Audio Interview with Singularity Weblog: “Singularity Without Compromise”

Yesterday I spoke to Nikola Danaylov at the Singularity Weblog. The title of the podcast comes from a quote I made during the interview, when Nikola asked me whether or not he thought we would need to sacrifice aspects of our humanity to go through a Technological Singularity. My response was that if we do the Singularity right, we need not compromise in any fashion: human beings from techno-enthusiasts to the Amish will be enthusiastic with the results.

During the podcast, Nikola asked me what I thought humanity’s chance of surviving the Singularity would be, and I said that my current estimate was around 25%, but that could change depending on what happens, and how much effort is put towards a positive Singularity.

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Singularity Hub Posts About the Summit 2010

Singularity Hub, one of the best websites on the Internet for tech news (along with Next Big Future and KurzweilAI news) has posted a reminder on the upcoming Singularity Summit in San Francisco, and a promise that they will provide excellent coverage.

Register before July 1st, before the price goes up another $100! We also have a special block of discounted rooms at the Hyatt available — $130/night instead of the usual $200.

Sorry the Summit is $485 and will be $585 and then $685. We fly all the speakers out and cover all their expenses, there are twenty speakers, do the math. Profits from the Summit go to the Singularity Institute for our year-round operations and Visiting Fellows program, which provides us with a community of writers, speakers, and researchers to continue our Singularity effort until it is successful.

If you want to organize a cheaper annual event related to the Singularity, feel free to do so. We hold a workshop after the event for academics, so we get …

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Nadrian Seeman Shares $1M Nanotech Prize

Congratulations to Ned Seeman, who is sharing the $1 million Kavli Prize in nanoscience with IBM’s Don Eigler, who was behind the team that made the IBM logo in atoms. Seeman was awarded the prize for the discovery of structural DNA nanotechnology, in 1979 according to the Kavli website. Seeman has given presentations on DNA nanotechnology at the Foresight Institute conferences and at last year’s Singularity Summit, and recently made a major breakthrough in nanotechnology with a nanoscale assembly line.

I had the opportunity to meet Dr. Seeman at a Center for Responsible Nanotechnology conference in Tuscon in 2007. He was skeptical about the idea of achieving molecular manufacturing within the next couple decades.

Will macroscale molecular manufacturing be achieved by a structural DNA route, the “Tattoo Needle” architecture, the foldamer route, the Waldo route, the diamondoid route, or something else? That is the question all the cool kids are asking.

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Patrick Lin in London Times: “The Reality of Robocops”

Patrick Lin is spreading the valuable message of roboethics:

They have everything the modern policeman could need – apart from a code of ethics. Without that, a Pentagon adviser fears, the world could be entering an era where automotons pose a serious threat to humanity.

The robots need to be hack-proof to prevent perpetrators from turning them into criminals, and a code of ethical conduct must be agreed while the technology is nascent.

The article mentions that there are currently over 7 million robots in operation, about half of them cleaning floors.

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More Singularity Curmudgeonry from John Horgan

John Horgan goes on the offensive against the Singularity concept on his relatively new blog at SciAm.

My own skepticism is based on simple comparisons of Kurzweil’s claims with what is actually happening in science. For example, Kurzweil contends that reverse-engineering the brain isn’t that big a deal. “The brain is at least 100 million times simpler than it appears because the design is in the genome,” he wrote on the blog Posthumans. “The compressed genome is only about 50 million bytes,” which is “a level of complexity we can handle.”

I agree with John that this estimate of the difficulty of AI is an oversimplification. It carries the assumption that AI will be a copy of the human brain, which isn’t necessarily true. It also ignores the complexity of the process of neurogenesis and continued development. The real brain is much, much more complex than the portion of the genome that codes for it, and it probably won’t be until after the Singularity until we understand the details of how the brain is created from the genetic …

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NYT Blog: Waxing Philosophical on Watson and Artificial Intelligence

There’s more follow-up material on AI from The New York Times. Here’s the blurb:

What is artificial intelligence? What issues are raised by the current work on creating machine minds? Here are some philosophical questions and creative activities stemming from the ongoing developments in the pursuit of conscious computers and inspired by the Times Magazine article on I.B.M.’s Watson, a machine that can play “Jeopardy!”.

Fun with AI and philosophy!

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The World the Singularity Creates Could Destroy All Value

From the letters to the editor section of The New York Times

Sizing Up the Singularity

To the Editor:

Re: “Merely Human? So Yesterday” (June 13), which described the Singularity movement and how it envisions a world of mind merging with machine, to conquer disease and even old age:

But if the movement succeeds beyond its wildest dreams, the world it would create could destroy all that we are that is of true value: our suffering and thus our joy, against which we determine the value of everything else.

Achilles, as depicted in the movie “Troy,” put it well: “I’ll tell you a secret. Something they don’t teach you in your temple. The Gods envy us. They envy us because we’re mortal, because any moment might be our last. Everything is more beautiful because we’re doomed. You will never be lovelier than you are now. We will never be here again.”

Let us never stop striving for us, but let us do it as us so that we still have reason for striving.

Ryan Andrews

Columbia, Mo., June …

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A Few Items

There’s an ongoing uploading debate in the comments with Aleksei Riikonen, Mark Gubrud, Giulio Prisco, myself, and others. The topic of uploading is the gift that keeps on giving — the dead horse that can sustain an unlimited beating.

There is a new open letter on brain preservationsign the petition! Also, there will be workshops on uploading after the Singularity Summit 2010 this August in San Francisco. A big congrats to Randal Koene, Ken Hayworth, Suzanne Gildert, Anders Sandberg, and everyone else taking the initiative to move forward on this.

One last thing: ghost hunting equipment. Harness the power of ghosts, take over the world.

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Assorted Links 6/16/10

Patrick Millard’s ongoing coverage of Biosphere 2 Anders Sandberg: Seeing the World Indiana Law Interfering With Citizens’ Free Speech Rights Found Unconstitutional RepRap blog: Open Source Scanning Tunneling Microscope Category: Mendel Development at RepRap Wiki Open Source Ecology Jim Von Ehr says Zyvex will Achieve Digital Matter from Building Blocks by 2015 and Rudimentary Molecular Manufacturing by 2020 Whole Brain Emulation: the Logical Endpoint of Neuroinformatics Protein Computing, Bio-based Quantum Computing and Nano-sized biolasers from ExQor Technologies Eurekalert: Eating processed meats, but not unprocessed red meats, may raise risk of heart disease and diabetes ‘Fountain of youth’ steroids could protect against heart disease Want to Get Smarter, Faster? Sleep 10 Hours: NPR 6-story Jesus statue in Ohio struck by lightning eWeek: Who’s Afraid of the Singularity? TIME — Tastes Like Chicken: the Quest for Fake Meat ABC Science: Cyborg rights “need debating now” YouTube: iRobot 710 …

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Reducing Long-Term Catastrophic Artificial Intelligence Risk

Check out this new essay from the Singularity Institute: “Reducing long-term catastrophic AI risk”. Here’s the intro:

In 1965, the eminent statistician I. J. Good proposed that artificial intelligence beyond some threshold level would snowball, creating a cascade of self-improvements: AIs would be smart enough to make themselves smarter, and, having made themselves smarter, would spot still further opportunities for improvement, leaving human abilities far behind. Good called this process an “intelligence explosion,” while later authors have used the terms “technological singularity” or simply “the Singularity”.

The Singularity Institute aims to reduce the risk of a catastrophe, should such an event eventually occur. Our activities include research, education, and conferences. In this document, we provide a whirlwind introduction to the case for taking AI risks seriously, and suggest some strategies to reduce those risks.

Pay attention and do something now, or be eliminated by human-indifferent AGI later. Why is human-indifferent AGI plausible or even likely within the next few decades? Because 1) what we consider “normal” or “common sense” morality is actually extremely complex, …

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