The Singularity Summit 2012

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The premier event on cutting-edge technologies including robotics, regenerative medicine, artificial intelligence, brain-computer interfacing, and more.


Approaching the Singularity: Intelligence Amplification

Retired mathematics professor Vernor Vinge describes one pathway toward the technological singularity: by using computers as external brain supplements that allow humans to approach superhuman intelligence.

Can We Really Create a Superhuman Intelligence?

Luke Muehlhauser, Executive Director of the Singularity Institute, takes on skeptics who argue that superhuman artificial intelligence will forever remain beyond the capabilities of technology. "If you make these kinds of predictions about what machines can't do, you're going to end up on the wrong side of history," he says.

Carl Zimmer: Putting the Virus to Work

Popular science writer Carl Zimmer confirms that viruses will always surprise us, for better or worse: the key is to find innovative uses in science and medicine for viruses instead of trying to eradicate them.

Computers Teach Themselves to Recognize Cats, Faces

Peter Norvig, Director of Research at Google, demonstrates a computer system that has been programmed to organize collections of images from YouTube videos into sets of objects, without any direction from the programmers.

Daniel Kahneman: Issues with Predicting the Singularity

Noble Prize-winning psychologist Daniel Kahneman comments on the most important biases concerning the singularity. Kahneman sees the major bias as believing in seemingly inevitable scenarios.

High Class Robots? Hierarchy After the Singularity

Robert Hanson, Associate Professor of Economics at George Mason University, speculates on how systems of class might operate between artificially intelligent machines. Speed and efficiency would be most rewarded, in Hanson's view, while interaction skills with humans would be least valued.

Jaan Tallinn: Existing in Multiple Places at Once

Jaan Tallinn, creator of Skype and Kazaa, narrates a story that explores the notion of existing in multiple places simultaneously.

Machine Learning: Crossing the Barrier of Meaning

Melanie Mitchell, Professor of Computer Science at Portland State University, redefines "singularity" to mean "the appearance of a machine that crosses the barrier of meaning." Mitchell proposes to do this by teaching computers visual concepts that they can re-purpose as analogies.

Steven Pinker: Literacy Breeds Empathy, Reduces Violence

Harvard psychologist Steven Pinker links the Humanitarian Revolution, an historical decline in violence, to widespread literacy. "It's plausible," he explains, "that as people consume fiction, drama, history, and journalism, they start to inhabit the minds of people unlike themselves, which conceivably could expand their empathy and decrease their taste for cruelty."

Sometimes, the Most Obvious Is the Least Obvious

Author, professor, and autism advocate Temple Grandin uses the example of the 2012 Fukushima nuclear disaster to illustrate how sometimes, the most obvious flaws in a system can be the least apparent to those working in it.

Slave to Your DNA? Rationality Will Set You Free

Julia Galef, president and co-founder of the Center for Applied Rationality, describes humanity as slave to its own genes: that is, people exist solely to perpetuate their DNA. Furthermore, she argues, we have to contend with the fact that "the genes don't care about us."

Ray Kurzweil: AI Could Make a Healthier, Wealthier World

Author and futurist Ray Kurzweil examines the rise in health and wealth levels throughout the world since 1800, speculating that combining human intelligence with artificial intelligence will continue to perpetuate this trend.

Personal Genomics Will Not Lead to Gattaca

Linda Avey, co-founder of 23andMe and Curious, reassures those with concerns about abuse of genetic information that it is not possible to make designer babies like in Gattaca, but there are ways to avoid some genetic diseases.

Why We Can't Make Sound Predictions About AI

Stuart Armstrong of the Future of Humanity Institute places the quality of predictions about the emergence of artificial intelligence on a continuum with other fields, showing them to be the least accurate.

Thiel Fellow Laura Deming Sets Out to End Aging

Thiel Fellow Laura Deming makes a plea for health research to tackle an epidemic that affects everyone: the negative effects of aging.

The Potential of Usable Copies of Health Records

John Wilbanks, Fellow in Entrepreneurship at the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation, uses what he learned from a copy of his genotype as a proxy for the possibilities of how people might be able to learn about themselves with usable electronic health records.

About this conference

The Singularity Summit will draw over 800 thought leaders to San Francisco for discussions on the most revolutionary technological advancements on the horizon.

The annual conference was founded in 2006 by Ray Kurzweil, Peter Thiel, and the Singularity Institute as the first academic symposium for dialogue on the Technological Singularity. The "Singularity" is a term defined by Vernor Vinge meaning greater-than-human intelligence in computers or augmented humans.

Past speakers at Singularity Summit have included Doug Hofstadter (author of Godel, Escher, Bach), Peter Norvig (Google Director of Research), Sebastian Thrun (Stanford AI Lab Director), Rodney Brooks (MIT Professor of Robotics), Justin Rattner (CTO of Intel), and Stephen Wolfram (CEO and Founder of Wolfram Research).

About Singularity Institute

The Singularity Institute was founded in 2000 to discover safe architectures and goals for advanced artificial intelligences. Along the way, we’ve also engaged in much outreach and movement-building (for example through our Singularity Summit and the Less Wrong community).

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