I started today with a stroll through Central Park and a coffee on Madison Avenue. Things just got better from there on really…
The Singularity Summit 2009 opened in the small but perfectly formed Kaufman Concert Hall, 92nd Street, New York, NY. I say it was small because fitting 800+ Singularitarians in there was a bit of a squeeze, especially during the coffee breaks when everyone left the main lecture hall!
After an introduction by Michael Vassar, we had a talk by Anna Salamon about the intelligence explosion, and Anders Sandberg gave a nice introduction to whole brain emulation. Randal Koene talked about why we should get our asses in gear with the whole brain emulation stuff because there are plenty of reasons why humans could become extinct without much warning. Itamar Arel explained that we already have all the pieces we need for AGI to be realised.
Ben Goertzel talked about OpenCog and AGI, Stuart Hameroff gave a very rapid dash through many different aspects of his quantum consciousness theory, Michael Nielsen gave a talk about quantum computing – (it was cool to meet Mike of Mike&Ike fame :)) and Ned Seeman talked about the awesomeness of DNA.
Lunch was an interesting combination of samosas, coffee, carrot sticks and potato chips. I also purchased an SIAI t-shirt which I subsequently discovered is way too big for me, but it was the smallest size they had!
After lunch and associated networking we had a talk from Jurgen Schmidhuber (which was as entertaining as it was enlightening) about human creativity, self-referential Godel machines and a mathematical foundation of creativity. Stephen Wolfram then had a kind of ‘discussion session’ rather than a presentation, which mainly focused on mining the universe of computational possibilities for interesting programs. David Chalmers talked about AI, AI+ and AI++, simulated evolution and a ‘leakproof’ simulated world, and Gary Drescher talked us through Newcome’s paradox and the prisoner’s dilemna. Ed Boyden gave a fascinating talk on synthetic neurobiology including fibre-optic control of neurons, and Marcus Hutter talked about combining the ideas of Ockham, Bayes, Turing and Epicurus to form the mathematical foundations of AGI. William Dickens gave a talk about whether or not IQ tests really measure intelligence, and finally Ray Kurzweil talked about the law of accelerating returns and gave some comments on the preceding talks.
The coolest thing about the summit is that the people in the room are most probably the very same people that will drive the singularity to actually happen. I personally find it quite moving to be in a room with 800 or so people that share the same philosophy and ideals as myself.
We finished off the day with drinks and interesting conversation amongst some of the SENS people, and Aubrey de Grey.
Looking forward to tomorrow’s schedule – this is much more exciting than Physics conferencing 😉