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/

Slade Beard

slade_beard_rc100x120Slade is a systems analyst with extensive experience in the application of systems thinking to complex problems.
He has worked as an Enterprise Architect, Business Analyst, Human Factors Analyst and Project Manager with extensive experience in the Defence, National Security, Emergency Services and secure systems environment. Slade has been in the IT industry since 1988, and is experienced in systems engineering, systems architecture, systems integration, security assessment and development of sustainment frameworks for new systems. He is also a thought leader in human factors for the design of critical incident management systems and environments.
He also, in a rather silly moment, enrolled at the University of NSW in a research PhD where he is undertaking research in complex systems, human decision making and the human journey.
His particular passion is the evolution of human capability and the process of the human collective journey and the relationship between human technology development and the evolution of the individual and society.
He has previously presented papers on subjects as diverse as soft skill development in project management through to the application of human factors in the design of systems to support decision making in response in counter terrorist operations.

Slade presented at the Singularity Summit AU 2010.

Abstract – “Complex Systems and the Human Journey”

At the start of 2001-A Space Odyssey there is a scene where a group of apes experiencing a singularity style event is represented. The scene shows an ape learning to use a bone tool to kill for food. A new technology is developed and as a result the ape species can more effectively control a constrained resource. Then the ape turns the new tool to the task of defending another limited resource – in this case water. A new process is applied to an existing technology resulting in the killing of an enemy. Now a single group of apes can dominate the landscape. The game has changed.
Singularity is one of these future pivotal events. The Kuhnian paradigm shift that changes the game completely.

The human journey is, in my opinion, a set of steps where process is applied to the use of technology to shape or respond to the environment. We are good at it. We adapt technology, we change processes and we shape the environment around us. Then we store what we have learned and then teach it to each other. And so we adapt.
Rather than discuss the potentials held out by singularity or to debate the reality or otherwise of achieving singularity, I would like to take a moment to ponder the human capacity to adapt to these game changing moments. In order to understand how we will deal with the challenges of singularity (and in fact any event which changes the game) I would like to look back a little and see the human journey for the marvel that it is. That we have come so far and adapted so much is a stunning achievement. And there is a definite pattern to how we have undertaken this journey. I will present one viewpoint that sheds some light on this human journey.
From our look backward we will see, in looking forward, how we will adapt to the game changing events like singularity. The systems based viewpoint provides one lens through which we can look forward to these events and understand the human response both collectively and individually.

Slade presented at the Singularity Summit AU in 2010.

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.