Kevin: I’ve been volunteering for the Singularity Institute these last few months. Each year, the Singularity Institute hosts the Singularity Summit, a two-day conference in San Francisco this August that may be of interest to many of the readers of this blog.
Will it ever become possible to boost human intelligence using brain implants, or create an artificial intelligence smarter than Einstein? In a 1993 paper presented to NASA, science fiction author and mathematician Vernor Vinge called such a hypothetical event a “Singularity“, saying “From the human point of view this change will be a throwing away of all the previous rules, perhaps in the blink of an eye”. Vinge pointed out that intelligence enhancement could lead to “closing the loop” between intelligence and technology, creating a positive feedback effect.
This August 14-15, hundreds of AI researchers, robotics experts, philosophers, entrepreneurs, scientists, and interested laypeople will converge in San Francisco to address the Singularity and related issues at the only conference on the topic, the Singularity Summit. Experts in fields including animal intelligence, artificial intelligence, brain-computer interfacing, tissue regeneration, medical ethics, computational neurobiology, augmented reality, and more will share their latest research and explore its implications for the future of humanity.
“This year, the conference shifts to a focus on neuroscience, bioscience, cognitive enhancement, and other explorations of what Vernor Vinge called ‘intelligence amplification’ (IA) — the other route to the Singularity,” said Michael Vassar, president of the Singularity Institute, which is hosting the event.
Irene Pepperberg, author of “Alex & Me,” who has pushed the frontier of animal intelligence with her research on African Gray Parrots, will explore the ethical and practical implications of non-human intelligence enhancement and of the creation of new intelligent life less powerful than ourselves. Futurist-inventor Ray Kurzweil will discuss reverse-engineering the brain and his forthcoming book, How the Mind Works and How to Build One. Allan Synder, Director, Centre for the Mind at the University of Sydney, will explore the use of transcranial magnetic stimulation for the enhancement of narrow cognitive abilities. Joe Tsien will talk about the smarter rats and mice that he created by tuning the molecular substrate of the brain’s learning mechanism. Steve Mann, “the world’s first cyborg,” will demonstrate his latest geek-chic inventions: wearable computers now used by almost 100,000 people.
Other speakers will include magician-skeptic and MacArthur Genius Award winner James Randi; Gregory Stock (Redesigning Humans), former Director of the Program on Medicine, Technology, and Society at UCLA’s School of Public Health; Terry Sejnowski, Professor and Laboratory Head, Salk Institute Computational Neurobiology Laboratory, who believes we are just ten years away from being able to upload ourselves; Ellen Heber-Katz, Professor, Molecular and Cellular Oncogenesis Program at The Wistar Institute, who is investigating the molecular basis of wound regeneration in mutant mice, which can regenerate limbs, hearts, and spinal cords; Anita Goel, MD, physicist, and CEO of nanotechnology company Nanobiosym; and David Hanson, Founder & CEO, Hanson Robotics, who is creating the world’s most realistic humanoid robots.
You can watch videos from past summits and register at www.singularitysummit.com.