From: Eugene Leitl (eugene.leitl@lrz.uni-muenchen.de)
Date: Thu Mar 30 2000 - 22:45:20 MST

Any list participants going? Hope I'll see you there...

                            A SYMPOSIUM AT STANFORD
                       -- free and open to the public --

                   Saturday, April 1, from 1 PM till 5:30 PM
        Teaching Center, Science and Engineering Quad (TCSEQ), room 200
      near the Math Corner, Sequoia Hall, and the Varian Physics Building

rimary speakers:

ay Kurzweil (inventor of reading machine for the blind, electronic
eyboards, etc., and author of "The Age of Spiritual Machines")

ans Moravec (founder of Carnegie-Mellon University's Robotics Institute,
nd author of "Robot: Mere Machine to Transcendent Mind")

ill Joy (co-founder of, and chief scientist at, SUN Microsystems)
ohn Holland (inventor of genetic algorithms, and artificial-life
pioneer; professor of computer science and psychology at the U. of Michigan)

anel members:

alph Merkle (well-known computer scientist and one of today's top figures
n the explosive field of nanotechnology)

evin Kelly (editor at "Wired" magazine and author of "Out of Control",
 study of bio-technological hybrids)

rank Drake (distinguished radio-astronomer and head of the SETI
Institute -- Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence)

John Koza (inventor of genetic programming, a rapidly expanding branch of
rtificial intelligence)

Symposium organizer and panel moderator:

ouglas Hofstadter (professor of cognitive science at Indiana; author of
G-del, Escher, Bach", "Fluid Concepts and Creative Analogies", etc.)

      In 1999, two distinguished computer scientists, Ray Kurzweil and Hans
Moravec, came out independently with serious books that proclaimed that in
the coming century, our own computational technology, marching to the
exponential drum of Moore's Law and more general laws of bootstrapping,
leapfrogging, positive-feedback progress, will outstrip us intellectually
and spiritually, becoming not only deeply creative but deeply emotive, thus
usurping from us humans our self-appointed position as "the highest product
of evolution".
      These two books (and several others that appeared at about the same
time) are not the works of crackpots; they have been reviewed at the
highest levels of the nation's press, and often very favorably. But the
scenarios they paint are surrealistic, science-fiction-like, and often
      According to Kurzweil and Moravec, today's human researchers, drawing
on emerging research areas such as artificial life, artificial
intelligence, nanotechnology, virtual reality, genetic algorithms, genetic
programming, and optical, DNA, and quantum computing (as well as other
areas that have not yet been dreamt of), are striving, perhaps unwittingly,
to render themselves obsolete -- and in this strange endeavor, they are
being aided and abetted by the very entities that would replace them (and
you and me): superpowerful computers that are relentlessly becoming tinier
and tinier and faster and faster, month after month after month.
      Where will it all lead? Will we soon pass the spiritual baton to
software minds that will swim in virtual realities of a thousand sorts that
we cannot even begin to imagine? Will uploading and downloading of full
minds onto the Web become a commonplace? Will thinking take place at
silicon speeds, millions of times greater than carbon speeds? Will our
children -- or perhaps our grandchildren -- be the last generation to
experience "the human condition"? Will immortality take over from
mortality? Will personalities blur and merge and interpenetrate as the
need for biological bodies and brains recedes into the past? What is to
      To treat these disorienting themes with the seriousness they deserve
at the dawn of the new millennium, cognitive scientist Douglas Hofstadter
has drawn together a blue-ribbon panel of experts in all the areas
concerned, including the authors of the two books cited. On Saturday,
April 1 (take the date as you will), three main speakers and five
additional panelists will publicly discuss and debate what the
computational and technological future holds for humanity. The forum will
be held from 1 PM till 5:30 PM, and audience participation will be welcome
in the final third of the program.

Sponsoring agencies at Stanford:
    Symbolic Systems Program; Center for the Study of Language and
    Department of Computer Science; Department of Philosophy; Center for
    Computer-Assisted Research in the Humanities; Channel 51; GSB Futurist

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