Singularity Summit 2009

Over the weekend I spent a couple of hours at the Singularity Summit. I twittered before – it was a very closed job: no questions, no video-, no audio-taping allowed. And it seemed to be the Ray Kurzweil cheer group … which isn’t bad itsself, but at least it only represents one part of the whole story. And the story is interesting and important!

As you can see here singularity has many facets. The one that is most interesting to me is its technical understanding: Singularity is when machine intelligence equals/accelerates human intelligence.

At the summit most of the talks were very scientific, hard to understand for an outsider like me. So no wonder my major takeaway from the summit was Brad Templeton‘s talk. His topic: robocars.

One of the most exciting near-term AI prospects is cars that drive themselves — robocars. Thanks to DARPA’s contests, prototype cars are already a reality, and technogical barriers should fall in around a decade. The consequences of making transportation a software problem and bringing Moore’s law to cars are breathtaking. They begin with the million people killed each year in accidents and the hundreds of billions of human-hours wasted driving, and extend to providing a way to make light, efficient electric cars based on existing technology marketable to the public. Bought and used by early adopters, and spreading like the internet, robocars can assure most trips use the right vehicle and enable both electric cars and new fuels. Energy use by cars can be cut more than in half, eliminating the need to import oil, and eventually to use it at all.

It was a very lively and also a very funny talk! I hope the video is up soon. And it was very practical … ! Loved it!

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