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The future of the Singularity

A public dialogue organised by the Club of Amsterdam

According to the Singularity Institute, (technological) singularity is the technological creation of smarter-than-human intelligence. So simple the definition may look like, it signals the end of 5 million year human evolution with the emergence of super intelligence as a result of exponential technological development. Although different technologies are also suggested, artificial intelligence and brain interfaces are thought to be the likely ones that would first match the level of acceleration necessary to provide such an enormous change. With approximately 100 billion neurons, human brain easily surpasses today's computer forces. However, this does not change the fact that human brain has only tripled its capacity during the entire evolution while the computing benchmarks increase exponentially, doubling every one or two years. This information hypothetically provides us necessary variables to create a timetable for closing the distance of capacity between the human brain and the foreseen technologies. The arrival to such a threshold will create a loop, or an explosion like the big bang some would say (Ray Kurzweil), which, in turn, will make it possible for instance artificial intelligence to improve its own source code, automatically capsizing the superiority of human intelligence as we have known.

Concept by Iclal Akcay

The speakers and topics are:

Frank Theys, philosopher, filmmaker and visual artist
Changed attitudes on 'human enhancement' since the turn of the millennium.
Around the turn of the millennium economic changes and concrete technological breakthroughs within the converging technologies (nano, bio, information and cognitive sciences - NBIC) induced a changed attitude on the prospect of improving the human body among the scientific, the political as well as the cultural communities in the West . Together with the replacement of the term 'transhumanism' by the more politicaly neutral 'human enhancement', the perception moved from fringe sciences to the mainstream scientific and political agenda and from scienfiction to the mainstream, psychological novel.

Yuri van Geest, Head of Emerging Technologies, THNK, the Amsterdam School of Creative Leadership.
Singularity - The Biggest Tech Wave is Here
Which emerging technologies can be identified in the short and long term that will significantly impact you, your organization and the world at large? What are the social, cultural, ethical, economic, political and legal questions and implications of biotechnology, neurotechnology, artificial intelligence, robotics, brain computer interfaces, internet as well as new energy systems and its convergence?

Henny van der Pluijm, Expert author/editor/publisher on technology and venture capital, Venturemedia.nl
Human rights for machines
With machine intelligence developing at a rapid pace in the near future, the day will soon come when machines will be uncontrollable and their behavior incomprehensible. Within a human generation, the biggest bottleneck in their performance will be the lack of autonomy to function without human oversight. Providing machines with rights and duties will be necessary to repair the balance. This way machines will still be working for us instead of we working for them.

Arjen Kamphuis, Co-founder, CTO, Gendo
The Singularity - Fantasy, threat or opportunity?
The technological singularity is an interesting concept from 1993 by mathematician Venor Vinge. Vinge describes the consequences of smarter-than-human systems (computers, improved humans or symbiotic human-machine systems) as leading to an infinite acceleration of intelligence-improvement. It goes like this: "what would a smarter-than-human artificial intelligence do? It might play the
stockmarket or be the worlds greatest artist, politician or general. But it might also become the worlds smartest computer-science researcher working on improving artificial intelligence, making a better version of itself. Rinse and repeat and interesting stuff starts to happen. Computer systems are doubling a performance every 18 months under the limited guidance of static human intelligence. With self improvement they could perhaps double in a much, much shorter time-spans. Think 17 minutes. Or less.

The implications of this idea are profound. It has the potential to make most of our problems today irrelevant (material scarcity and mortality might turn out to be easily solvable problems). It may also destroy our entire solar system.
But just as with nuclear fusion there is also the possibility that it won't happen. We must guard against passivity among smart people who stop solving problems while they are waiting for 'the rapture of the nerds'.

The conference language is English.

the future of the Singularity
Thursday, May 19, 2011
Registration: 18:30-19:00, Conference: 19:00-21:15
HTIB, Eerste Weteringplantsoen 2c, 1017 SJ Amsterdam

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