Abstract – Nanotech and Femtotech, there’s lots of room at the bottom – Hugo de Garis

Prof. Dr. Hugo de Garis
Abstract – Nanotech and Femtotech

Everyone has heard of nanotech. Nano means a billionth. Nanotech is short for nanometer scale technology, i.e. molecular scale engineering, or mechanical chemistry, where molecular sized robots could pick up a single atom and put it anywhere to build molecular machines, e.g. nanosized computers that could be programmed to detect viruses or cancer cells and kill them, hence ridding humanity of disease, or to repair aging cells, hence creating immortality. Progress is being made monthly in nanotech. This leads to the question, “what’s next?” Nature provides no substance at the picometer scale, so the next step must be femtotech (i.e. femtometer scale technology). A femtometer is a million times smaller than a nanometer, i.e. the scale of quarks and nuclei. I am now researching the possibility of using elementary particle physics, nuclear physics, topological quantum field theory, etc to try to find phenomena in physics that might serve as the basis for a femtotech, which if successful would outperform nanotech by a factor or a trillion trillion. Artilects (artificial intellects, i.e. massively intelligent machines) based on femtotech would be truly godlike, making the notion of a universe designing and building deity much more scientifically respectable.

See my article “Fermitech : Searching for Phenomena in Physics That May Serve as Bases for a Femtometer Scale Technology”


Abstract – “Topological Quantum Computing” – Much more than Moore’s Law – Hugo de Garis

Prof. Dr. Hugo de Garis

Abstract -Topological Quantum Computing (TQC)

Quantum computers are 2expN times more powerful than classical computers (where N is the number of (qu)bits in the quantum register.) Once they become scalable and robust, our century’s science and technology will never be the same, because quantum computers will be able to simulate nature, which is quantum based. Today’s quantum computers, have N = 8 or so, which is useless. The biggest problem is the enormous fragility of the qubits. For example, if you store a bit of information on the spin of an electron, then the slightest interaction of that electron with a local particle or field will disturb it and destroy the information. Topological quantum computing introduces a new idea by suggesting that qubits can be stored using topological states of matter, which is a hot research topic in “condensed matter physics” nowadays. There is a phenomenon called the “fractional quantum Hall effect”, which is explained theoretically using topological quantum fields which allow information to be stored topologically, and hence robustly, allowing quantum computers to scale up. A race is on to find so called “anyons” which have these properties. Anyon chips have been proposed that would compute quantum mechanically using anyons. Nobel Prizes would then be won.

The teaching of TQC in computer science departments will mean that CS will become much more math and physics based, revolutionizing the subject, e.g. see my article “Topological Quantum Computing ” The “TQC Shock Wave”, and Its Impact on University Computer Science Teaching”


Abstract – What makes a good AI project? – Binh Nguyen

There are many AI projects going on all over the world. Which ones should we pay attention to? It depends on what we’re looking for. In my case, I’m looking for AI projects that have the potential for open-ended adaptation, as well as human-like behaviour and knowledge.

I believe that the world should not have to be the way that it is and that we have to do better. I envision a world where robots can do the jobs that people should not have to do, that are ready to provide a helping hand, and that are able to work in areas we often dare not even consider.

In this regard, I look for AI projects that have non-narrow, evolutionary and human-like embodiment characteristics. I will discuss these characteristics and how they relate to well known projects such as Blue Brain, China Brain, OpenCog, Cyc, and NELL, as well as my own work.

Abstract – Rationalism, Transhumanism and the Technological Singularity – Meredith Doig

At first reading, these concepts sound far-fetched and somewhat ‘out of this world’.  But as rationalists, we have an obligation to keep an open mind to new ideas and to evaluate them on their merits.  Are these ideas just wacky or are they the extrapolation of a particular line of scientific research?  And if the latter, what moral implications are there?
The Rationalist Society is in favour of science and evidence, as opposed to superstition and bigotry. When Transhumanism hits the general public, what sort of moral support and moral opposition might be encountered?  If it looks as though the Singularity is really about to happen, what sort of public mood is likely to be encountered?

This discussion will raise issues of rational evaluation of Transhumanism and the Technological Singularity, and the implications for those in the H+ and Singularity ‘communities of interest’ if these ideas really hit the public consciousness.

Abstract – “LOGICS” – By Colin Kline

A link to the paper can be found here.

This presentation aims to be a super-condensed summarial survey of :
Boolean Logic, Fuzzy Logic, Probability Logic, Pascalian Logic, Deduction, Induction, Hypothesis selection.

It will be assumed most of the audience will have undertaken secondary schooling to at least Y12 level, and that some may have had tertiary schooling, including a little of: psychology, science, maths, physics, statistics. Or instead, be well read citizens.

In any of these cases, the audience will at least know the word, “Logic”, and hopefully have met Boolean Logic (using Yes / No, True / False), together with varieties of the 3part Syllogism, and those contradictions that are to be avoided.

But how many of this audience knows that there exist many other kinds of logic, each of them with their respective merits, each of them applicable (or not applicable) in various kinds of situations ?

Colin Kline’s Bio

Abstract – Technology and social control – Greg Adamson

Is technology inherently centralising, invariably increasing the ability of a minority to dominate the majority? By the mid-20th century this had become its dominant characteristic. Since then, and particularly with the rise of the Internet, things have become more complicated. This presentation will consider the historical tendency to centralisation, and discuss countervailing tendencies today.

Abstract – Doing It Now – Sean McMullen

There are a few issues specific to writing science fiction about transhumanism that need to be clarified before we start. Firstly, we authors are as concerned with entertainment as we are with predicting the future. Next, if you create a good enough scenario, people will want to build your scenario in the real world (Neuromancer), or make sure that they do not build it (1984). Most importantly, while researchers, engineers and activists will point out the benefits or pitfalls of a new technology, the science fiction author generally shows you how it feels to live with that technology.

The themes in science fiction parallel those in real-world science. There are examples of making people more like machines (bionics, cyber-augmentation), making machines more like people (AI, robotics), putting people into machines (virtual environments, human-machine chimeras), and sculpting people to be greatly improved upon the original design (genetic engineering, cyber-avatars). This leads to speculation about whether machines will become autonomous and dominate the future, humans will enhance themselves to maintain their dominance, or some sort of alliance will eventuate.

We already have some evidence that serious change is not far off, and it is actually lack of evidence. Several decades of searching for radio signatures of extra-terrestrial civilizations has yielded nothing at all. The implication is that civilizations such as ours move to a very different suite of values, technologies, needs and practices just two or three centuries after industrialization. There would be a brief blip of radio noise from their planet, followed by silence. What does silence mean? Have they merely gone to optical fiber technology, or have they become beings that do not require our sort of communication? I incline to the latter theory, and this means that we shall go seriously transhuman well before the millennium is over.

That is the distant future. Back on Earth, we already have am extensive artificial environment that already allows us to live in an early trans-human condition. We in this room have access to mobility, communications, medical care, information and influence that even a head of state could not have commanded just a century ago. Feeding ourselves takes us only a small fraction of the day, clothing ourselves takes even less, and many of us commute daily over distances that were once for most people the journey of a lifetime. Getting old was something we did in our thirties, now one can create offence by saying that people in their sixties are old. We are no longer the humans we used to be.

How far and fast can this process go? While many people are still subsistence farmers, they often have a cheap mobile phone or at least communal internet. The rest of us show serious distress if deprived of our phone, internet, laptop and credit card for even 24 hours, and would be starving within a week if our supply economy failed. Put another way, humanity has different degrees of early transhumanism at the moment. Machines with a degree of self-awareness are less than a decade away, and bionic human-computer interface will not be far behind, and prototype immortality is already with us. Currently one can live on after death with Facebook and other web environments, and while these expressions of self are not yet self-aware, they can convince other people, and so are the first tentative step toward immortality.

In short, you can choose to be quite transhuman at this very moment, but you are probably too worried about looking uncool to really let yourself go. I could even write a novel about it, but it would no longer be science fiction.


By Sean McMullen

Abstract – More Human Than Human: The Computation of Moral Reasoning – Lev Lafayette

The application of propositional and predicate calculus in mathematical systems is very well known. The truth-functional application has been fundamental to the computational systems with widespread application in the sciences and engineering. Further, a computational theory of mind which suggests that computation equates to consciousness has become a common argument in cognitive psychology and in evolutionary psychology.
Criticism of the theory’s inability to provide a sufficient proof of intentionality become testable with the relative capacity (and inability in the realm of artificial intelligence) for the formation of new shared symbolic values. Retracing this issue through the motivational differences between descriptive and normative statements provides both an understanding of the supposed problem of consciousness, but also a grounding for moral values, which can be further elaborated into universal pragmatics through rational reconstruction. Such a grounding provides no less than the prospect of a propositional and predicate calculus of a universal moral theory, ‘more human than human’, a transhumanism which may be misunderstood as inhuman compared to the developmental limitations within the species. In addition this ontologically independent moral realism will also retain problematic elements of propositional and predicate calculus, along with serious issues concerning incommensurability between the different systems of verification.

By Lev Lafayette

Abstract – Open Source Biotech – Jeremy Nagel

William Donovan will be co-presenting the open source biotech talk with Jeremy Nagel.
Everyone knows you need millions of dollars and a PhD to do biotechnology research. Right? Well someone forgot to tell the high school kids taking part in the iGEM (international genetically engineered machine) contest. Hundreds of teams of young people from all around the world are now taking part in the open source biotechnology revolution. They have designed and built biosensors, which turn red when there are toxic amounts of mercury in soil; ‘hole pluggers’, which sniff out and fill in gaps in concrete structures; and even living computer screens.

How is this possible? Two reasons: technology and freedom of information. Rapid progress in technologies like DNA sequencing and synthesis have dramatically lowered the cost and complexity of creating genetically modified organisms. It’s easier than ever before and keeps getting easier. On the information side, science is opening up. Disciplinary silos are breaking apart as molecular biologists, engineers and coders join forces in a new wave of innovation. Instead of hoarding away knowledge and rushing to the patent office at the mere whiff of a discovery, people are giving away their intellectual property for free to the community. The open source software movement has been translated into open source biotech. Sites like partsregistry.org allow anyone to get their hands on the DNA code to design a new life form.

The implications are big. Some economists predict that 50% of future economic growth will come from biotechnology. The low barriers to entry mean that developing nations can join in too.

However, despite the excitement there are some concerns to address. Should we be allowing people to set up garage laboratories? Are there safety risks? Could bio-terrorists use these tools to create a ‘super-anthrax’? Are there ethical issues? Should humans be designing life?

During this session, you will enter an Open Source Biotech simulation, where you build your own lifeform. You will use a rapid prototyping approach and work in teams to design a microbe that solves one of humanity’s pressing problems (or just does something really cool!). The most creative team will win a special Open Source Biotech prize. We will then use the lifeforms you create to discuss the potential benefits and pitfalls of Open Source Biotech.

Join the discussion at the H+ Summit, where Melbourne’s leading experts will share their experience and their vision for the future.