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 – 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 – “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 – The Plurality: why everything is all over the place – Tony Smith

Tony will show why no matter how accurately we know the rules of the behaviour of the components of a complex system we can still be surprised by some things the system as a whole does. While that sense of surprise may almost disappear with systems that we are long familiar with, the potential for surprise never completely goes away and increases greatly with new and unfamiliar systems. Though the behaviour of the whole does not cause any of the parts to break their own confirmed rules of behaviour, being part of a whole can cause the part to do things that could not be conceived given only total understanding of the part in isolation.

Chaos is formally defined as extreme sensitivity to initial conditions. Thus chaotic systems are found to rapidly explore the space of possibilities at least locally. But the space of possibilities grows incomparably faster than the number that can ever be tested at even slightly larger sizes. Things get more interesting when chaotic explorations find configurations which self-organise into a pattern that generates repeatable behaviour. Tony will demonstrate some of the most spectacular examples of emergent organisation he has discovered during his current extended study of new cellular automata rule families.

We will take a look at other examples of emergent organisation in the natural world, working up from the insights into solid state physics of Nobel Laureate Robert Laughlin to today’s much more rapid and fragile exploration of technological possibilities. This will draw on mathematical models described by theoretical biologist Stu Kaufmann to help understand how natural processes can so productively but still mindlessly create and exploit new opportunities, given sufficient time and space. We will conclude by looking at what this enhanced perspective can tell us about how to act locally now.

Abstract – Architecting the Future – by Slade Beard

“Architecture has recorded the great ideas of the human race. Not only every religious symbol but every human thought has its page in that vast book.”
Victor Hugo

The Human species faces some very significant challenges into the future. Many of these challenges are complex in nature and do not yield to simplistic methods of problem reduction and resolution.
We have two ways that we can respond to these challenges, we can simply take a myopic view of the forces that will impact our future and “let things happen” or we can set out to shape the outcomes we would like for the future state of our species. The history of our species has shown that whenever we set out to plan, we achieve extraordinary outcomes.
When JFK set his vision for the quest to place man on the moon, he set a bounded problem, and from what we knew we launched into what we needed to learn. Ultimately we achieved the vision that was expressed.
In similar fashion, the future should be guided by an evolving vision of who we are and who we aim to become as a species.
The discussion I would like to have is about ways of looking at complex problems, understand and expressing a vision or aspiration for the solution to those problems and then drawing on all the depth of skills and knowledge we have as a species to deliver that vision.
I am actually very positive about our future as a species. The rapid development of thinking in the management of complex problems is a great example of our ability as a species to find our way through the labyrinth of challenges that have arisen and will continue to arise for our species as we continue our journey beyond the boundaries of this planet.