Panel Woodstockfilmfestival: Singularity is Near!

We live in an era of exponentially increasing advances in artificial intelligence, nano technology, robotics, designer drugs, bionics, and techniques to defeat—and perhaps even reverse—cellular aging. Scientific optimists look forward to a transhuman future when our life expectancy will be dramatically, if not infinitely, extended; when people no longer suffer from disability or disease; when super-intelligent machines will “reproduce” by designing and building their own successors; when the line between humans and computers will increasingly blur, as we “download” our memories and minds into machines and become bionic ourselves. What promises and challenges does this vision of the future hold?

The panel was moderated by Paul Hoffman. Great job he did!!!
He is the editorial chairman of BigThink.com, a storyteller at The Moth, and an award-winning science writer. His own work explores the relation between genius, madness, and obsession. He has written three books on this subject: “The Man Who Loved Only Numbers,” “Wings of Madness,” and a memoir, “King’s Gambit: A Son, a Father, and the World’s Most Dangerous Game.” Formerly the president of Encyclopedia Britannica and the editor in chief of “Discover” magazine, Hoffman is the winner of the first National Magazine Award for Feature Writing and is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. His Web site is http://www.thepHtest.com.

Details regarding the panelists:

We live in an era of exponentially increasing advances in artificial intelligence, nano technology, robotics, designer drugs, bionics, and techniques to defeat—and perhaps even reverse—cellular aging. Scientific optimists look forward to a transhuman future when our life expectancy will be dramatically, if not infinitely, extended; when people no longer suffer from disability or disease; when super-intelligent machines will “reproduce” by designing and building their own successors; when the line between humans and computers will increasingly blur, as we “download” our memories and minds into machines and become bionic ourselves. What promises and challenges does this vision of the future hold?

Moderated by
Paul Hoffman is the editorial chairman of BigThink.com, a storyteller at The Moth, and an award-winning science writer. His own work explores the relation between genius, madness, and obsession. He has written three books on this subject: “The Man Who Loved Only Numbers,” “Wings of Madness,” and a memoir, “King’s Gambit: A Son, a Father, and the World’s Most Dangerous Game.” Formerly the president of Encyclopedia Britannica and the editor in chief of “Discover” magazine, Hoffman is the winner of the first National Magazine Award for Feature Writing and is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. His Web site is www.thepHtest.com.

Details regarding the panelists:

Ray Kurzweil is one of the world’s leading inventors, thinkers and futurists, with a 20-year track record of accurate predictions. Called “the restless genius” by the “Wall Street Journal,” and “the ultimate thinking machine” by “Forbes” magazine, PBS included Ray as one of 16 “revolutionaries who made America.” He established Singularity University in 2009 to assemble, educate and inspire a cadre of leaders who strive to understand and facilitate the development of exponentially advancing technologies in order to address humanity’s grand challenges. Ray has written six books, four of which have been national best sellers, among them “The Age of Spiritual Machines” and “The Singularity is Near.”

Martine Rothblatt,
Ph.D, MBA, is a lawyer, author and entrepreneur. She is the founder of numerous companies, including Sirius Satellite Radio and United Therapeutics. She has cyber-scripted pioneering websites including endracism.org. Her company “Terasem Motion Infoculture” produces independent narrative and documentary films that raise public awareness and understanding of innovations in human life extension through the geo-ethical application of cyber consciousness and biotechnologies.

2 thoughts on “Panel Woodstockfilmfestival: Singularity is Near!”

  1. Fascinating discussion!

    In the mid-1980’s, finding I couldn’t defeat a $35 Radio Shack chess game if I set the skill level too high, I began thinking of a day when I might have a very hard time “matching wits” with something like that if I were discussing subjects which intrigued me, such as free will vs. determinism.

    In some place like Second Life not too long from now, it seems as if I might be able to have a conversation with an “alter ego” of mine, based on the kind of “mindfile emulation” technology Martine Rothblatt is pioneering through Terasem.

    In the course of such a meeting I might hear my “cybertwin” say, “We did it! It’s fantastic! If you keep your mindfiles up to date and do this when you finally can’t keep that old biological body going anymore, there will be two of us up here, like twin brothers with life history of memories that are different of course, but many of our memories of what it’s like to be in an aging biological body will be identical!”

    That would mean that when I finally fell asleep for the last time in a biological body, I might expect to shortly afterward “wake up” in cyberspace, “remembering” my last few moments in a biological body by means seeing a video of it, as if I were a “soul” hovering over my body as it died and fell away, feeling as if the “real me” had been “beamed up” like by a Star Trek “transporter”, into virtual reality, there to continue life endlessly, not just in virtual reality but then later in the real world through “physical avatars”, probably nanobot based, but even in a biological form if I desired to do so.

    Perhaps the most remarkable thing might be finding that my earlier-uploaded-cybertwin and I might be able to interchange ideas in a highly synergistic, constructive, creative way, with the uncanny feeling that we could almost “read each other’s minds”, as many identical twins testify is their experience simply by sharing the same genome and family experience.

    The outlook for such a personal future is truly mind-bending, and it seems inevitable that this will answer the thorny “personal destiny” questions that have troubled humans since the dawn of spoken language.

    Doing this will be something akin to what most of us experienced as kids, the first time we jumped off a diving board. It looked scary, but the moment our heads popped back out of the water we felt the exhilaration and realized it was no big deal, and then we wanted to go off the even higher boards.

    In like manner, many will hold back and watch their friends do it, and then in conversations with them in places like Second Life it will become inescapably apparent that it’s really “the same people we knew before they did it”, except they are so turned on by what they say they are experiencing that the reluctance will go away, and those who earlier were afraid will follow in this “exodus into cyberspace”.

    Thank you, from the bottom of my heart, Ray and Martine, for what you have done to help me see what’s coming and feel more comfortable with what the future holds! Others, many other are likely to feel the same thing in the way of gratitude, with time!

    Fred Chamberlain (aka boundlesslife)

  2. REPLY:
    our pleasure. our identities will at last be freed, at least in part, from the pretension of being isolated, disconnected, singly embodied souls.

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