Monday, October 5, 2009

Most Valuable Memes of The Singularity Summit '09

Pascal and I are in New York right now in order to, between other things, participate to the
Singularity Summit 2009 taking place at the 92nd Street Y, in the Upper East Side.
The summit lasted 2 days on October 3rd and 4th, during which scientists and entrepreneurs such as Ray Kurzweil, Peter Thiel, Aubrey de Grey or Stephen Wolfram explained how potentially humankind will have some profound evolutions and changes such as billion-fold-enhancement of the brain's capacity or the ability to live forever, thanks to Information Technology, Genomics, Nanotechnologies and Robotics.

Below is the list(there is no particular order) of the memes generated during these 2 days by the participants, that I thought were the most compelling ones.

I call them the MVM, the Most Valuable Memes:)

BunkerSofa, on the Singularity and its technologies.
"Oh I see... roughly 10% of the Singularity Summit audience believe that we will be able to build AI within 10 years."
"When you add a q-bit in a quantum computer, you double the power of your computer."
"We don't need to go down to atomic description to explain human intelligence."

Anna Salamon, about the risks brought by AI.
"An uncontrolled AI explosion will kill us like a nuclear bomb."
"A controlled intelligence could practically save us if we choose the right type of AI model."

Anders Sandberg, about scanning and emulating the brain.
"Once we have a whole brain emulation, I believe it would be useful to build an AI."
"The question about a whole brain emulation is: do we want to speed the scanning up or down, when we consider ethical and social issues."

Randal Koene, about the urgency of copying the mind and its consciousness.
"Death causes a lot of suffering and we must fix that now. The thing is we must replace the fragile substrate of the mind."
"Once we are able to back up the brain, then we are able to choose the physical environment and substrate of the brain. For example, we could chose to live in space without spacesuit if we want to."
"If we are able to copy all the information contained into a brain and transfer that to another substrate, then this copy will have its own set of consciousness and intelligence."
"If you do a copy of your original brain, and this copy is exactly the same as the original one, then there is no reason to consider the copy inferior than the original."

Itamar Arel, about how to build AI by imitating the hierarchical structure of the brain and the learning mechanism.
"We know that learning is a process that involves reward and reinforcement."
"The pieces of AGI (=Artificial General Intelligence) puzzle are already there, thanks to enabling VLSI."

Ben Goertzel, about the pathways to beneficial artificial general intelligence.
"I think that the Singularity is nearer than Ray Kurzweil predicts if we use straightforward engineering like the one of Itamar Arel."
"My approach for building an AGI is my theory of cognitive synergies: the brain is built on several cognitive and memory modules that interact. For example, the declarative memory registers Ethics and things like killing is bad."
"It is crucial to implement Ethics into the AGI."

Stuart Hameroff, about the neural substrates of consciousness.
"The brain wave associated with consciousness is the GAMMA wave."

Michael Nielsen, talking about quantum computing.
"What's got Quantum Mechanics do with Singularity?
Well, Quantum Mechanics operates at a completely different regime than classical physics. Quantum AI is a beast compared to simple AI."
"AIs may be the first ones to build/take advantage of Quantum Mechanics. We humans do not understand quantum mechanics."
"Quantum AI will provoke a second Singularity?"

Jurgen Schmidhuber, about the algorithmic principles behind Art and Creativity.
"You cannot build AI unless you understand Art, Creativity and Humor."
"Scientists and artists search for compressible data that is compressible in a new way."

Stephen Wolfram, about Cellular Automata and Singularity.
"I have been interested in a kind of natural science of computer programs."
"Why on earth Nature seems to find easy to make incredibly complicated things for the human mind?"
"The question is how can we make use of the computational universe to make useful things for humanity, technology wise?"

David Chalmers, about the need for a simulation and the Singularity.
"Natural Evolution will take too long to induce AI. We must simulate Evolution in a simulated world to reach AI."
"Self-improving intelligence is the fact that Evolution turns on Intelligence to create Intelligence+" 
"The key to a safe Singularity is to prevent Information pertaining to the human real world from leaking in the simulated world."
"While simulating AI or AI+ , if it's not benign, try again. If it's benign, integrate slowly in the human world."
"Consciousness is an organizational invariant. People with the same patterns of organizational invariants tend to have the same consciousness."
"If we use reconstructive uploading neuron by neuron, this will guarantee continuity of Consciousness. So there are good reasons to believe that Consciousness will be preserved during the Singularity."

Gary Drescher, on the notion of free will in a computational determined universe.
"You have a choice about things you cannot change and things you cannot cause.
So choice and determinism are compatible."

Ray Kurweil, on the ubiquity and predictability of the exponential growth of information technology.
"Quantum mechanics is mysterious, Consciousness is mysterious so there must be a link. That's what the proponents of Quantum Mechanics to model consciousness think naively."
"The question is: how to measure objectively subjective experiences like consciousness?"
"The issue with Wolfram theory of cellular automata is that you cannot predict where Earth will be in 100 years from now without iterating the algorithm."
"In 2029, the first computer will pass the Turing Test and $1000 of computation = 1000 times the human brain."

Michael Nielsen, on collaborative networks in scientific discoveries.
"The general architecture of a collaborative discovery is as the following: cut in lots of pieces a huge problem so that 1 person can contribute."
"Expert attention is the ultimate scarce resource."

Robin Hanson, on why Singularity is ignored by Academia.
"Academia side effect is to advance knowledge but the first function is to affiliate people to a bunch of scientific authorities considered brilliant."

Ray Kurzweil, speaking on the critics of the Singularity.
"Computers still can't do...(fill in the blank)"
"There are limits but they are not very limitative because we only need to find new paradigms"
"As soon as we build a working technique, we don't consider it intelligent any more because we now understand its underlying principle."
"When you take into account the high redundancy of the brain, the software of the mind can be written into 15Mb, in less than 1M lines of code."

Peter Thiel, on Macroeconomics and Singularity.
"I believe that the most catastrophic scenario for the Singularity is it takes too long to happen."
"Credit is lending money on the assumption that you will give me back more in the future. So it necessarily needs progress in the future." 
"In Economy, there is a problem when people expect growth but this growth does not happen. So the only way for financial leverage to work is through real technological innovation."

Aubrey De Grey, on Singularity and Aging.
"Singularity is the point of technological escape velocity for the humankind to transcend evolution. Let me define Methuserality as the point of LEV = Longevity Escape Velocity." 


  1. その通りです。現在翻訳中です。。。

  2. やっと日本語訳が出来上がりましたよ。

  3. the videos that correspond to the sessions have been uploaded: