Adonis Diaries

Posts Tagged ‘Singularity University


One Week at Singularity University

Sitting at the lounge in San Francisco airport, alone, after one week at Singularity University, feels weird.

It went so fast, was so dense that if feels like it’s been 1 month. I still need to digest this experience but here are my feelings, raw, no filter.

Written  by Jeremie Moritz

For those of you who haven’t heard about SU, their purpose is quite clear:

“Our mission is to educate, inspire and empower leaders to apply exponential technologies to address humanity’s grand challenges.”

Sound simple, doesnt it?

Exponential is one the the two important words here. (And the least feasible in real life)

It all started with the meeting of Ray Kurzweil Singularity concept and Peter Diamandis optimistic take on our world, abundance.

The other important word here is Humanity.

Even if Singularity University is all about the impact of exponential technologies in all its form (biotech, nanotech, artificial intelligence…), it is not for the sake of science but with a clear intention to enhance humanity.

People call that transhumanism or life extension but I see this as an acceptation that our future will be transcending borders, nationalities, races and that solutions (and problems) are global.

What makes it interesting is that people can really change the world at a global scale and pretty fast. (Start fast on the local level)

And this is where I really felt this week of Executive Program at SU is a unique and transformative experience I will never forget. Why?

Some of my friends got jealous when they saw some photos of the SU lab with Oculus Rift Goggle or some (already old) robots. But it’s clearly not the gadgets and machines I will remember.

Actually it’s cheaper and easier to buy them yourself or go to a Google event near you than flying all the way to San Francisco for this.

If I had to pitch SU in 1 minute it would go like this: Imagine you spend 1 week on a NASA facility with 70 people from 30 countries, 30 industries. Then add 15 of the world’s best experts AND speakers on topics from Artificial Intelligence to Ethics and Environment. Mix everything, add some wine (Irish Whiskey in my case 🙂 ) and you get Singularity University Executive Program Experience.

It is fascinating to be able to spend that much time with people who took the decision the leave their family, job, friends for 1 week to dive into the impact of technology on our future and what it means for everyone one of us.

Discussions are exploding from 8 AM to 3AM and believe me, it’s far from being nerds talking about their computer CPU Speed! ethics, human condition, project ideas, life events…

You definitely find here the opportunity to discuss topics rarely touched in your business, family or friends circles. Not saying it does not happen but the environment at SU definitely helps.

People spend 1 week in the NASA Campus basic rooms. This is part of the experience. Having the same time in a 4 seasons would definitely be too comfortable.

My last “hot” feedback is on the format of the sessions we have. The 2 reasons why it’s unique: speakers and data.

Not only you get world experts in more than 15 different topics but all their sessions are backed with an enormous amount of data.

It is a key point and prevent people from focusing on the form only to convince you. Data is objective, without any feeling and globally relevant.

That’s it for now.

I need to digest this incredible week with incredible people. And rest too, SU can also mean Sleepless University 🙂

My thoughts are especially going to one of our fellow attendee who sold his house a few months ago and decided to stay a few more weeks on the campus to pursue an idea. And possibly decide where his life will go next. Talking about being bold…

Read more about these Immortal mortals

Raymond Kurzwell believes that fabricating a brain is far simpler than we apprehend it to be.  He says that brain structure is in the genome, and genome is at a manageable level of complexity to master.

I agree with Raymond Kurzwell that creating or producing a brain is feasible.  The question is: “What kind of brain we might end up with?  Is the created brain will ever perform at the level of any lower primate?  Will the brain behaves as we expect in complexity and flexibility? Will the brain be the image product of the “artificial intelligence” programs and algorithms that feed it with signals, data, and information and the way signals are transmitted by the growing and evolving brain?  Will the brain be a brain or just an amalgam of cells, tissues, neurons, synapses…that fire haphazardly with no purpose or goal?”

Yes, I believe that we can grow and create a brain under an incubator, fed artificially with nutrients and excited artificially with all kinds of sensory appropriate signals and cognitive information.  The question remains: “What end product might we end up with? Do we need for every single brain produced to be tested and validated for normal performance and behavior?  And what are the performance and behavior criteria we are comparing to?  Is the quality control technique still valid in this case?”

Otherwise, if every product is to be exhaustively tested then, we is the profit?  No enterprise will ever invest a dime in that project.  Not even the Pentagon will invest in more than two version, for curiosity sake. Even if we can install thousands of incubators to mass produce brains, as with enriched uranium, the fact that every single brain has to be tested and validated for long time is not what industries want to invest in.  Still, it is premature to scratch that project if you hear “professors and promoters” at Singularity University campus located in NASA and funded by Google and the Pentagon.

Our normally developed brain is already too frustratingly complicated to comprehend its processes:  Those thousands of tests and experiments done on brain and mankind psychological and social behaviors have not led to reducing the level of complexity in the functioning of the brain in any significant way.

May be we have to wait until we understand how our brain functions so that we might be able to test and validate incubator’s products.  Anyway, there is no harm to start producing a “specimen brain” so that we learn the daunting task ahead of us to circumventing natural evolution and stop bragging of mankind intelligent power to developing any kind of technology and comprehending the universe.

Immortal mortals in 2100: What is “Singularity University”? (Dec. 17, 2009)

Do you know there is a “Singularity University” that was instituted in NASA compound ground this summer of 2009?  Forty students out of 1,200 candidates were selected to attend 9 weeks of focused conferences and workshops, directed by prominent and top researchers and multinational entrepreneurs such as Vinton Cerf (father of Internet), Robert Metcalf (inventor of Ethernet protocol), George Smoot (Nobel Prize of physics in 2006), the astronaut Daniel Barry, and Larry Page (founder of Google), in additional to a wide range of specialists in mathematics, medicines, and space researchers.

What are the purposes of this special summer mental retreat or summer camp? 

A British engineer, Simon Daniel, who attended the sessions wrote a series of articles in the “Financial Times” and said: “An underlying common and recurring theme is that everything is possible. If you can conceive an idea then a capital risk investor will finance it, and technology will produce your concept before you though it was plausible”.

For example, students have to reflect on this question “How would you feed one billion individual on earth?”  Since what we eat is organic matter,  we should be able to manufacture a machine equipped with nanorobots that will produce edible food from mud and algae.

Thus, the Law of Moore (founder of Intel) has been proven countless times in the last 4 decades, and which states:  “The number of transistors on an electronic chip doubles every two years at constant cost”.

All scientific fields are witnessing the application of Moore’s law at the same rate of acceleration and are interacting with one another.  It appears that technological progress is experiencing an exponential explosion.  “The next century will account for 20,000 years in technological progress computed at today’s rate” said engineer Ray Kurzweil who published “Humanity 2.0. The Bible of change” and who is the driving force behind this movement of thinking.

Kurzweil is adamant that new computer generations will have cognitive performances and will pass Turing test so that people interacting with the computer will believe that they are communicating with an intelligent human instead of a machine by 2020. Thus, this trend in technology will attain the “Singularity” goal, which is “a universe of matters and energies enveloped in a mist of “intelligence” totally detached of biological origins and human brain”.

Kurzweil admits taking 250 different pills per day and half a dozen intravenous injections per week in order to staying young and vigorous.

Who is the spiritual mentor? 

He is the mathematician Vernor Vinge who wrote science fictions and predicted this phase in knowledge development as if “we are entering a regime as different from our past as human fared with animals”

The “singularity” movement has been active for over 20 years and been disseminating its ideology via Internet sites. The idea is that the “transhumanists” or “extropians” will counter the inevitable organic degradation with a permanent increase of information. The movement has its own lobby.

The sociologist James Hughes directs the Institution for Ethics and Emerging technologies associated with the movement.

The founder of this university, Peter Diamandis, claims that technology will feed man and abolish all his physical pains; thus, the older members want this immortality technology to be applied now so that they could live one thousand years.

Students visit factories where algae and bacteria are produced for bio-kerosene; they lunch with capital risk investors; they play with the latest generations of Lego that are programmed for computers; they reflect on worst case scenarios, for example, “Intelligent robots decide to annihilate biological man and an experiment contaminated Earth”

Immortality is the critical theme: religions were instituted to cow the human specie into accepting God’s pre-ordained schemes; thus, man reacted to defy God’s plans. Maybe we might live longer and technology might aid us survive a while longer, but how can we do that after earth demise?

Copenhagen conference for climatic change was not a success.  Are investment allocated to spaceships that will save a few elite human species and transfer them to another habitable planet of any benefit?

So far, technology is out of control and unregulated on the ground of “How can we regulate human imagination and human drive for immortality?




March 2023

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