Liveblogging the Singularity Summit 2007 – Day One – afternoon


15.00 Jamais Cascio – The Metaverse (is being skipped?! or maybe speaking later?)
Actually looking through the Google Blogsearch links I myself provided in the previous post, I saw that Jamais has already posted the full text of his speech. I guess I will list just a few sentences here and there that strike me most. (if and when he speaks)

Marcos Guillen of Artificial Development is launching today its commercial and open source products, CCortex Spiking Neural Network Engine. AD wants to implement a complete simulation of a cortical system.

Now Jamais is going to speak. He is not using a PowerPoint presentation, which he says corrupt the mind. He is reading, quite well, the text of his speech. He is referring to the Metaverse Roadmap Overview that he authored a few months ago.
“Scenarios are not predictions, but provocations.”
“Code is inherently political.”
“It is important to democratize the Singularity”
“There will be surprising benefits from a messy open source collaboration for AGI”
“We can make the right choices. Survival is possible.”

15.50 Panel discussion
Stephen Omohundro
“Self improving AI is going to be extremely unpredictable. The previous version could itself not understand the one coming after it.
Describes Von Neumann’s theories of rational behavior.
“Programmers are devices for converting pizza into code” 🙂
“Self-improving systems are devices for converting resources into maximizing utility”
“The Four Drives: Efficiency – use recources better, Self-Preservation – keep resources, Acquisition – get more resources, Creativity – find new ways to create utility”

Peter Voss, Adaptive AI talks about “Increased Intelligence, Improved Human Life”
“AGI is almost certainly going to happen in less then ten years, and very likely in less then 5
Human level intelligence is the bottleneck for many problems that humanity faces
Through the benefits of AGI we will become more wealthy, more healthy and more moral”

Question from Brad Templeton: “Will personal AGIs will be objected to on the basis of them being slaves?” Answer is that the AGIs might not themselves object, but other humans will.

17.10 Neil Jacobstein of Teknowledge
“Many of the formerly narrow expert systems have acquired broad scope.
Myths about AI: if it works it isn’t AI; AI is all hype (but writing off AI is like writing off eCommerce after the meltdown of the end of the 90s); if it isn’t human+ level then it is not AI”
Shows statistics about IAAI – Innovative Applications for Artificial Intelligence.
Comment from a former DARPA Director: The DART scheduling application paid back all of DARPA’s 30 year investment in AI
An other application, CombineNet ASAP, has a documented cost savings of $1.8B.


17.34 Ben Goertzel of Novamente and the Singularity Institute has a new title for his speech which is “Nine years to AGI”, since a year ago he gave a speech which was entitled “Ten years to AGI”.
“Human babies are the stupidest things, but we have to start there.
The robotic approach is good, but you will loose all of your time with actuators, and servo motors. We settled on robots in virtual worlds.
Novamente is initiating an open source AGI called OpenCOG, and will present virtual pets at the Virtual Worlds Conference in San Jose in October.

18.00 Paul Saffo “Machines of Loving Grace: Anticipating Advanced AI”
“The press coverage of this conference is proof that the public is about to join the conversation.
But this is a moment of pessimism. The optimistic scenario is that when AGI arrives they will treat us as pets, and the pessimistic scenario is that they will treat us as food.”
He reads a poem “All Watched over by Machines of Loving Grace”
We need more poets, and more novelists covering this.

Questions to Ben, Neil, and Paul. Missed many of them, because I stood up making a question/observation which went more or less the following: “Paul, your observations, and the reading of that wonderful poem make it seem that we need to build a bridge between technologists, and humanists, which organizations like, and Third Culture are very well doing. I would posit that it is even more important to build a bridge of communication towards, between those of us who are proude of our knowledge, and those who starting from a faustian fear, and often in a position of power, are proud of their ignorance.”