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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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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, creator of Skype and Kazaa, narrates a story that explores the notion of existing in multiple places simultaneously.
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.
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."
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."
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.
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.
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 makes a plea for health research to tackle an epidemic that affects everyone: the negative effects of aging.
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.