Singularity Summit At Stanford

The Singularity Summit, a one-day event that is free and open to the public, will take place on May 13, 2006 at Stanford University. The notion of a technological "singularity" was first clearly set forth in 1993 by mathematician and science fiction writer Vernor Vinge, who predicted that "within thirty years, we will have the technological means to create superhuman intelligence- shortly after, the human era will be ended."

Here's a more elaborate definition, from the (very nice) event website:

In futures studies, the singularity represents an "event horizon" in the predictability of human technological development past which present models of the future cease to give reliable or accurate answers, following the creation of strong AI or the enhancement of human intelligence. Many futurists predict that after the singularity, humans as they exist presently won't be the driving force in scientific and technological progress, eclipsed cognitively by posthumans, AI, or both, with all models of change based on past trends in human behavior becoming obsolete.
(From the Singularity Summit)

The program is packed with great speakers: popular polymath Ray Kurzweil (author of The Singularity is Near: When Humans Transcend Biology) and sf author Cory Doctorow, as well as scholars in the fields of ethics, artificial intelligence, nanotechnology and more. And people like Eric Drexler and Douglas Hofstadter, both popular authors and renowned academics, who mock my attempts at quick short-article characterization.

This sounds like a great program; space is limited, so be sure to RSVP at their website. I'd be happy to cover this event myself, but I gave up doing those 2,250 mile drives for one-day events.

Science fiction fans are well-prepared to discuss this topic; Vinge fans will have read The Peace War and Marooned in Realtime which work with the Singularity concept. His work on the notion of a sensory experience of a data network preceded the more famous cyberspace ideas of William Gibson; read about Vinge's Portal. Other early work on sf machine intelligence includes the Central Computer from Arthur C. Clarke's 1956 novel The City and the Stars, the City Fathers from James Blish's 1957 collection Cities in Flight and Mike from Robert Heinlein's 1966 novel The Moon is a Harsh Mistress.

Read Vinge's original paper, take a look at the Singularity Summit Website or read the press release.

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