  5. singularity is dumb, because it assumes that growth progresses exponentially in all fields forever. This is what got economists in trouble.

    Bacterial growth curves, for example, INITALLY look exponential, but eventually start to look like an ERF curve (which also looks exponential in the first phase) and then start to go into bell-curve domain.

    Why should we be any different? A plot of “discovery of fundamental particles vs. time”, “discovery of elements vs. time”, etc. will show that it looks quite a bit like an erf curve, and not exponential at all.

    1. No, it doesn’t assume that, nor is that “what got economists in trouble”.

      1. oh excuse me, it’s what got the political managers of the economy in trouble. A 2% targeted inflation rate in perpetuity means that your dollar by fiat loses half of its value every 30-odd years. Is it any surprise that the incentive to save disappeared, we have an overconsumptive society, and when credit got maxed out to sustain overconsumption, we had a deflationary collapse?

        1. What does this have to do with the assumption that “growth progresses exponentially in all fields forever”?

      2. and, yes it does assume that.

        In kurtzweil’s own words:


        1. I have to watch the whole talk?

          Kurzweil’s own words are in “The Singularity is Near”, and as I recall them, you aren’t summarizing them accurately. In brief, he doesn’t take “exponential growth” as a premise, but rather argues for it (in fact, double-exponential growth). Second, this argument does not deny the existence of erf curves (or more generally, S-curves), and in fact embraces them as descriptions of growth in specific cases (e.g. something like CD-ROM write speeds).

  6. No Vernor Vinge? Bogus.

    1. Yah, I just read “A Fire Upon the Deep” and he was my first thought.

    2. No kidding. I’m an hour from NYC and would’ve gone just to hear him.

  7. Does anyone who expounds about the singularity actually work in microfabrication or machine vision etc for a living?

    1. sometimes that doesn’t even help… I was a protein chemist and it was funny watching professors who had actually deluded themselves into thinking that computer circuitry would be self-assembled with the help of bionanotech.

    2. I used to be a polymer science major. That shit was insane!

    3. Ray Kurzweil was a pioneer in OCR, among other things. That doesn’t count?

      1. Not any more.

        I’m an engineer, and he is FULL OF SHIT. Completely full of it when it comes to this sci-fi, singularity shit.

        1. Thanks for the clarification.

  8. I am not sure what’s the point of getting together to talk about something, that, by its own definition, cannot be comprehended. It sounds like a dog trying to catch its own tail.

    1. Not really. Talking about a technological singularity is like talking about a cosmological singularity. In a black hole, the laws of physics break down at the point of the singularity. That does not mean you can’t describe the physical properties & behavior of a black hole.

  9. Don’t forget to take your 200+ multi-vitamins a day so that you can live long enough to live forever.

  10. More info for those who think the Singularity is just about accelerating change:


  11. ” Ask not what the Singularity can do for you. Ask rather what you can do for the Singularity.” — Mentifex aka Arthur T. Murray

    The Multiverse According to Benk

    What happened to “Preview”?

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