Re: Confronting The Singularity Conference

From: Brian Atkins (
Date: Fri May 26 2000 - 19:58:08 MDT

John Clark wrote:
> I haven't read any reports on the Foresight Institute's confronting the singularity
> conference, how was it?

My take:

As a networking/funding/meet people you know or heard about in person type
thing it was great.

As for learning stuff you didn't already know, I found that the majority
of the participants were not as well informed as myself or some of the
other people on this list. Sure some of them are experts in certain
fields, but as for well considered, REALISTIC opinions on what the
singularity or even near-future holds it wasn't anything to write home
about. I was surprised at how conservative many of the people there
were- you would think these people who are all supposedly looking forward
to the future and rapid technological change would want more than a
simple star trekian future. But that seemed to be their outlook... I
ran across VERY FEW people actually interested in trying to accelerate
the singularity.

The environment and setup for the group discussions was a bit too
chaotic and simply noisy. Added to my feelings above, I didn't really
find many discussions veering into territories I haven't already seen
discussed before in other places.

As for getting a better feel for where Foresight itself stands on these
issues it was very good. I was disappointed to get the impression that
they are remaining very focused on nanotech only, rather than branching
out and also focusing on other routes to a singularity.

There were some no-shows including Minsky and Kurzweil.

It was quite evident that nanotech is gaining steam. Technanogy sponsored
the event, they are a nanotech incubator backed by Ted Waitt (of Gateway
computers). Their first project is "nano aluminum", which in its first
application is the creation of super high thrust solid rocket fuel. Think
single stage to orbit at $50 to 100 a pound. But for starters they are
working on refitting stingers and other conventional weapons.

The food was pretty good :-) San Francisco was cold, and had waaay worse
traffic than last time I was there in 96.

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