Past Meetup

Singularity Saturday, with Jaan Tallinn and Robin Hanson

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Birkbeck College

Torrington Square WC1E 7HX · London

How to find us

Lecture Room B33, which is on the basement level

Location image of event venue


Singularity Saturday, with Jaan Tallinn and Robin Hanson

In this extended (3 hour) session, Robin Hanson ( and Jaan Tallinn ( will revisit and expand the material from their ground-breaking presentations from the Singularity Summit 2012 ( - presentations that Vernor Vinge (, commenting shortly afterwards, described as refutations of the saying that "there is nothing new under the sun".

2.00pm: Em Econ 101: An Economic Analysis of Brain Emulation - Robin Hanson

3.25pm: Short break

3.35pm: The Technological Singularity: Why now? - Jaan Tallinn

5.00pm: Close of meeting

About the first talk:

An Economic Analysis of Brain Emulation

Em Econ 101

The two most disruptive transitions in human history were the introduction of farming and industry. If another similar transition lies ahead, a good guess for its source is artificial intelligence in the form of whole brain emulations, or “ems,” sometime in the next hundred years.

After a review of the forthcoming feasibility of whole brain emulation, this talk applies standard social science to this unusual situation, to identify a relatively-likely reference scenario set modestly far into a post-em-transition world. It considers families, reproduction, life plans, daily activities, inequality, work training, property rights, firm management, industrial organization, urban agglomeration, security, and governance.

About Robin Hanson:

Robin Hanson ( is an associate professor of economics at George Mason University, a research associate at the Future of Humanity Institute of Oxford University, and chief scientist at Consensus Point (

After receiving his Ph.D. in social science from the California Institute of Technology in 1997, Robin was a Robert Wood Johnson Foundation health policy scholar at the University of California at Berkeley. In 1984, Robin received a masters in physics and a masters in the philosophy of science from the University of Chicago, and afterward spent nine years researching artificial intelligence, Bayesian statistics, and hypertext publishing at Lockheed, NASA, and independently. Robin has over 70 publications to his name.

Robin has pioneered prediction markets, also known as information markets or idea futures, since 1988. He was the first to write in detail about people creating and subsidizing markets in order to gain better estimates on those topics. Robin was a principal architect of the first internal corporate markets, at Xanadu in 1990, of the first web markets, the Foresight Exchange since 1994, and of DARPA's Policy Analysis Market, from 2001 to 2003. Robin has developed new technologies for conditional, combinatorial, and intermediated trading, and has studied insider trading, manipulation, and other foul play. Robin has written and spoken widely on the application of idea futures to business and policy, being mentioned in over one hundered press articles on the subject, and advising many ventures, including GuessNow, Newsfutures, Particle Financial, Prophet Street, Trilogy Advisors, XPree, YooNew, and undisclosable defense research projects. He is now chief scientist at Consensus Point.

Robin has diverse research interests, with papers on spatial product competition, health incentive contracts, group insurance, product bans, evolutionary psychology and bioethics of health care, voter information incentives, incentives to fake expertize, Bayesian classification, agreeing to disagree, self-deception in disagreement, probability elicitation, wiretaps, image reconstruction, the history of science prizes, reversible computation, the origin of life, the survival of humanity, very long term economic growth, growth given machine intelligence, and interstellar colonization.

About the second talk:

The Technological Singularity: Why now?

Why Now? A quest in metaphysics

The word "singularity" usually denotes something exceptional, a situation that breaks a given model. It therefore seems like an incredible coincidence that we were born just decades before an imminent technological singularity that threatens to break our model of the evolution of the entire universe.

But what if that incredible coincidence is merely an illusion? What if our model is not correct to begin with?

This talk combines the ideas of intelligence explosion (, the multiverse (, the anthropic principle (, and the simulation argument (, into an alternative model of the universe - a model where, from the perspective of a human observer, technological singularity ( is the norm, not the exception.

There will also be a chance to ask Jaan questions about his views on the importance of the Singularity Institute (, on the concept of the CL3 generation (, and the Cambridge Project for Existential Risk (

About Jaan Tallin:

Jaan Tallinn ( is one of the programmers behind the Kazaa ( file sharing platform, and a founding engineer of Skype ( He is also a partner in a seed-stage venture firm Ambient Sound Investments (, co-founder and chairman of Panacea Research ( – a startup intent on revolutionising healthcare, and a co-founder of the Cambridge Centre for the Study of Existential Risk ( He describes himself as singularitarian/hacker/investor/physicist (in that order).

Jaan graduated from the University of Tartu in 1996 with a BS in Theoretical Physics with a thesis that involved travelling interstellar distances using warps in space-time.

In recent years Jaan has taken an interest in the ethical and safety aspects of artificial intelligence, thus traveling the world and talking to different experts, from philosophers to researchers to actual AI programmers.


2pm-5pm, Saturday 15th December

Venue: Room B33, Birkbeck College (, Torrington Square WC1E 7HX, London.

Room B33 is on the basement level 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.
But please consider making a small donation towards the costs of running the group:
- see How You Can Help London Futurists (

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.