Giulio Prisco: “I am a Singularitian who does not believe in the Singularity”

See Guilio Prisco’s general response to my and Jamais’ recent writings here. Here is an excerpt:

As I say above I think politics is important, and I agree with Jamais Cascio: it is important to talk about he truly important issues surrounding the possibility of a Singularity: political power, social responsibility, and the role of human agency. Too bad Jamais describes his forthcoming talk in New York as counter-programming for the Singularity Summit, happening that same weekend, with the alternative title If I Can’t Dance, I Don’t Want to be Part of Your Singularity. This is very similar to the title of the article If I Can’t Dance, I Don’t Want to Be Part of Your Revolution!. by Athena Andreadis, a very mistaken bioluddite apology of our current Human1.0 condition against unPC Singularitian imagination. This article is one of many recent articles dedicated to bashing Singularitians, Ray Kurzweil and transhumanist imagination in name of the dullest left-feminist-flavored political correctness. I think I will skip Jamais’ talk (too bad, …

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Response to Jamais Cascio on “The Singularity and Society”

In Fast Company, Jamais Cascio writes:

Despite the presence of the Singularity concept within various (largely online) sub-cultures, it remains on the edges of common discussion. That’s hardly a surprise; the Singularity concept doesn’t sit well with most people’s visions of what tomorrow will hold (it’s the classic “the future is weirder than I expect” scenario). Moreover, many of the loudest voices discussing the topic do so in a manner that’s uncomfortably messianic. Assertions of certainty, claims of inevitability, and the dismissal of the notion that humankind has any choice in the matter–all for something that cannot be proven, and is built upon a nest of assumption–do tend to drive away people who might otherwise find the idea intriguing.

I find many of the above claims to be false or at least not easily justified.

First, everything is built upon a web of assumption, and nothing can be proven absolutely. I’m sort of tired of hearing this line of argument as a generalized response to things. Everything is probabilistic, nothing is absolute, and one person’s “assumption” …

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Ray Kurzweil in The Independent

Another Kurzweil article, this time in The Independent. It’s titled “By 2040 you will be able to upload your brain…” Make what you will out of it. SIAI is mentioned, so that’s good.

Just so reporters know (I’ve been getting a few questions lately), the Singularity Institute was formed by AI researcher Eliezer Yudkowsky and Internet entrepreneurs Brian and Sabine Atkins in 2000, not by Ray Kurzweil. Ray is a Director of the Singularity Institute who has done a lot to inform the world about the promise and peril of the Singularity.

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NYT: Quest for a Long Life Gains Scientific Respect

Thank you for covering this, Nicholas W! Opener:

BOSTON — Who would have thought it? The quest for eternal life, or at least prolonged youthfulness, has now migrated from the outer fringes of alternative medicine to the halls of Harvard Medical School.

Bwa ha ha ha ha ha! They thought we were mad! We’ll show them who’s mad!

They forgot to mention the most important stepping stone between alternative medicine and Harvard Medical School — Aubrey de Grey and his supporters. Without him, this never would have happened so soon.

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Stephen Wolfram Will Attend Singularity Summit 2009

Stephen Wolfram, the British polymath known as the creator of Mathematica and Wolfram Alpha and the author of A New Kind of Science, will be attending the Singularity Summit 2009 next weekend. Here is his bio. He will engage in a “Conversation on the Singularity” with Gregory Benford, at 3 PM on Saturday, just before David Chalmers’ talk.

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10th Woodstock Film Festival Focusing on Transhumanism

From The New York Times:

The 10th Woodstock Film Festival will focus on the future and Transhumanism, a movement that would build a bridge from technology to the human condition.

Here is the full article. Ray and Martine will be on a panel. Here’s the segment about it:

A highlight will be a panel discussion, “Redesigning Humanity — The New Frontier,” featuring scientists and ethicists. One panelist, Raymond Kurzweil, is an author and trailblazer in the field of artificial intelligence; another, Martine Rothblatt, began the first satellite radio company and is active in bioethics, gender freedom and antiracism causes.

Congrats to Ray and Martine. I hear the movie they’ve been working on, The Singularity is Near, will be out soon — maybe it will premiere there? Don’t quote me on that, I am just speculating.

Lots of articles on transhumanist topics have been coming out in the NYT lately. What the Times needs is a good overview article on transhumanism, its position on (bio)political issues, and some of its major figures. That would help …

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Thiel Foundation Website Online

Check out the website for the brand-new Thiel Foundation:

The spotlight effort right now is the Oslo Freedom Forum, which looks interesting. Here’s a quote from the 33-year old founder, Thor Halvorssen:

“We all should want freedom of speech, freedom of association, freedom from torture, freedom to travel, due process and freedom to keep what belongs to you.” Unfortunately, he explains, “the human-rights establishment at the United Nations is limited to pretty words because so many member countries kill or imprison or torture their opponents.”

Ambient pressure like this can help encourage the UN to better advance human rights.

The projects of the Thiel Foundation can be broken down into 3 general areas — anti-violence, freedom, and science and technology. Anti-violence projects include Imitatio and the Oslo Freedom Forum. Freedom projects include the Committee to Protect Journalists, The Human Rights Foundation, and the Seasteading Institute. The science and technology projects include funding Cynthia Kenyon (who studies the biology of aging), Aubrey de Grey (SENS Foundation), and the Singularity Institute for Artificial Intelligence. Looks …

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h+ Magazine Hits Newsstands Tomorrow!

From the WTA-talk list:

Hi Fellow Transhumanists,

I just wanted to let you know that the Fall issue of h+ Magazine is appearing on newsstands now. Its official release date is the 28th, but I was just at a Barnes & Noble in Palisades, NY and Paramus, NJ and they had it out already! All 720 Barnes & Noble stores, as well as many Borders, Books-A-Million and about 550 college bookstores will carry it.

It’s crucial that the few copies which each store is carrying sells out so that they agree to carry this permanently. Please buy one if you can, and Tweet your friends to buy them in obscure locations too!

Thanks so much for helping us spread the word and carrying the h+ meme into homes and dorms around the country! If we do well in the U.S., we should be able to get a foreign distributor to carry us in Europe too.

Best regards, James Clement Publisher, h+ Magazine

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10 Reasons

My “10 Reasons” document from August 2004 is getting some great play on StumbleUpon and other venues. 5,000 visits so far this month. Check out my “10 Reasons to Develop Safe Artificial Intelligence”:

1. Because human cultures aren’t exotic enough. 2. Because intelligence should be fluid, not rigid. 3. Because we need someone to help us organize the data we’re drowning in. 4. Because aliens aren’t showing up, we should make our own. 5. Because a virtual world would be a cool place to grow up in. 6. Because we need new perspectives and thinkers. 7. Because it would be interesting to engineer new emotions. 8. Because sci-fi stereotypes need to be shattered. 9. Because humans are often biased away from the common good. 10. Because AI is coming whether we like it or not, so it might as well be safe.

Ironic that Jamais Cascio has accused Singularitarians like myself as not being interested in culture. It’s not a matter of dancing, it’s a matter of survival. If we do not program the first recursively …

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