At the End of the World…

… At the end of the world, there will be only two people left … me and some Hongkongese guy.  He will be walking very slowly, right in front of me, unaware of my existence, staring at his phone and desperately sending text messages to himself….

New book: Between Ape and Artilect

A book version of the various interviews I did for H+ Magazine over the last few years (with me mainly as the interviewer) …

http://www.amazon.com/Best-H-Magazine-Vol-1-2008-2010/dp/1496073312

For purchase in hardcopy, or free online as PDF … ;)

Lead guitarist of Devo bites the dust… ;o

Sadly, it seems the second-Mongoloid-in-command, Bob Casale, has left us…

http://eprotoeu.mtiny.com/article.ftl?id=512200&cc=ND

It will be imperative to resurrect him post-Singularity so he can do this again:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F2tZqXWa7no

Given that Devo foresaw the devo-lution of humanity well before “Idiocracy”, it will be ironic to see “Are we Not Men — We are Devo!” performed by robots containing the uploaded minds of the members of Devo ;) …  (Followed up perhaps by Post Post Modern Man ?)

Really though — It’s a weird feeling to see the musicians I enjoyed in my teen years, who seemed so young and robust, bite the dust one after the other….  Such a ridiculous loss of talent, knowledge, soul….

Fortunately, we are moving toward radical life extension now, in a serious way.   Unfortunately, we are moving in that direction far more slowly than we could be, due to our society prioritizing various things like warfare, lingerie, shiny cars, plastic Jesuses and chocolatier chocolate over working toward the end of the suffering that aging and death bring.

And so it goes at this time in this plane of being.

But of course, as my beloved comrade Gino says, “Right here, right now it’s good to be alive.”

Which unfortunately Bob Casale is no more.

And let us admire the poetry once again ;-)

MONGOLOID HE WAS A MONGOLOID
HAPPIER THAN YOU AND ME
MONGOLOID HE WAS A MONGOLOID
AND IT DETERMINED WHAT HE COULD SEE
MONGOLOID HE WAS A MONGOLOID
ONE CHROMOSOME TOO MANY
MONGOLOID HE WAS A MONGOLOID
AND IT DETERMINED WHAT HE COULD SEE
AND HE WORE A HAT
AND HE HAD A JOB
AND HE BROUGHT HOME THE BACON
SO THAT NO ONE KNEW
MONGOLOID, MONGOLOID
HIS FRIENDS WERE UNAWARE
MONGOLOID, MONGOLOID
NOBODY EVEN CARED
MONGOLOID HE WAS A MONGOLOID
ONE CHROMOSOME TOO MANY
MONGOLOID HE WAS A MONGOLOID
AND IT DETERMINED WHAT HE COULD SEE
AND HE WORE A HAT
AND HE HAD A JOB
AND HE BROUGHT HOME THE BACON
SO THAT NO ONE KNEW

And of course that classic of 20th century philosophy, Freedom of Choice:

In ancient Rome, there was a poem
About a dog, who found two bones
He licked the one, he licked the other,
He went in circles until he dropped dead

Freedom of choice is what you’ve got
Freedom from choice is what you want…

Important research avenues on my mind…

A friend emailed today and asked me


… could you tell me what you think are the 5 most important/promising avenues on your mind right now, for example in the space of technology development that has value within the next few years and certainly impacts a positive future? E.g. if you had lots of options, which 5 things would you chose to work on right now?


Apparently he’s putting together a summary report for someone…


I didn’t have time to write a careful answer, but here’s the quick list I tapped out.   This is totally off the cuff and not in any particular order and probably leaves important things out, but indicates some aspects of where my mind has been at lately..

  1. AGI, obviously … creating robots and virtual-world robots that move toward human-level general intelligence
  2. Growing brains in a vat … we can think of this as a different approach to AGI, using a wet medium … extend the recent work on micro-brains by adding scaffolding and sensors, etc. etc.
  3. I’m sure you won’t use this one, but hey — Finding the biological roots of psychic phenomena via invasive animal studies on precogitive animals.  The data strongly suggests such phenomena are real, but the classic “parapsychology” research paradigms aren’t gonna get to the heart of the matter…
  4. Cold fusion.  It seems to almost surely work, but it’s finicky.   Way more $ should be going into figuring out what’s going on
  5. Build a massive graph database of all known info regarding all organisms, focused on longevity and associated issues, and set an AI to work mining patterns from it… I.e. what I originally wanted to do with my Biomind initiative, but didn’t have the $ for…
  6. Automated language learning — use Google’s or Microsoft’s databases of text to automatically infer a model of human natural languages, to make a search engine that really understands stuff.  This has overlap with AGI but isn’t quite the same thing…
  7. I want to say femtotech as I’m thinking about that a fair bit lately but it probably won’t yield fruit in the next few years…
  8. Someone should invent a way better method of brain scanning, so we can finally do mind uploading.  I think this needs some revolutionary innovation, but all approaches with a prayer of delivering such innovation should be funded.
  9. Nanotech-using-molecular-bio-tools and synthetic biology seem to be going interesting places, but I don’t follow those fields that closely, so I hope you’re pinging someone else who knows more about them…

Singularity or Bust! — film now online for free

Raj Dye’s award-winning documentary film on my approach to AI and the future, and my 2009 AI/robotics work with Hugo de Garis, is now online for free; see http://singularityorbust.com

Meta-Enlightenment (?) ;)

Is there a concept of “meta-enlightenment”  – when you’re so enlightened that you no longer care about being enlightened?

After all, what difference does it make if one particular human being is enlightened or not?  Isn’t this an insignificant fact in the light of the huge size and massive complexity and diversity of the cosmos?

Do the nine-dimensional machine-elves care whether Jack is enlightened and Jill isn’t, or Jill is enlightened and Jack isn’t?

Isn’t striving to make one particular human mind/body enlightened, a form of ego-attachment, an overestimate of the importance of that one mind-body?

How does this relate to Bob Dobbs’ philosophy of Slack?? ;D

Is Crunchkin enlightened or meta-enlightened?

So many mysteries to understand !!

English and Mandarin Speaking AI Nannies !

Hmmm… Google’s automated ad-selection algorithm is clever but not quite clever enough!

Are Hongkong-based readers of my article on hypothetical future “AGI Nannies” truly especially interested in hiring English and Mandarin speaking nannies to care for their tykes? ;-D …

Preprints of my Artificial General Intelligence 2013 papers

I’ll be giving 6 talks at the upcoming AGI-13 conference in Beijing; preprints of the corresponding papers for 5 of them are here (the 6th talk on cognitive robotics has no corresponding paper):


Statement on the Recent TED/Psi/Consciousness Controversy

There has been a minor kerfuffle recently regarding the TED franchise’s decision to remove from their main video site, TEDx conference talks given by scientists promoting psi research and the exploration of non-reductionistic approaches to consciousness.

Due to my role in the recently-formed Society for Consciousness Studies, I was asked to contribute a statement to a Huffington Post article on the topic, and I did so; but for some reason (perhaps a simple oversight or clerical mishap) my statement was not included in the article….   So, I am posting the statement I wrote for that article here, in case anyone is interested.


I have spoken on my AI and bioinformatics work at multiple TEDx events, and up till now I’ve had nothing but praise for the wonderful work of the TED organization.

For this reason, I was rather disappointed to observe the recent actions on the part of the TED administration, removing TEDx conference talk videos by Rupert Sheldrake, Russell Targ and others, due to criticisms by certain self-appointed “skeptics” and accusations of “pseudoscience.” Apparently the issue is that their work touches on psi phenomena, commonly known as the “paranormal.”

In my own view, as a scientist with 25 years professional experience in multiple scientific disciplines, the work of these individuals is absolutely not pseudoscience, and would be better characterized as “frontier science.”   Yes, their work  is controversial and in some respects speculative.  But it is based on carefully gathered experimental data, analyzed thoroughly by thoughtful and educated people.  It might prove wrong in the end, but it’s not pseudoscience.

It is noteworthy that the “skeptics” who have prevailed upon the TED administration to call these scientists’ work pseudoscience, consistently refuse to engage in any detail with the actual data gathered by these scientists, or others working on psi and other frontier aspects of mind-matter interaction.

I wonder if the TED administration is aware that  there is a substantial community of serious scientists — including many, like myself, who have contributed to TED events — who

1) disagree with the evaluation of the work of Sheldrake, Targ etc. as pseudoscience, and believe the removal of their videos was a suboptimal decision

2) believe it would be to the benefit of TED and the world at large, if wide-ranging scientific explorations into the nature of consciousness and its relation to the world, were among the permitted topics at TED conferences

My respectful request to the TED administration is that they rescind their decision, and open their minds and their conferences to scientists exploring the relationship between mind and matter.  The scientific data regarding psi is complex and, confusing — I know, because I have looked at it thoroughly myself.  But I believe there is very likely something valuable there, amidst all the confusion.  And I submit that providing an arena for the discussion and debate of controversial, tricky issues with potentially dramatic impact, is very much in the spirit of TED.

H+ Connect (?)

As part of my role as Vice Chairman of futurist advocacy organization Humanity+, I’ve been devoting a few spare thought-cycles recently to the issue of building community among the futurist/transhumanist/Singularitarian/whatever community….

I thought of the idea of creating some kind of social-networky thing for transhumanists specifically.  Humanity+ Board member Amy Li suggested that “Connect” was a better name than “Network”, and I decided I liked the ring of “H+ Connect.”

So for now at least, H+ Connect it is…

I’ll now briefly describe the “H+ Connect” vision in my  mind….   These thoughts are currently QUITE PRELIMINARY and definitely fall into the estimable category of “brainstorming” ;-)

H+ Connect would be a dynamic network of information about transhumanist people and groups thereof.   Initially it would be represented by a website, but the same network of information could take some different practical form in future…

Some concrete ideas are:

  • let people join as H+ Connect as members for free
  • to join, an individual must input some basic information about themselves
  • members can form and join groups….  These groups may represent general interest groups, or specific projects
  • a project group should have some shared workspace, like a wiki page (with subpages) or similar.  For instance, the organization of a Humanity+ conference would correspond to a project group.  Or, there could just be a group of people interested in sharing information about some specific book or technology.  Etc.
  • a general interest group focused on business networking, would be in essence an “H+ Business Network”, an idea I have put forth before.  Folks in the H+ Business network, when on business travel, could look up others in the network and get together to discuss possible collaboration
  • a general interest group comprised of practicing scientists, would be an “H+ Science Network”, another idea I floated once before
  • members should be able to submit articles to H+ Magazine via the H+ Connect site, and have other members vote on the article’s relevance and quality….  POSSIBLY: Any article with votes above a certain threshold gets into the magazine….  In this way the members themselves take on a lot of the editorial role….

There is likely some existing software that could be customized to serve the above functions.  Or maybe some scripting must be done to combine existing software together into an overall site….

I don’t currently think this should be done within some existing social network site like Facebook or LinkedIn.   Those sites are valuable (though I admit I don’t really like them or use them often), but they would nudge the community in a different direction than would be the case if we had our own site and owned our own experience and information.  On the other hand, we definitely don’t want to reinvent the wheel software-wise.

There is a lot more to be thought through here in terms of branding, user experience design, implementation and everything else….  I’m just tossing out the idea now to get some feedback…

;-)

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