Singularity Salon Talk – Presentation Transcript
- Putting the Human Back Into the Post-Human
- If I Can’t Dance, I Don’t Want to be Part of Your Singularity Some Meandering Thoughts by Jamais Cascio
- What is the Singularity? A disproportionate increase in the power of intelligence to achieve desired ends, including further boosting the power of intelligence.
- Within thirty years, we will have the technological means to create superhuman intelligence. Shortly after, the human era will be ended.
- Within thirty years, we will have the technological means to create superhuman intelligence. Shortly after, the human era will be ended. –Vernor Vinge, 1993
- The Singularity story echoes two very old tropes in popular mythology, but with a more recent twist.
- HUBRIS. We make things that try to kill us.
- ASPIRATION TO HUMANITY. We make things that want to be like us.
- The twist? Transcendence.
- The Singularity Story (in ﬁve slides)
- we create AI
- The AI “wakes up”
- The AI makes itself smarter
- The AI makes itself much smarter
- The AI takes over It might be friendly It might be unfriendly (not much we can do about it, either way)
- (the end)
- But what happens when you change the focus?
- we create AI
- we create AI (but now the focus of the story is the “we”)
- we create AI (but now the focus of the story is the “we”) OK, what “we”? Are there competing projects? Is this secret? Public? Civilian? Military? Open Source? How do governments react? How do markets react? How do citizens react? What are we doing in the meantime?
- not the end
- What’s Pushing Us to Do This? Technological capacity Competition (markets & politics) Need for complex systems to grapple with complex problems Curiosity
- What Might Hold Us Back? Dead-end technology paths Regulations Backlash against AI (or related technologies) Fear
- COMPLICATION #1: RESPONSIBILITY CREATION HAS CONSEQUENCES
- COMPLICATION #2: POWER POLITICS MATTERS
- COMPLICATION #3: LIABILITY A NO-FAULT SINGULARITY?
- COMPLICATION #4: RIGHTS NO SUCH THING AS A HAPPY SLAVE OR AN ETHICAL MASTER
- COMPLICATION #5: EMPATHY DON’T KICK THE ROBOT
- So… where does this all lead?
- Scenarios! tool for collaboration vs tool for competition short-term thinking vs long-term thinking
- email@example.com Twitter: @cascio
Students starting school this year may be part of the last generation for which “going to college” means packing up, getting a dorm room, and listening to tenured professors. Undergraduate education is on the verge of a radical reordering. Colleges, like newspapers, will be torn apart by new ways of sharing information enabled by the Internet. The business model that sustained private U.S. colleges can’t survive.
The real force for change is the market: Online classes are just cheaper to produce. Community colleges and for-profit “education” entrepreneurs are already experimenting with dorm-free, commute-free options. Distance-learning technology has just hit its stride after years of glitchy videoconferences—and will keep improving. Innovators have yet to tap the potential of the aggregator to change the way students earn a degree—much like the news business in 1999. And as major universities offer some core courses online, we’ll see a cultural shift toward acceptance of what is still, in some circles, a “Phoenix U” joke.
It is hard to predict the precise pace of change—but it’s possible that within 15 years most college credits will come from classes taken online. In 2007, nearly 4 million students took at least one online course, and the numbers are growing. Within a generation, college will be a mostly virtual experience for the average student. The Ivies will be much less affected than the mid-tier and local schools. But colleges that depend on tuition, and have no special brand, will be hit hard. The recession will accelerate this trend, as students become warier of taking on loans, and state schools experiment after fund cuts. This doesn’t just mean a different way of learning: The funding of academic research, the culture of the academy, and the institution of tenure are all threatened.
Having multiple studies for various cross functional activities and responsibilities will be the norm. The standard and near future degree programs don’t reflect this. I say less than 10 years not 15 and we will see this come to pass.
Speculators Rush to Register Catchy Internet Domain Names.
Jun. 7 — Five years ago, Tucson resident Ehud Gavron posed a fairly casual question that turned out to be worth $1million.
Gavron’s friend and stockbroker Eric Wade kept switching Internet service providers. Each provider would assign Wade a new e-mail address, making it hard for Gavron to remember how to reach him.
He suggested that Wade get a permanent e-mail address that he could take along if he switched providers. In Internet jargon, he was suggesting that Wade register his own domain name, or dot com.
Neither of the two anticipated that a few years later there would be a dot com frenzy sweeping the Internet, with fortunes made and courts clogged by litigants. As many as 50,000 names are registered each week.
Speculators searched for and registered every catchy name they could think of. In some cases, they registered names already trademarked by other companies. Beanie Baby manufacturer Ty Inc., Mattel Inc., Pfizer Inc. and Porsche AG have filed suits in recent months over Web sites that the companies say come too close to their trademarks.
The Beanie Baby suit was filed in federal court in late April against Mesa resident Susan B. Joy over the site beaniecollectibles.com. The suit said that Joy sought to sell the domain name. The site beaniecollectibles.com has been taken down since the suit was filed, and Joy could not be reached for comment.
Sales of choice domain names have brought astronomical sums over the last year or so. The name altavista.com sold for $3.35million. A Dutch man received an offer of $5million for Linux.com, but sold the name for a lower undisclosed amount. Business.com brought in $150,000.
It costs an individual $70 to register a name for two years. Names are registered through Internic, www.networksolutions.com. The site provides a searchable database to determine whether a name already has been taken. Another site with information on unclaimed names, for a fee, is www.unclaimeddomains.com.
Gavron said it’s flattering that people think he had the vision to grab a hot property.
“I wish everybody would think that I was a genius,” he said.
That’s not the way it happened. Because Wade was a stockbroker, he and Gavron searched for something that would be appropriate. Stockbroker.com was gone. So were several others. Then they hit the jackpot.
“Wallstreet.com wasn’t taken,” Gavron said. Wade used the name for his e-mail. The two had no idea the name would prove valuable down the road. In fact, he bristles at being included among the domain speculators.
“At that time, there was no such thing as domain speculation,” Gavron said.
The two men talked about developing a financial site at Wallstreet.com but only got as far as taking on a third partner and putting up a stock ticker.
Without any advertising or real content, the Web page started getting significant numbers of stray visits from Web surfers.
The group got an inkling that they might have something valuable. But they still weren’t prepared for what happened.
When they were contacted by a pornography dealer who offered them $250,000 for the name, they finally realized what they had.
“If you have a back yard full of junk and someone comes along and offers you $1,000 for an old lawn mower, it might make you wonder what they know,” Gavron said.
The partners decided to auction off the name and set a minimum bid of $300,000.
Bidders offered thousands of shares from the initial public offering of an Internet company. One offered a percentage of a small phone company.
The winning bid was $1.03million from Players Only, an offshore gambling company, which comes to roughly $343,000 each.
Gavron, who owns Aces Research, a Tucson Internet provider, said the windfall is great, but he hasn’t quit his day job.
“I got to tell a lot of credit card companies that I won’t be doing business with them,” he said.
An individual domain name is everything that follows the www in a web address, Amazon.com, for example. They are not to be confused with Internet domains, or top-level domains, which are the portion of a Web address after the final period. Com is the commercial domain. Gov is government. Org is for organizations. Mil is for military. Domain speculation focuses on the dot coms, the individual names within the com domain, because that’s where the money is.
“There’s a gold rush going on out there, and dot coms are the real estate,” said Scottsdale entrepreneur Kevin J. Berk, who owns 17 domain names. Berk said his wife was a little unhappy at first when he spent about $1,000 registering the names.
“As an investment, it’s fairly cheap,” he said.
As an investment, it’s also fairly speculative, he adds. Several new top-level domains may be added that overlap the dot com domain. That would dilute the value of dot com names.
“If they create .store or .company, that will severely impact the value of dot coms,” Berk said.
Berk’s holdings include TvToYourPC.com, DownloadProgram.com and NetPayPerView.com. None of the names were registered for speculation, he said. He has plans to develop each into viable sites. But selling off a name or two makes a nice Plan B if he doesn’t develop it, or if an attractive offer comes along.
“I have to believe that in business, everything is for sale if the price is right,” he said.
Kathleen Forden is the founder and CEO of Chandler-based Limits Unknown, an Internet design and consulting firm. She owns a package of domain names built around the word local, including LocalUS.com, LocalNeighborhood.com and local combined with the two-letter abbreviation for all 50 states, LocalAZ.com, for example.
A few months ago she shopped the package of local names around but didn’t get any offers that she seriously entertained.
“At one point, that was my intention,” she said. “I was undercapitalized to develop them myself.” Since then, she has come up with some backers and has taken the names off the market.
Forden is working with a client trying to find a domain name for an art-related site, but art names have been picked clean. Art.com, ArtGallery.com, ArtMart.com are all taken. Forden and the client approached a couple of the people with attractive names to see if they were interested in selling. The asking price on one in particular was astronomical.
“It was laughable,” she said. “It was in the high five figures.”
Visit Arizona Central, the online edition of The Arizona Republic, on America Online (keyword: Arizona Central) or on the World Wide Web at http://www.azcentral.com
Sidener, Jonathan. “Speculators Rush to Register Catchy Internet Domain Names.” Knight Ridder/Tribune Business News. 1999. Retrieved September 11, 2009 from accessmylibrary: http://www.accessmylibrary.com/article-1G1-54816910/speculators-rush-register-catchy.html
“Re-Industrialize the Planet”. A quick summary:
* The web is creating a global infrastructure for collaboration (which leads to disruption and confusion)
* As a result, all of our institutions have come to the end of their life-cycle
* The current recession is a crucial punctuation point in human history – the point where we said that we need to reset, the point where the industrial economy has finally run out of gas
* This paradigm shift is creating a crisis of leadership
* The Digital Natives are inheriting this situation – and they think very differently
* Kids are now the authority on many issues
* We have 40 years to re-industrialize the planet
This concept allows to you to experience immersion and effortless navigation in an Augmented Reality environment. New types of interactions involving near-to-eye displays, gaze direction tracking, 3D audio, 3D video, gesture and touch.
Through these new types of social linkages people will be connected in innovative ways between the physical and digital worlds.It’s hands-free and weightless compared to a tablet, no small screen problem as you have on a mobile phone – but is it truly useful?
Unlike most other AR apps we’ve seen lately, where the physical world is referenced by the AR – the two seem unrelated here. It takes all kinds, though, and who’s to say how AR will be used?(Also, isn’t this music a little creepy? It sounds bittersweet about the inevitable and yet slightly frightening future.)None the less, we’d love to get our hands on a prototype of this technology to test it – just as soon as it becomes real.
“When I look at books, I see an outdated technology, like scrolls before books,’’ said headmaster James Tracy. (Mark Wilson for The Boston Globe)
There are rolling hills and ivy-covered brick buildings. There are small classrooms, high-tech labs, and well-manicured fields. There’s even a clock tower with a massive bell that rings for special events.
Cushing Academy has all the hallmarks of a New England prep school, with one exception.
This year, after having amassed a collection of more than 20,000 books, officials at the pristine campus about 90 minutes west of Boston have decided the 144-year-old school no longer needs a traditional library. The academy’s administrators have decided to discard all their books and have given away half of what stocked their sprawling stacks – the classics, novels, poetry, biographies, tomes on every subject from the humanities to the sciences. The future, they believe, is digital.
“When I look at books, I see an outdated technology, like scrolls before books,’’ said James Tracy, headmaster of Cushing and chief promoter of the bookless campus. “This isn’t ‘Fahrenheit 451’ [the 1953 Ray Bradbury novel in which books are banned]. We’re not discouraging students from reading. We see this as a natural way to shape emerging trends and optimize technology.’’
Instead of a library, the academy is spending nearly $500,000 to create a “learning center,’’ though that is only one of the names in contention for the new space. In place of the stacks, they are spending $42,000 on three large flat-screen TVs that will project data from the Internet and $20,000 on special laptop-friendly study carrels. Where the reference desk was, they are building a $50,000 coffee shop that will include a $12,000 cappuccino machine.
Check out Peek – a great simple device to get your email anywhere.
Peek was born on a walk in the park when Amol Sarva and his wife, Ursula, were expecting their first child. At six months pregnant, Ursula couldn’t sit still and found comfort in taking long walks. But planning for a new arrival and a busy life besides, Amol saw that Ursula would return feeling behind. Emails were piling up. She had inbox anxiety.
A seasoned wireless industry entrepreneur, Amol had long been using smartphones for mobile email. With smartphone in hand, their long walks were actually a great way for him to stay on top of things at the office. Amol tried to get Ursula to use one, describing the many features: email, texting, voice calling, Internet, etc. But the bells and whistles are exactly what turned her off. She didn’t want a complicated smartphone with extras she didn’t need.
What she really wanted was a simple, nifty device that would let her do email on the go since email was how everyone she knew made plans, caught up, and shared news.
Amol thought a simple, fun, and attractive mobile email device had to exist. He asked his contacts at the cell phone companies, but they were dismissive. Nobody wants “simple”, they want “more”, they said. But Amol saw an opportunity, which he discussed with a few colleagues from earlier ventures. They explored the idea in the “real world”, closely observing real people using email at their desks and on the go.
Amol’s hunch was right; people really want a device that simply does email.
via Peek – About Peek.
As an idea person, I’m constantly amazed at the speed of which new ones seem to be entering the main stream. If ideas use to be “a dime a dozen“, they are more like “penny for a pound” today.
From tweeting stuff your older father says to discussing the life of a squirrel, these ideas seem to be finding an audience and gaining sucess in short timeframes. Today the New York Times released an article that showcased the case of a Twitter account named “shitmydadsays”. Less than 30 days after launch, this young man has over 200,000 followers, media coverage, market appeal, an agent and multiple book offers.
So here’s to the speed of ideas and to hitting that sweet spot that only the world can tell you about.
The health-care debate entered a “new phase” this morning, as news leaked that President Obama was re-tooling his plans for reform. But while pundits wait for him to make a major health-care speech next week, millions of Americans are turning to the Web to self-diagnose aches and pains.
Web sites such as WebMD and Discovery Health have long served this audience–inundating them ads in the process. Luckily, those of us that can’t make it to a doctor (or can’t afford to) now have another option. It’s called HealthBase, and it was launched this morning by a semantic Web company called NetBase. The concept of “semantic Web” is a truly amazing evolution of the Web as we know it now: It allows your computer to “read” Web sites and know their content, instead of blindly presenting you with data it can’t understand. That means smarter searching and more relevant content. Here’s how it works.
When you search a condition, treatment or drug on HealthBase, it performs a semantic search of all the other health-related sites on the Web. That means it doesn’t just look at the titles of the articles and spit back a result, it reads into the actual text to deliver you really useful content. (If this sounds like a technology that would have great implications for your business, you’re right; check out Oracle’s semantic databases. It has also done wonderful things for social networking, people-search engines, and other services.) Thankfully, the brilliance of the backend of this site comes without any of the 90s-Web-portal sensory overload of other sites; it’s simple, easy to navigate and transparent. When you navigate to HealthBase, you’re met with just a search box, and four simple tabs.
Doing a search for “neck pain” led me to a plethora of confusing links and materials on WebMD. It’s hard to tell what’s advertising and what is content; even if you can parse the two, there are still an overwhelming number of options.
Semantic web in action – expect to see more and more of these centralized semantic searches for niche markets