Some problems are so complex that you have to be highly intelligent and well informed just to be undecided about them. - Laurence J. Peter

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Singularity - the rest

A few things I remember from the rest of the conference:

Pete Estep began his talk by replying to a quote by a Singularity skeptic:
"There's too much fixation on death avoidance. That's a shame, because in the future, as computers become stupendously powerful and as electronics and other technologies begin to enhance and fuse with biology, life really is going to get more interesting."

He wondered why someone would not be excited about avoiding death, and surmised that evolution has had to deal with hominids being aware of death for millions of years and thus we come up with "baseless fantasies" and rationalizations for it.

Pete Diamandis spoke about his work as the founder and chairman of the X-Prize Foundation. They've set up numerous prizes in the areas of space flight, education/global development, fuel economy, and other areas.

He notes that prizes are very efficient. The X-Prize for private space travel was $10 million, but much more than that was spent by the teams that competed for the prize. He says that about 10% of charity should be prizes. I think he said that that would amount to $30 billion annually

He wants to do a prize for a manned mission to Mars. It would have to be one way only - that's the only way it makes sense, he boldly stated.

Ray Kurzweil replied to some of the other speakers. One interesting thing was a reply to Marshall Brain about the potential unemployment of robots replacing some jobs. He says that if in 1900 he'd told America (paraphrased): "30% of you work in factories and 30% of you work in agriculture, that's going to be 3%/3% in a hundred'd have been alarmed about your jobs. But it turns out that you become web designers and social networking entrepreneurs and all kinds of other new jobs that didn't exist."


Blogger Barrett said...

on future unemployment, any discussion of what the new jobs might be? A thought catalogue of jobs that could absorb ppl who are displaced by robots could be a lot of fun. Ppl could extrapolate out from current developments in S&T, energy etc. and figure out what we'll all be doing in 30-50 yrs.

8:49 AM

Blogger Michael said...

If I recall correctly, there wasn't any speculation of what new jobs might appear.

It's fun to think about. I guess there could be an explosion of genetic programmers, just as there's been an explosion of computer programmers. And maybe robots too - robot programmers and maybe robot manufacturing.

11:13 AM

Anonymous siggi said...

The overseen and systematically not discussed point seems to me that "intelligence" is a parameter which affects ALL jobs. The argument as Kurzweil states it is true as long as intelligence isnĀ“t in the game. The whole singularity scene - perhaps with the exception of Dr. James Hughes and a few other - pretends there will no states and phases presingularity which are characterized by massiv accumulation and inequality. Thats one reason to demand a (friendly) singularity as quick as possible.

5:08 AM


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