London Futurists Message Board Books/Media For Futurists › Awesome software/synthetic biology talk from the singularity university

Awesome software/synthetic biology talk from the singularity university

David W.
dw2cco
Group Organizer
London, GB
Post #: 26
>it seems that anyone else's guesses about the future are just as poor as my own

You're saying that it's futile to make predictions about the future.

So let me ask you: do you think it is more probable than not that the sun will rise tomorrow?

Are you suggesting, to go back to trends in semiconductors, that you really have no idea whether the sizes of hard disks will continue to get larger (without corresponding increase in prices) over the next (say) three years?

To ask a similar question about the field of medicine: does your professed ignorance really lead you to conclude that you have no idea whether new medical treatments will emerge, over the next ten years, that can make a better job of alleviating the diseases of old age?

If I may say, the fundamental flaw in your approach is that you say, there can't be an exact law, therefore there can't even be a pragmatically useful law. I accept the premise of that argument (there's no exact timescale for knowing when specific advances in semiconductors, engineering, medicine, etc, will take place) but utterly reject the conclusion.

The change in public mindset that I'm seeking to accelerate, is NOT that we should realise that such-and-such a disruptive technology breakthrough (whether in nanotech, biotech, AGI, etc) WILL happen at a given date in the future. Rather, it is to recognise that these disruptive technology breakthroughs MIGHT happen in the not-to-distant future, and therefore we should consider the implications ahead of time (while we still have a chance to influence the outcome).

This is the "scenarios" approach to predicting the future, rather than any "absolutist" one.

>The more intelligent way to look at this is to ask what other predictions has Gordon Moore made

Nonsense. The intelligent way to evaluate the likely continuation of Moore's Law (or let's call it "Moore's Trend" if that language would make you more comfortable) is to look at the analysis made by semiconductor and other industry experts. Intel spokespeople (including Moore himself) usually state that they can see reasons why the trend is likely to continue for at least another 10 years, but they are less sure about the longer term.

For example, Intel’s CTO and Corporate VP Justin Rattner gave a presentation in October 2008 about “Countdown to Singularity: accelerating the pace of technological innovation at Intel”. He described a series of technological breakthroughs that would be likely to keep Moore’s Law operational until at least 2020, and he listed ideas for how it could be extended even beyond that. Yet you still seem to think he's guilty of an elementary error in his statistical reasoning. Please tell us, what statistical test (with how many degrees of freedom, and with what level of significance) are you using, to reach such an arrogant and ostrich-headed conclusion?
Jonathan
Im-not-a-number
London, GB
Post #: 38
You're saying that it's futile to make predictions about the future.

It's possible to predict the sun will rise tomorrow, because it's been doing it for millions of years, but there still exists a very very very minute possibility that it won't - so we can't apply 100% certainty. Although, in practical terms, it makes sense to accept bets from anyone claiming it won't, since if it doesn't then your punter won't be collecting.

Moving further into the future, we can make a pretty decent stab at what the weather will be like over the next few days, and even that our employers will give us money at the end of the month. Although, how often is the weather forecast wrong?, and how many people believed that they were likely to continue receiving cheques in exchange for their labours, until the recent financial chaos hit us?

As regards semiconductors, we already have technology to create large hard disks, so it's highly unlikely that we would lose that information, and since hard disk manufacturers are making efforts to create larger hard disks, it seems likely that some of them would have some success - BUT you cannot discount the possibility that hard drive technologies could stagnate for many years into the future, or hit buffers such that the rate of technological advance slows to a crawl. The inverse argument goes for medicine, where scientists have been trying hard to extend the natural human life span... very little has happened for many years - and this situation might continue long into the future - but equally, the rate of change may accelerate or the problem could eventually be deemed impossible to solve.

As to a “law”, all we can say is that as we predict further and further into the future, the probability of being correct decreases exponentially. i.e. predictions about tomorrow have a good chance of being true, next week a bit less so, next month a lot less, next year pretty dicey, ten years+ down the line - who knows...

Regarding the mindset you say you are trying to accelerate (I have no clue about your goals regarding this), I would argue that my gut feeling is the changes you refer to probably won't be as disruptive as you suspect, but helping the public understand more about science and technology has to be a noble cause, and certainly one worth supporting.

The intelligent way to evaluate the likely continuation of Moore's Law (or let's call it "Moore's Trend" if that language would make you more comfortable) is to look at the analysis made by semiconductor and other industry experts.

You mean famous speculation such as:
"Nobody will ever need more than 640k RAM" - Bill Gates
or
"I think there is a world market for maybe five computers" - Thomas Watson, Chairman of IBM
or
"There is no reason anyone would want a computer in their home" - Ken Olsen, Founder of DEC
or
"Computers in the future may weigh no more than 1.5 tons" - Popular Mechanics, Magazine

Anyway, from the Intel pressroom:
Moore is widely known for "Moore's Law," in which in 1965 he predicted that the number of components the industry would be able to place on a computer chip would double every year. In 1975, he updated his prediction to once every two years.

So, now you say he's revising his ideas yet again; therefore any prediction based on Moore's past interpretation of his "law" will also have to be revised to take account of his latest thinking. Thus, by definition, any prior speculation based on Moore's last version of his "law" will be rendered void.
Thus creating more and more errors based on delusion based on illusion based on supposition based on somebody thought it would be nice IF...

Of course, Mr Rattner is expected to get Intel developing newer technologies (else the stockholders will boot him off the board and stop paying him), so did you really expect him to bring bad news to a group of people interested in the future?

Just like all of life, there are differences between theory and practise, the question is to whether Intel (or some other organization) can deliver or not - no statistics involved this time – just a request that people stop trying to look bright by guessing when someone else will make an achievement, and put that effort into bringing on the future as soon as possible.
David W.
dw2cco
Group Organizer
London, GB
Post #: 27
>request that people stop trying to look bright by guessing when someone else will make an achievement, and put that effort into bringing on the future as soon as possible

The two activities of (1) envisioning future scenarios, (2) putting effort into achieving these scenarios, aren't completely separated. Desirable future scenarios often require multiple changes to happen, before they can be achieved. People are more likely to put effort into making some of these changes, if they see the possibility that other associated changes are likely to happen in parallel.

In this way, various forecasts of possible futures can help to make these futures more likely. This is sometimes called a "self-fulfilling prophecy".

I remain worried by the general hostility you show towards people who make forecasts of possible technological futures. I see your hostility as being unjustified, for two reasons:

a.) As I've just mentioned, making forecasts is often PART of creating a better future. Prognostication and engineering go hand-in-hand. You seem to think they are opposed

b.) You also seem to think that people make forecasts in order to "look bright" when their forecasts come true. Well, that may be the case for some forecasters. But all the people that I know who are involved with the Singularity University have a different motivation - to change the world (for the better), rather than just to "look bright".

By the way, the quote you attribute to Bill Gates is an old chestnut. Gates has repeatedly asked people to provide a reliable source for this quote, but no one has managed. Again I say: we should not judge a prediction that is divorced from its context and underlying analysis. When you or I hear someone from (eg) the Singularity University making a forecast about possible breakthroughs in technology, we should reserve our judgement until we've had time to listen to the explanation that is given for that forecast. It is these explanations that make up some of the Singularity University course material (and they are also published in many places online).
A former member
Post #: 334
Man, I wish I wasn't so busy at work - you guys are having the sort of conversation I love!

OK my two cents -

1st thing to be made clear - I am assuming that Jonathons Comments are referring to to the so called "singularity" Science. I find i agree with what you are saying - Singularity Science IS NOT scientific law it is purely a idea from certain technologists in particular Ray Kurzweil and Vernor Vinge. At the moment it isn't really considered a Scientific Theory as it is completely untestable which is one of the reasons why you cannot get a Degree in Singularity Science. Correct me If i am wrong but do you need qualifications to go to SingU or do you just need to be able to write a cheque that doesnt bounce?

2nd Thing - Moores Law is cracking it has held up so far but as has been said before it cannot continue forever as there is a limit to how small a transistor can be due to quantum fuzzyness as you get to the atomic level. To base other adavnces as being like moores law isn't good science. A lot of technologies have not followed the same paths and some if anything have slowed to a standstill. For example Rocketry which is reltivly unchanged from the 1940's and there are lots of technologies like steam technology that we are no longer really interested in and have not moved at all!

3. So far my opinion is that the Singularity/Transhumanism is actually the dream of technologists (Rapture of the Nerds) who do seem to be making a new kind of religion/belief system based around certian predictions from favoured prophets (Futurists). Whether intentional or not their is a kind of irrattional belief that soon technology will move so fast that all our problems like death, old age, sickness and sufferring will be thing of the past. Others are more dark in thier predictions and say we may be at war with super intelligent machines or enhanced humans and may well be facing extinction. HEAVEN AND HELL!!!

4. It seems (to me) that the people at SingU and similar organisations all have financial/business interests in those ideas. One of the reasons i think they are so evangelical about it is that they must be - If those technologies/ideas are going to save/kill us - then everybody should know about it. Or is it because they want money to keep playing with thier technological toys and need to legitimise the crazier ideas through peusudoscience? I'm not really qualified to say but it seems that a pragmatic approach is better than one based on patting each other on the back. My only real bone of contention is that it seems to be (the singularity) exculsive to those that can afford it and it does not really adress real world problems like world hunger. Its all very well Kurzweil and others having the cash/technology to upload to silicon heaven but what about stavin marvin in ethopia??


All that being said I do think that we are living in very interesting times and some of the ideas of transhumanism are very appealing. But the reality is think that we will probably still be worrying about the same stupid primate stuff in 2035, 5035 and maybe even 20,535AD. I don't really think that machines will ever be in the same leuge as humans and will always remain tools no matter how intelligent they are.

Now reading that back I am suprised at how cynical I am! - I really hope that I havent hurt anyone feelings here as I know that transhumanists are pretty cool people and even consider myself a reluctant one! But if I look at all the different stuff this is the conclusions I have come too - Please bear in mind that I am in no way qualified in science (Im a true Layman) these are just what I have learnt through this group and the Extrabritannia meetings over the past year.

Richies Singularity Watch - my predictions for 2010 (To bring some humour back)

AI - still miles away from something that can make good techno music best i have heard is a cockroach intelligence playing a virtual maraca - big whoop!
NanoTechnology - Persil Automatic makes whites even whiter and Wilson tennis raquets are even stronger thanks to carbon nanotubes. (this may have already happenned)
Biotech - Penis Extentions that actually work and someone will start bioprinting wigs of artificail human hair.
Aging - The goverment Raise the retirement age to 75
Brain Scanning - Anders Sandberg successfully scans the area of the brain which contain the "MOJO" and publishes his findings.



Keep talking guys - i will join in when im not too tired from work my brain doesnt work anymore.... (probaly new year)
A former member
Post #: 4
Just worth noting, Steam technology has actually been advanced, a few years ago I remember reading about a nano sized steam engine that could be used for nano power:

http://www.nanowerk.c...­
A former member
Post #: 335
Nice work simon - OK I will take back steam Technology though i was a bit dissapointed not to see a nano- sized train and fat controller!

Heres a list of other non-accelerating/very slow moving technologies:

Cars - the cumbustion engine is relativly unchanged in 100 years
Cooking - my kitchen hasn't had anything new since the microwave...
Farming - GENERALLY unchanged for 100's of years (to the average farmer anyway)
Landline Telephones - still not much different to victorian times - VioP is a internet technology in my humble opinion
Building - Apart from some modern new materials and labour saving machines - builings are still made in the same old way as they always were brick by brick...
Boats and fishing - still no real changes - harbours apart from flashy comms tech are still the same as they were 250 years ago.
Commercial Aviation - standard design is unchanged for many years again its all comms equipment that has brought the main changes, what happenned to concorde and hypersonic passenger flights??
Bicycle - again apart from new materials bikes are the same as they were 100 years ago
Ceramics/Pottery/glass making - still doing that the way we have for 1000's of years

I could go on but their are many many technologies which we use everyday which are not racing along towards a singularity. One of the things I have observed is that people that work in the Technology Sector have a very different perspective on whats going on to people who work in shall we say more traditional trades (like myself).
I had a taste of working in technology at the turn of the miellium, I worked at BT, AOL and for several IT companys as a B2B salesman for a couple of years. When I was doing that I felt like I was 100 years ahead of most people as I was privy to a lot of technological developments which most people were blissfully unaware of.
We were selling 2 meg lease lines, Internet Caching, Digitalising the NHS, buying old mobile phones to resell in africa, Video Streaming, application service providers, online backup and other internet solutions between 1999-2001. A lot of these things are now in domestic use and are common knowledge to I imagine all of us - but at the time it felt like very edgy stuff as most people didnt even really have a e-mail adress!

Point i am trying to make really badly is that when i left that feild of work and went back to catering i realised that the world wasn't going all High Tech as it seemed when I was working in technology companys. In fact it felt like I went back 100 years and even now in 2009 a lot of firms i deal with in my work don't have Internet and don't need it to thrive. I think (and I hazard a guess that Jay would agree with me) that a lot of people tend to live in a bubble and what they do for work/play influences how they see the world. If you work in high tech you tend to see the world as a very high tech place which seems to be changing very very quickly. If you have a more traditional lifestyle apart from the mobile phone and a little internet things havent really changed at all.

Now I am not saying that we shouldn't be enthusiastic about the Future and what it may bring - hell its why i started this group! But what I am saying is that it is easy to be caught up in a "Bubble" and think that everything is going to change very quickly and everybody will be involved. However bubbles do burst and what we think will happen may not be what happens at all mainly because the rest of the world doesn;t think that way.



Extra Note - I was talking to this cool old Fella (he was about 80) at the bar the other night about the future (in particular space elevators biggrin) and he said something quite funny and profound.

"we will still be putting our trousers on one leg at a time my boy"


David W.
dw2cco
Group Organizer
London, GB
Post #: 28
Hi Richie,

There's many points I'd like to make in reply to your comments, but perhaps the best way forwards would be if I prepared a few ideas and came to one of your Tuesday evening get-togethers in Kentish Town Road, and spoke on the theme "Predicting the future of technology - identifying the trends and breakthroughs that matter the most".

If this is of interest, I can produce a few more sentences to describe what I have in mind.
Jonathan
Im-not-a-number
London, GB
Post #: 39
the quote you attribute to Bill Gates is an old chestnut.

It's lucky I didn't pick the supposed Bill Gates quote that if General Motors had kept pace with Microsoft, then we'd all be driving $25 cars that did 1,000 miles to the gallon...

But, regardless, I think I've adequately argued that there seems to be a human tendency to incorrectly prognosticate - especially when we recall medical and technological problems, such as Thomas Malthus predicting that the world would run out of food in the 1800s, and all the panic over the Millennium bug - each of which became hyperbolic distributions, rather than the initially predicted exponential outcomes.

Possibly the best examples come from epidemiology, and recent outbreaks such as Salmonella in eggs / BSE / Avian Flu / Pig plague / etc. In each case, at the time of the outbreak, predictions were for millions of people to become seriously ill or die, and indeed in the early stages, lots of people did become ill or died, so plotted on a graph, this may initially appear to be the start of an exponential curve. But, later, it turns out that some people have immunity, people start recovering from being ill and don't die, people develop immunity, quarantines are set up and the outbreak contained, followed by research into vaccines and medicines; the gross result being that new infections and new deaths quickly slow and are eventually curtailed, until they start to decline, thus forming the previously mentioned hyperbolic curved graph, as regression to the mean kicks in.

That said, an academy studying futuristic topics (cutting edge medical research / intelligence advancement / space migration / etc.) could be a good thing. After all, I'm told it's possible to study accredited degrees in Golf course management, and Aromatherapy; I believe Isaac Bonewits managed to graduate in Magic & Thaumaturgy, and I've also heard it's possible to study Equestrian Psychology. None of which are falsifiable, but presumably offer benefits to those who have made the efforts to study or research these subjects - then from the point of view of the learner - it doesn't matter whether the knowledge that they are learning is known at the time or yet to be discovered.

However, since SU isn't accredited, it would seem that it has very little respect from other institutes, and nobody could point me to any changes for the betterment of society that SU has instigated, nor any peer reviewed papers, breakthroughs or minor achievements - therefore SU cannot be taken seriously - and thus, the prophecies, I would posit, are merely vehicles for third rate academics to steal credit from more intelligent and creative individuals.

In fact, looking at SU more critically, one can spend thousands of dollars learning a bit of high school science, and getting a warm fuzzy feeling of keeping Ray Kurzweil in supplements for another decade. Or, for not a great deal more money you could study at MIT and receive an accredited degree from an internationally respected technology college.

Even using "scenarios", and then applying the principle of parsimony, I suggest that because doubling the number of transistors etched on the silicon doesn't double the processing power of the chip, the hyperbolic "scenario" is much more likely than the exponential "scenario". Indeed, whilst the advances of technology over the past many decades (preceding Kurzweil and Moore by a long chalk) are impressive, so are advances in timekeeping, which have been progressing for a lot longer, without any supposed "laws", and which are helping better synchronize computer networks and improve deep space communication. There's also advances in clothing manufacture, whereby we can now afford to buy clothes for a few pounds that once would have cost perhaps a weeks wages, and which are manufactured from synthetic materials that our ancestors could never have imagined.

Applying a Kurzweil-like "scenario" to the developments in clothing manufacture, we would have predicted that everyone will be wearing fine silks / satin / mink / etc. But, instead we just have low-budget, low-quality shops like Primark, and a long history of clothing manufacturers becoming bankrupted as prices are battered down by the intense levels of competition in the garment manufacturing industry.

That said, the reluctance to consider any other outcome instead of the notion that - if we create enough artificial neurons, they'll somehow all spontaneously link up and become concious, thereby creating a really high IQ supercomputer that outsmarts us all - is unlikely in the extreme, and appears to my mind as advocacy, rather than any sort of scientific inquiry. Furthermore, even if we were to perfectly download the intelligence of say Chris Langan into some form of brain emulator, we would still only have the intelligence of Chris Langan in electronic form – nothing more, nothing less.

Now, the remarkable thing I've found is that Gordon Moore doesn't claim deity status, keeps doubting his supposed "law", and seems to have become a kind of reluctant prophet to Mr Kurzweil. So, this non-astronomical singularity merely relies upon the same circular logic that religious types, and the crackpots who claim to be able to "manifest" things depend so heavily on for their arguments.

As to predictions:
1) They're usually wrong, making the predictor look daft at best, or shifty and untrustworthy as in the case of fake psychics - back-peddling and trying to weasel their way out of a situation where they're plainly wrong.

2) People are generally motivated by incentives, so if we invent a 3 dimensional CPU core, we become rich and famous selling the research to Intel or Motorola. But, if we have an idea to design Kurzweil's prophesied by 2009 speech-to-text device for deaf people, it'll be more for altruistic reasons, rather than any other sort of reward. Therefore, if Mr Kurzweil is going to be jumping up and down shouting "Told you so... I predicted this" and stealing all our credit, then why should we even bother attempting to invent such a device? All our incentive has been removed.

3) As previously mentioned, the efforts expended by those trying to prognosticate what others will be achieving in future would be much better expended in developing those new ideas themselves, since this is how progress usually works - People say "I'm going to invent XYZ", then they go off and invent XYZ. The Kurzweil method of "Someone else will invent XYZ, now I'm going to sit back and wait", is just lazy.

Finally, unless someone can come up with evidence more solid than just Mr Kurzweil's over-extrapolation of Moore's "law", then on this occasion, I'm going to side with the equally publicity-loving Biologist P.Z. Meyers, who remarkably for a person with a web-log actually seems to have published a few interesting, original thoughts, and hates bad science and sloppy research with even more passion than me.

TFYQA
David W.
dw2cco
Group Organizer
London, GB
Post #: 29
Let's try to stay focused...

Just because some of Kurzweil's predictions have not happened in the way he expected - and just because some of his analysis can be questioned - it does NOT follow that:

1.) We can laugh (or disregard) the whole set of ideas about increasing AI capabilities
2.) We should stop thinking about the risks of rapidly improving AI capabilities.

I don't see anything magical in the brain which means that its processing cannot, in due course, be replicated by computers. I do see that computers have improved their capabilities immensely, over the last six decades, and I expect they will improve their capabilities immensely, over the next two or three decades. There will be improvements in both hardware and software.

These improvements are likely to be ACCELERATED because:
a.) Worldwide, there are more computer science graduates than ever before;
b.) Worldwide, more and more people have access to relatively cheap hardware that is nevertheless very powerful, and which will allow many people to experiment rapidly with new AI algorithms;
c.) The way the Internet functions means that breakthroughs in one area, in one part of the world, can quickly be leveraged in different fields in other parts of the world.

So there is at least a POSSIBILITY that there will be significant improvements in AI over the next few decades, with the prospect of the emergence of smarter-than-human AI. In turn, that brings about the prospect of the rapid emergence (via software improving itself, recursively) of MUCH-smarter-than-human AI. This prospect is both exhilirating (through the new solutions that this super AI could provide to age-old problems) and fearsome (on account of the risk that the super AI will regard humans as a kind of pest and menace).

You can take cheap potshots at Kurzweil all you like, and it might even make you feel good about yourself, but please don't delude people that we should stop thinking hard about the risks of super AI. Rather than having super AI springing up on us unexpectedly - when it's too late to do anything about it - we should have lots of smart people working NOW on anticipating and influencing this outcome.

fyi the next Extrobritannia meeting - probably on 16th January - is likely to cover this topic in a lot more depth.

TFYQA
A former member
Post #: 336
Cool Guys - But please don't take things so personally it is a Forum and it is quite hard to know what tone of voice they are being said in!

I don't think Jonathon is taking cheap potshots at Ray Kurzweil, I think he is making some points (even if a little cynically) about that validity of his predictions and if we should consider them scientific. I have to say that after reading a few of his books that they do seem more in the "self-help" and "motivational" bracket (like PUA or NLP) rather than pure science like for example - Brian Greenes - Elegant Universe

I think without a doubt that Ray Kurzweil is a very impressive person with a lot of idea's and his musical equipment is second to none (which is why they are used in all the best concert halls). But he has recieved a lot of critisism over the years from a lot of scientists and academics who do not think he really knows what he is talking about.

For example: Mitch Kapor, the founder of Lotus Development Corporation, has called the notion of a technological singularity "intelligent design for the IQ 140 people...This proposition that we're heading to this point at which everything is going to be just unimaginably different—it's fundamentally, in my view, driven by a religious impulse. And all of the frantic arm-waving can't obscure that fact for me."

Biologist P.Z. Myers has also criticized Kurzweil's predictions as being based on "New Age spiritualism" rather than science and says that Kurzweil does not understand basic biology. Myers also says that Kurzweil picks and chooses events that appear to demonstrate his claim of exponential technological increase leading up to a singularity, and ignores events that do not.

Quantum Computer Scientist Mark Gubrud says: What Kurzweil is proposing is that the human race will be extinct within 100 years, and he advocates this. In place of people, there will be computer simulations of people. In the end there may not even be these simulations, just computer processes as part of some super intelligence. And Kurzweil thinks this is cool, it's sexy, it's spiritual. He actively proselytizes for that end, for the extinction of the human race. He describes it in religious terms, as a sort of ascension to cyberheaven. I think that this is fundamentally wrong. It's a symptom of a deep disorder.

Ok pretty harsh un-neutral critisisms of Mr Kurzweil but as they do come from respected members of the scientific/technology community then you do have to take them on board. Rather than just requote more bits and peices about Ray Kurzweil who is a bit of a easy target in my opinion (come on guys he says he wants to ressurect his father!) so lets take a look at other prominent transhumanist/singularity enthusiasts and thinkers.

Aubrey De Grey - Founder of SENS and Author of "Ending Aging". The Scientific community is very skeptical of De Greys claims and a review of SENS concluded that none of his therapies work on any living organism let alone humans. He has a BA in computer Science from Cambridge and until 2006 was working on software development. While his engineering backround has no doubt brought something different to the world of biology he does not seem to have any real solid answers yet. I question whether De Grey actually knows what he is talking about either as he is not trained in the feild- also the whole Beer Drinking Galdalf Image thing what is that about exactly, i do sometimes wonder if De Grey likes to just play the media! biggrin However all that being said he does put his money where his mouth is: the SENS Challenge $20,000 is still "unclaimed" ( - http://www.technology...­ ) by De Greys standards more info in that link.

Hugo De Garis - This guy believes that it is our destiny to create superintelligent AI and they will be "Godlike" - he predicts "terminator" scerenios before the end of this century and wrote the book "the Artilect War" to publicise his ideas. However some people consider that he done his best work in the 90's (Cam Brain) and several of his recent projects have failed miserably and one company he was involved with was bankrupt. His prediction that AI/Brain Building would be a $Trillion industry in 20 years (Made in 1996) looks very unlikely now and in fairness some of this has been his own doing as he has been unable to make his dreams reality despite lots of funding and interest.

Vernor Vinge - Is arguably the man who first coined the term technological singularity (in 1982) and is a very well established science fiction author. His backround is Mathmatics (professor) and he is also a retired computer scientist so he is pretty well qualified to make theorys about technology. However in sources I have read he does not think he did anything except popularise Richard Feynmans and Eric Drexlers work on Nanotechnology.
He recently wrote this article/theory: http://www.kurzweilai...­ in which he describes 3 plausable scenarios for the singularity not happenning and then covers himself by saying: "I still regard the Singularity as the most likely non-catastrophic outcome for our near future."
Richard Hayes writes his reaction here: http://www.sfgate.com...­ and makes a few valid points about GRIN technologys as well.


Ok i gotta stop for now but i will add to this thread later with more of my thoughts about AI and with your permission (s) I think our next meeting should be some kind of transhumanist face off! - ONLY JOKING! - But maybe a open discussion about the validity of the Technological Singularity and its proponants would not be the worst Idea for a meeting if people don;t take things personally. I know for a fact that David has a lot staked in this and his willingness to discuss it openly with us/ set up meetings with prominent thinkers should be celebrated and not descend into tim leary acronyms! Keep it clean, Keep it Positive, Respect each others perspectives and you will find your answers!


Looking forward to the thing on the 16th - this group is now back to life after our christmas break and I will post some events up in the next day or so.


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