The Singularity Summit is the Singularity Institute’s annual conference on science, technology, and the future. Topics explored include artificial intelligence, brain-computer interfaces, the Singularity, robotics, regenerative medicine, and big picture issues on the trajectory of human civilization. Each year, about 25 eminent speakers share their latest views over the course of two days.
The conference was founded by the Singularity Institute, Ray Kurzweil, and Peter Thiel in 2006. The inaugural conference was held in 2006 at Stanford University. Until 2008 the conference was held in the San Francisco Bay Area, at which point it began alternating between New York (where the conference was held in 2009 and 2011) and the Bay Area. The event regularly attracts over 800 scientists, entrepreneurs, academics, and other thinkers. In 2010, it was covered in a front-page article in TIME magazine.
Nathan Labenz: "Opening Remarks"
Temple Grandin - How Different People Think Differently
Author, professor, and autism advocate Temple Grandin uses the example of the 2012 Fukushima nuclear disaster to illustrate how sometimes, the most obvious flaws in a system can be the least apparent to those working in it.
Dr. Grandin is a designer of livestock handling facilities and a Professor of Animal Science at Colorado State University.
Temple Grandin: "How Different People Think Differently"
Laura Deming - End Aging
Thiel Fellow Laura Deming makes a plea for health research to tackle an epidemic that affects everyone: the negative effects of aging.
Currently a partner at Floreat Capital and fellow with the Thiel Foundation 20under20 Fellowship, Laura has wanted to cure aging since the age of 8. After years working on nematode longevity at the UCSF graduate school, Laura matriculated to MIT at 14 to work on artificial organogenesis and bone aging, and is now based in SF, working to find and fund therapies to extend the human healthspan.
Laura Deming: "End Aging"
Julia Galef - Rationality and the Future
Julia Galef, president and co-founder of the Center for Applied Rationality, describes humanity as slave to its own genes: that is, people exist solely to perpetuate their DNA. Furthermore, she argues, we have to contend with the fact that "the genes don't care about us."
Julia Galef is the president and co-founder of the Center for Applied Rationality, an organization teaching math and cognitive science-based techniques for effective decisionmaking. She has a degree in statistics from Columbia University.
Julia Galef: "Rationality and the Future"
Luke Muehlhauser - The Singularity, Promise and Peril
Luke Muehlhauser, Executive Director of the Singularity Institute, takes on skeptics who argue that superhuman artificial intelligence will forever remain beyond the capabilities of technology. "If you make these kinds of predictions about what machines can't do, you're going to end up on the wrong side of history," he says.
Luke Muehlhauser has published dozens of articles on self-help, decision-making, and artificial intelligence, including peer-reviewed research on AI safety. He is currently the Executive Director of the Singularity Institute.
Luke Muehlhauser: "The Singularity, Promise and Peril"
Linda Avey - Personal Genomics
Linda Avey, co-founder of 23andMe and Curious, reassures those with concerns about abuse of genetic information that it is not possible to make designer babies like in Gattaca, but there are ways to avoid some genetic diseases.
Linda Avey is co-founder and CEO of Curious, Inc., a personal data discovery platform. Previously, she co-founded 23andMe, the leading personal genetics company.
Linda Avey: "Personal Genomics"
Steven Pinker - A History of Violence
Harvard psychologist Steven Pinker links the Humanitarian Revolution, an historical decline in violence, to widespread literacy. "It's plausible," he explains, "that as people consume fiction, drama, history, and journalism, they start to inhabit the minds of people unlike themselves, which conceivably could expand their empathy and decrease their taste for cruelty."
Steven Pinker is Harvard College Professor and Johnstone Family Professor of Psychology at Harvard University, and has also taught at Stanford and MIT.
Steven Pinker: "A History of Violence"
Ray Kurzweil - How to Create a Mind
Author and futurist Ray Kurzweil examines the rise in health and wealth levels throughout the world since 1800, speculating that combining human intelligence with artificial intelligence will continue to perpetuate this trend.
Ray Kurzweil is a famous entrepreneur and inventor, described as “the restless genius” by The Wall Street Journal, and Co-Founder of the Singularity Summit.
Ray Kurzweil: "How to Create a Mind"
Q&A: Economist Daniel Kahneman, the Pioneer of Heuristics
Noble Prize-winning psychologist Daniel Kahneman comments on the most important biases concerning the singularity. Kahneman sees the major bias as believing in seemingly inevitable scenarios.
Daniel Kahneman pioneered the field of heuristics and biases with Amos Tversky. He won the 2002 Nobel Prize in Economics for his work on human decision-making.
Daniel Kahneman: "Q&A"
Melanie Mitchell: - AI and the Barrier of Meaning
Melanie Mitchell, Professor of Computer Science at Portland State University, redefines "singularity" to mean "the appearance of a machine that crosses the barrier of meaning." Mitchell proposes to do this by teaching computers visual concepts that they can re-purpose as analogies.
Melanie Mitchell is Professor of Computer Science at Portland State University, and External Professor and Member of the Science Board at the Santa Fe Institute.
Melanie Mitchell: "AI and the Barrier of Meaning"
Carl Zimmer - Our Viral Future
Popular science writer Carl Zimmer confirms that viruses will always surprise us, for better or worse: the key is to find innovative uses in science and medicine for viruses instead of trying to eradicate them.
Carl Zimmer is a popular science writer and blogger, writing about evolution, medicine, biotechnology, and natural history.
Carl Zimmer: "Our Viral Future"
Robin Hanson - Extraordinary Society of Emulated Minds
Robert Hanson, Associate Professor of Economics at George Mason University, speculates on how systems of class might operate between artificially intelligent machines. Speed and efficiency would be most rewarded, in Hanson's view, while interaction skills with humans would be least valued.
Robin Hanson is an associate professor of economics at George Mason University, a research associate at the Future of Humanity Institute of Oxford University, and Chief Scientist at Consensus Point.
Robin Hanson: "Extraordinary Society of Emulated Minds"
Jaan Tallinn - Why Now? A Quest in Metaphysics
Jaan Tallinn, creator of Skype and Kazaa, narrates a story that explores the notion of existing in multiple places simultaneously.
Jaan Tallinn is one of the programmers behind Kazaa and a founding engineer of Skype. He describes himself as a singularitarian-hacker-investor-physicist (in that order).
Jaan Tallinn: "Why Now? A Quest in Metaphysics"
John Wilbanks - Your Health, Your Data, Your Choices
John Wilbanks, Fellow in Entrepreneurship at the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation, uses what he learned from a copy of his genotype as a proxy for the possibilities of how people might be able to learn about themselves with usable electronic health records.
John Wilbanks is a Senior Fellow in Entrepreneurship at the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation, is currently running the Consent to Research project, and studied philosophy at Tulane University.
John Wilbanks: "Your Health, Your Data, Your Choices"
Stuart Armstrong - How We’re Predicting AI
Stuart Armstrong of the Future of Humanity Institute places the quality of predictions about the emergence of artificial intelligence on a continuum with other fields, showing them to be the least accurate.
Stuart Armstrong: "How We’re Predicting AI"
Vernor Vinge - Who’s Afraid of First Movers?
Retired mathematics professor Vernor Vinge describes one pathway toward the technological singularity: by using computers as external brain supplements that allow humans to approach superhuman intelligence.
Vernor Steffen Vinge is a retired San Diego State University (SDSU) Professor of Mathematics, computer scientist, and science fiction author.
Vernor Vinge: "Who’s Afraid of First Movers?"
Peter Norvig - Channeling the Flood of Data
Peter Norvig, Director of Research at Google, demonstrates a computer system that has been programmed to organize collections of images from YouTube videos into sets of objects, without any direction from the programmers.
Peter Norvig is a Fellow of the American Association for Artificial Intelligence and the Association for Computing Machinery, currently Engineering Director at Google.
Peter Norvig: "Channeling the Flood of Data"