Is a singularity near? with David Wood
A critical review of material presented at the Singularity Summit 2012
Because of popular interest in this meetup, the room has been changed. It is no longer 416 (on the fourth floor) but B36, on the basement level - this is a larger room.
About this talk:
Is human civilisation facing an imminent transition of unparalleled disruptive scale?
The idea of a "singularity" covers a range of possible transformations in civilisation, whose approach might be discerned from accelerating changes in technology or social organisation, but whose outcome cannot be foreseen.
A modern-day singularity could be similar to what happened in the agricultural and industrial revolutions, but potentially much swifter. After all, modern day technology is much more powerful and pervasive, and there are many hidden inter-dependencies within society.
Examples of a forthcoming singularity could include:
- a singularly unpleasant collapse of society due to shortages of energy or other resources, compounded by market failures that make the 1929 stock market collapse look like a picnic,
- the advent of super-intelligent artificial intelligence that follows its own internal logic with drastic consequences for the humans who inadvertently set that intelligence in motion
- an accelerated merging of biology with technology, creating people who are super-strong and super-smart, who gain a runaway advantage over unenhanced humans.
This talk will review recent thinking about a potential "technological singularity", as expressed in the Singularity Summit that is taking place in San Francisco the prior weekend. The talk will recap selected ideas presented at that summit by a host of luminary futurist speakers, and will assess the merits and consequences of these ideas from a critical standpoint.
About David Wood:
David Wood is the lead organiser of London Futurists, and has been organising public meetings in London on futurist, singularitarian, and transhumanist themes since March 2008.
David's professional background includes nearly 25 years immersed in cutting edge mobile technology – envisioning, architecting, implementing and avidly using smart mobile apps and mobile devices. He spent ten years as software architect with UK-based PDA pioneer Psion, followed by ten years serving as co-founder and Executive VP at smartphone OS specialist Symbian. As principal of Delta Wisdom, David works with leading companies who are concerned about the dramatic impact of rapidly changing technology on human individuals and communities, and provides advice on opportunities to apply technology in new solutions to deep-rooted problems.
In November 2005, David received an honorary Doctorate in Science (D.Sc.) from the University of Westminster, “in recognition of services to the smartphone industry”. In 2010 he featured in the world's first Augmented Reality CV: http://arcv.cwjobs.co.uk/augmented_reality_cv.
He tweets on technology and market trends as @dw2. His personal blog is http://dw2blog.com/, where he provides "eclectic thoughts on technologies, markets, innovation, openness, collaboration, disruption, risks, and solutions".
2pm-4pm, Saturday 20th October
Venue: Room 416, Birkbeck College, Torrington Square WC1E 7HX, London.
Room 416 is on the fourth floor in the main Birkbeck College building, in Torrington Square (which is a pedestrian-only square). Torrington Square is about 10 minutes walk from either Russell Square or Goodge St tube stations.
Coffee and other light refreshments can be purchased from the Costa Coffee shop in the reception area of the building, either ahead of or after the meeting.
The event will be followed by a chance to continue the discussion in a nearby pub - The Marlborough Arms, 36 Torrington Place, London WC1E 7HJ
The meeting is free to attend - no charge.
Optional pre-meeting rendezvous - please feel free to join a small number of regular London Futurist attendees at the Marlborough Arms any time from 12.30pm onwards, for general chat over a light lunch and/or drinks. To find us, look out for a table with a futurist book on it.
About "The Singularity Summit":
The Singularity Summit is the premier event on robotics, artificial intelligence, brain-computer interfacing, and other emerging technologies including genomics and regenerative medicine. The event this October 13-14 will draw over 800 thought leaders to San Francisco for discussions on the most revolutionary technological advancements on the horizon. This year’s speakers include cognitive scientist Steven Pinker, Nobel prize winner Daniel Kahneman, futurist Ray Kurzweil, autism advocate Temple Grandin, genomics pioneer Linda Avey, mathematician and sci-fi author Vernor Vinge, economist Robin Hanson, Google Director of Research Peter Norvig, and many others.
Key ideas from these speakers will be selectively summarised in the London Futurist meetup.
This talk replaces the talk "Scarcity resolved? with Guy Yeomans"which was originally scheduled for this date, but which has needed to be postponed to a later occasion.