ASIM-2010 – not quite Singularity but close :)

So I’ll post something about the Singularity Summit soon, but first I just wanted to talk a little about the ASIM-2010 conference that I helped organise along with Randal Koene.

The main idea of the conference was to hold a satellite workshop to the Singularity Summit, with the purpose of sparking discussion around the topics of Substrate Independent Minds. See the carboncopies website for more information on that! Ah, I love the format of blogging. I’m explaining what happened at a workshop without having introduced the idea of what the workshop was trying to achieve or what our new organisation actually *is*. Well, I promise that I’ll get round to explaining it soon, but until then it will have to be a shadowy unknown. The carboncopies website is also in the process of being filled with content, so I apologise if it is a little skeletal at the moment!

One interesting thing that we tried to do with the workshop was to combine a real life and a virtual space component. It was an interesting experience trying to bring together VR and IRL. In a way it was very fitting for a workshop based around the idea of substrate independent minds. Here we were somewhat along the way to substrate independent speakers! I am hoping that this will inspire more people to run workshops in this way, which will force the technology to improve.

I was very pleased too see so many people turning out. We had about 30 people in meatspace and about another 15 in virtual space on both days. Giulio Prisco has some nice write-up material about the workshops, including PICTURES and VIDEOS! Here are the links to his posts:

General overview
First day in detail
Second day in detail

For a first attempt, I don’t think that things went too badly! The technology wasn’t perfect, but we gave it a good try. The main problem was with the audio. Teleplace, the conferencing software we were using, works well when everyone in online with a headset and mic, there are no feedback problems. However, when you try and include an entire room as one attendee, it becomes a little more tricky.

This could be improved by either everyone in the room having headsets and mics, and then having a mixer which incorporated all the input into a single Teleplace attendee. The other way is that everyone in the room could also be logged into Teleplace with their own headsets and mics. *Make* that Singularity happen, ooh yeah! (/sarcasm)

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4 thoughts on “ASIM-2010 – not quite Singularity but close :)

  1. Or perhaps the best solution is the one we used: asking IRL participants to go to the microphone to speak (or using fixed microphones with push2talk, or circulating cordless microphones).

    These are the solutions used for IRL conferences in large conference halls, and they eprmit having the signal without the back chatter noise.

    • physicsandcake says:

      The ‘speaker to the mic’ rule is very difficult to enforce. The problem was that the participants weren’t expecting this format. They were attending an open discussion, and each person having to come up to the microphone really interrupted the flow of the debate. Even when we tried to enforce the rule, there were still people chirping up with little comments in the audience.

      I think the only way to do this properly is to have either headsets for everyone or a professional room-mic system, and then just have people in Teleplace as observers rather than active participants (they can still be active amongst themselves through the text chat).

      We did try the cordless mic, but there were problems. I never did work out whether it was a problem with the radio mic itself, or with Teleplace. So we had to fall back to Plan B (which was actually Plan C by that point as our secondary mic had failed too!).

      Conclusion: To do this properly is possible but you need a budget to hire a good sound crew/equipment and more than a couple of people managing the event 🙂

  2. A workshop with 20-30 persons in a small room may well be the most difficult application case for mixed-reality, because as you say participants expect to talk freely, interrupt others etc. In a larger conference, say 100+ persons in a larger hall, participants expect to have to raise their hand, wait for the floor and a microphone, introduce themselves etc. A more structured approach which lends itself better to the mixed-reality formula.

    This will be the case at TransVision 2010 in October, where we will try to apply all the lessons learned at ASIM 2010.

    Even with the problems mentioned, to me (and I was using a very bad 3G phone internet connection in the countryside with a very weak signal) and to other Teleplace participants, the ASIM 2010 experience was quite good. This is mainly due to your effort yo smooth the interface between IRL and remore participants.

    Which shows that technology by itself does not solve problems — people do, using technology as instrument. Future substrate-independent minds will be people _and_ technology merged, and I am confident they will be better than us at problem solving.

  3. […] of the most active participants in the ASIM 2010 Conference, and she has a nice writeup on “ASIM-2010 – not quite Singularity but close “. The picture is a nice reality cascade appropriate to the spooky image of quantum […]

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