First Singularity Salon a Success

Singularity SalonHad a generalised meeting entitled ‘Singularity Salon‘ on a few things futurist at Prudence bar in North Melbourne… A good turnout, had a round table discussion for about 5 hours and in the spirit of St Patrick made plenty of noise.
We spoke about a range of subjects including the Japan nuclear disaster, CEV (Coherent Extrapolated Volition), reflected equilibrium, what the metaphor of the Technological Singularity means (can’t see past the Event Horizon of a black hole) – a definition of what the Singularity is and what it isn’t:
– it isn’t the accelerating returns or technological development that may lead into a Singularity, it isn’t an infinite growth after a Singularity upwards ad infinitum, it isn’t referring to a black hole
– it is more like that IJ Good defined as an Intelligence Explosion, a closing of a feedback loop in which an intelligence intelligently and insightfully optimizes its own intelligence, lather rinse repeat…
We also spoke about a word made up on the spot: ‘enflourishment’, and what that word could mean. Actually found out later that the word really does exist.
Also spoke about the up and coming Humanity Plus summit in Melbourne (first one in Australasia), and the 2nd Singularity Summit AU (also in Melbourne).
Lastly we spoke on the dynamics and biases of conspiracy oriented thinking, floating ideas, some common behaviors associated with orgs like Ralien UFO cults. Also future less wrong meetings in Melbourne.

singularity salonThanks to all those who came along.
We are planning to have more Singularity Salons in the coming months.

Binh Nguyen

Binh NguyenBinh Nguyen is a PhD candidate at La Trobe University.

His focus is on evolving artificial intelligences with human like embodiments and environments. His work draws inspiration from artificial life, embodied artificial intelligence, evolutionary psychology, and human evolution. He believes that an artificial intelligence that can survive the physical and social challenges that humans face will be a step towards artificial general intelligence.

He is working on a simulation that exposes artificial intelligences to increasingly human like embodiments and environments. He is doing so by introducing the physical traits that differentiate humans from animals and that create pressures for complex social interactions. These traits include the human form, gender differences, and a slower growth rate compared to almost every other animal. In addition, he is increasing the environmental challenge by improving the level of physical realism, introducing predators, prey, and elements that reward exploring, learning, and cooperation.

He co-wrote with Dr. Andrew Skabar, “Evolutionary Intelligence, and Communication in Societies of Virtually Embodied Agents” in Artificial Life: Borrowing from Biology, 2009.

ABSTRACT – “Evolving Artificial Intelligences with Human Like Embodiments and Environments”

There are a number of breathtaking projects underway including the Blue Brain Project led by Dr. Henry Markram, the China Brain Project formerly led by Dr. Hugo De Garis, and the OpenCog Project led by Dr. Ben Goertzel. They are breathtaking in their vision and complexity.

This talk is instead about a relatively simple idea. What if instead of scanning and modelling biological neural networks with ever more detail, or building neural networks with a staggering number of neurons, or designing cognitive architectures with immense knowledge databases, we did something different? What if we instead evolve artificial intelligences by requiring them to learn to survive with increasingly human like bodies and environments?

Skilfully coping with the world requires a lifetime of experiences. It requires engaging in a form of life, interacting with the physical world and with others in the social world. Artificial intelligences are evolving behaviours that are ever more sophisticated. Behaviours include walking, hunting, evading, foraging, reproducing, cooperating, competing, using objects, and altering environments. Most interestingly, artificial intelligences are evolving natural language, one of the most powerful human abilities.

The talk will touch upon a few key ideas. Firstly, life is an incredibly persistent force given the chance, and persistence itself can compel artificial intelligences to act. Neural networks are capable of continual reconfiguration based simply on frequency of activation. Human beings are essentially the same as they were ten thousand years ago in Africa. Finally, computing power is developing at an exponential rate, allowing us to develop more and more realistic simulations.

This talk will look at evolving artificial intelligences to cope with human embodiments and environments. It will discuss the relevant techniques, technologies, challenges, and common criticisms.

Lev Lafayette

Lev Lafayette is a sociologist by profession, a systems administrator by vocation and a old-school gamer for recreation. He is a doctoral candidate at the Ashworth Centre for Social Theory at the the University of Melbourne with a thesis entitled “A Social Theory of the Internet”, as well as being an MBA (Technology) student at the Chifley Business School, and is an honours graduate from Murdoch University in Politics, Philosophy and Sociology.

He works at the Victorian Partnership for Advanced Computing (VPAC), a registered research agency specialising established by a consortium of universities. He has worked for the Parliament of Victoria as a database administrator and trainer, and for East Timor’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs as their ICT Advisor in their first year of independence. He is the public officer Linux Users Victoria, and founding president of the Isocracy Network.

Lev presented at the Singularity Summit AU in 2010.

Social Formations in a Transhumanist World

A theoretical analysis of social formations assigns qualitative differences to social structures in socio-historical structures and in terms of individual development along formal pragmatics and action, differentiating between social systems and cultural lifeworlds. In the former, broad social formations (primitive, traditional and modern), correlated with means of communication (speech, writing, print), means of production (gathering, agriculture, industry), institutional means (kinship, the state, the corporation), systematic differentiation (kinship, political rank, economic class) and a mode of consciousness (mythic, religious, secular). In the latter, biological evolution of the self (infancy, early childhood, late childhood, adolescence and adulthood) correlates with neurological and social development of the person along cognitive, moral, identity and expressive dimensions.
Positing a technological self-transformation of the species through genetic engineering, artificial intelligence, prosthetics and animal uplifting, or a combination thereof, will also witness changes in cultural mores and social systems. Speculation on the social structural content of a transhuman, post-modern social formation poses some difficulty, due to ontological differences. Nevertheless expressions can be made based on elaborations of best current knowledge which suggest qualitative changes of thought-transference, information economics, collegial management of economic rent, and a universalistic mode of consciousness, challenged by the cognitive capability to adapt mature thought with an accelerated growth phase. The probable postmodern social formation of transhuman life has strong collectivist and environmentalist orientations which may be contrary to the desires of many of its advocates.
http://www.levlafayette.com/

James Newton-Thomas

James Newton-Thomas
James Newton-Thomas

James is Director at Second Tree Pty Ltd and Director at Gestalt Australia Pty Ltd. He is an independent consultant on field robotics and has team managed and deployed several mining and military systems. His company was fully acquired by Caterpillar in 2005. He was a speaker at the Singularity Summit Australia 2010.

James was an early developer of AI systems in Australia developing loan officer systems used in the major banks in Australia in the 80s using neural networks and adaptive expert systems. This work was extended through the 90s into high energy laser development including phased array lasers and adaptive vision systems.

His later interests and area of work is in the engineering of machine consciousness, specifically the phenomenology of consciousness, and the development of quantum Turing architectures.

James earned his M.AppSci at RMIT University, Australia. He currently works in Melbourne and is working towards his Ph.D. Read his LinkedIn profile.

He is an independent consultant on field robotics and has team managed and deployed several mining and military systems. His company was fully acquired by Caterpillar in 2005. He was an early developer of AI systems in Australia developing loan officer systems used in the major banks in Australia in the 80s using neural networks and adaptive expert systems. This work was extended through the 90s into high energy laser development including phased array lasers James Newton-Thomas Second Treeand adaptive vision systems. His later interests and area of work is in the engineering of machine consciousness, specifically the phenomenology of consciousness, and the development of quantum Turing architectures.

He currently works in Melbourne and is (slowly) giving himself time to work towards his PhD.

Convergences

James presented at the Singularity Summit AU in 2010. The presentation was entitled “Convergences”.

Abstract: The Singularity is a clear and present danger. The problem with developing Strong AI is what goes into its seed, its initial conditions. It could prove very problematic if the Singularity sprouts from a Strong AI created by someone who’s ideology includes enslaving the world, or for some other completely selfish reasons.

James Newton-Thomas “Convergences” – Singularity Summit AU 2010 from Adam A. Ford on Vimeo.

James Newton-Thomas “Convergences” – Singularity Summit AU 2010 from Adam A. Ford on Vimeo.

James was also on a panel:

 

Panel – Longevity – Singularity Summit AU 2010 from Adam A. Ford on Vimeo.

Panel – Longevity – Singularity Summit AU 2010 from Adam A. Ford on Vimeo.

Singularity Summit Australia – September 2010

The Singularity Summit Australia 2010 is a rare gathering of thinkers to explore the rising impact of science and technology on society. The summit has been organized to further the understanding of a controversial idea – the Singularity scenario.

This is the very first Singularity Summit outside the US – and it will be held in Melbourne, Australia on the 7th, 10th(fri), 11th and the 12th(sun) of Sept.
This Summit held in Melbourne with local luminaries and big thinkers will be an excellent opportunity to see many inspiring talks and discussion panels.
To get an idea of the level of quality of presentations given in previous years go to the Singularity Instutute Media page.
This is your chance to hear world-class speakers, and meet Australian and internationally acclaimed enthusiasts, geeks, transhumanists, singularitarianists, skeptics, humanists, rationalists and possibly even academics and scientists in one of Australia’s most vibrant and exciting cities.

We hope you will join us on September 7th, 10th, 11th & 12th.
Register your interest >>

Singularity Summit 2010

The Singularity Summit this year will be held at the Hyatt Regency in San Francisco, California on Aug 14-15th.
“The first Singularity Summit was held at Stanford in 2006 to further understanding and discussion about the Singularity concept and the future of human technological progress. It was founded as a venue for leading thinkers to explore the subject, whether scientist, enthusiast, or skeptic.

Since 2006, the scope of this dialog has expanded dramatically. In 2008, the Singularity entered mainstream consideration. IEEE Spectrum, a sober and mainstream technology publication, issued a special report on the Singularity, and Intel CTO Justin Rattner remarked that “we’re making steady progress toward the Singularity” during his keynote to 2,000 people at the Intel Developer Forum. What was once a relatively unknown concept is now being discussed in corporate board rooms.

We invite you to join our extraordinary group of visionaries in business, science, technology, design, and the arts, as our community explores this exciting topic. Your participation offers a world of powerful ideas, a unique networking opportunity, and access to an exclusive directory of your peers.”