David Kirkpatrick

September 13, 2010

Singularity University’s Graduate Studies Program student projects

Via KurzweilAI.net — I blogged about today’s webinar last week, and here’s a summary of the student projects from this year’s Singularity University.

From the first link:

Singularity University webinar today: sneak preview

September 13, 2010 by Edito

Former astronaut Dan Barry, M.D., PhD, faculty head of Singularity University, will join Singularity University co-founders Dr. Ray Kurzweil and Dr. Peter H. Diamandis on Monday, September 13, at 9:30am PT/12:30pm ET, in a live video webinar briefing to unveil this summer’s Graduate Studies Program student projects.

The projects aim to impact a billion people within ten years.

A Q&A session will follow the briefing. The briefing is free and is open to media and the public — visit http://briefing.singularityu.org/ to register.

Here are some of the team projects to be profiled in the webinar.

Achieving the benefits of space at a fraction of the cost

The space project teams have developed imaginative new solutions for space and spinoffs for Earth. The AISynBio project team is working with leading NASA scientists to design bioengineered organisms that can use available resources to mitigate harsh living environments (such as lack of air, water, food, energy, atmosphere, and gravity) – on an asteroid, for example, and also on Earth .

The SpaceBio Labs team plans to develop methods for doing low-cost biological research in space, such as 3D tissue engineering and protein crystallization.

The Made in Space team plans to bring 3D printing to space to make space exploration cheaper, more reliable, and fail-safe (“send the bits, not the atoms”).  For example, they hope to replace some of the $1 billion worth of spare parts and tools that are on the International Space Station.

The Cheap Access to Space team is working with NASA Ames and CalTech engineers and scientists on a radical space propulsion system using beamed microwave energy to dramatically reduce the cost of a space launch by a factor of ten.

Solving key problems for a billion people on Earth

Back on Earth, a number of teams are working on solving global problems of waste, energy, hunger, and water.

The three Upcycle teams have developed synergistic solutions to eliminate waste and reduce energy use.

The Fre3dom team is planning to bring 3D printing to the developing world to allow local communities to make their own much-needed spare parts using bioplastics.

The BioMine team is developing environmentally regenerative, safe, efficient and scalable biological methods for the extraction of metals from electronic waste. This is a multidisciplinary team with technical expertise ranging from synthetic biology and chemical engineering to computer science and biotech IP, and they are leveraging exponential advances in bioengineering, functional genomics, bioinformatics and computational modeling.

The i2cycle team focuses on developing global industrial ecosystems by upcycling one manufacturer’s waste (such as glass and ceramics) into raw material for another manufacturer (such as manufacturing tiles), conserving resources and energy in the process.

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The AmundA team is developing a Web-based tool that offers data such as electricity demand and energy resources  to guide suppliers in finding optimum, lower-cost, energy generation solutions.  They hope to  help 1.5 billion potential customers in the developing world gain access to electricity.

The H2020 team is building an intelligent, web-based platform to provide information on water to people. For example, they will use smart phones to crowd-source data about water problems,  such as pollution or shortages, in communities at the “bottom of the pyramid,” and will use AI to match problems with solutions.

The Naishio (“no salt” in Japanese) team, inspired by lecturers such as Dean Kamen, plans to use nanofilters to achieve very low cost and compact, but high-volume desalination. They have a designed a filtration cube measuring just 6.5 inches per side that could produce 100,000 gallons of purified water per day.

The Food for Cities program is planning to grow all the vegetables you need in a box barely larger than your refrigerator, using “aeroponics,” which could feed a billion people healthy food at low cost.

And the Know (Knowledge, Opportunity, Network for Women) team seeks to empower young women across the world by providing them with mentors and resources.

Full disclosure: writer and KurzweilAI editor Amara D. Angelica is an advisor to Singularity University.

September 8, 2010

Singularity University to announce session breakthroughs September 13

Via KurzweilAI.net — I blogged about one of the breakthroughs yesterday, and the university leader’s are going to announce the entire group next Monday.

From the first link:

Singularity University to Unveil Breakthrough Solutions for ‘Global Grand Challenges’ at Sept. 13 Briefing

September 8, 2010 by Editor

This summer, 80 students from 35 nations were challenged to apply innovations in exponentially advancing technologies to solve some of the world’s “grand challenges” with a focus on food, water, energy, upcycle, and space industries.

On Monday, September 13, at 9:30am PT/12:30pm ET, in a webinar briefing, Singularity University co-founders Dr. Ray Kurzweil, Dr. Peter H. Diamandis, and faculty head Dr. Dan Barry will unveil for the first time multiple solutions in each problem space, each aiming to impact a billion people within ten years.

A Q&A session will follow the briefing. The Briefing is open to media and the public, but space is limited. You can visit http://briefing.singularityu.org/ to register for the webinar briefing.

Singularity University (SU) is an interdisciplinary university whose mission is 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. With the support of a broad range of leaders in academia, business and government, SU hopes to stimulate groundbreaking, disruptive thinking and solutions aimed at solving some of the planet’s most pressing challenges. SU is based at the NASA Ames campus in Silicon Valley. For more information, go to www.singularityu.org and follow SU on Twitter and Facebook.

August 6, 2010

The Singularity and rationality

Via KurzweilAI.net

Singularity and Rationality: Eliezer Yudkowsky speaks out

August 5, 2010 by Thomas McCabe

Eliezer Yudkowsky is a Research Fellow at the Singularity Institute for Artificial Intelligence and founder of the community blog Less Wrong. We discussed his coming talk at the Singularity Summit on August 15, his forthcoming book on human rationality, his theory of “friendly AI,” and the likelihood of the Singularity and how to achieve it.

What are you working on currently?

I’m working on a book on human rationality. I’ve got… let me see… 143,000 words written so far. There’s been a lot of progress lately in fields contributing to human rationality, and it hasn’t made its way down to the popular level yet, even though it seems like something that should be popularizable. The second part of the book is on how to actually change your mind, and all the various biases that have been discovered that prevent people from changing their minds. Also, with reference to the Singularity, we’ve discovered in practice that you can’t just sit down and explain Singularity-related things to people without giving them a lot of background material first, and this book hopes to provide some of that background material.

Singularity Irrationality

What’s the most irrational thing you’ve heard regarding the Singularity?

That’s sort of a fuzzy question, because as the word “Singularity” gets looser and looser, the stuff you hear about it gets more and more irrational and less and less relevant. For example, for the people who think that the invention of hallucinogens was a Singularity… I forget who exactly that was [Terence McKenna].

The Singularity Institute once received an email saying, “This entire site is the biggest load of navel gazing stupidity I have ever seen. You are so naive, and clueless as to the inherent evil that lurks forever. A machine is no match for Satan.” I don’t know if that counts as the *most* irrational thing people have said about the Singularity, but…

In terms of what the public accepts as the Singularity, I think that the sort of more naive, “Well, people are still walking around in their biological bodies even after there are superintelligences around, and they’re just sort of being cool and futuristic but it hasn’t completely shattered life as we know it” — that sort of conservatism — may be the silliest thing. I think that’s a failure to understand superintelligence as something that becomes real and will have a real effect on the world.

(more…)

June 16, 2010

“The Singularity is Near” wins honors at Breckenridge Film Festival

Via KurzweilAI.net — Just the facts, ma’am.

The Singularity is Near wins awards at Breckenridge Film Festival
KurzweilAI.net, June 16, 2010

The Singularity is Near: A True Story About the Future received the Best Special Effects award and Second Place Audience Award at the 30th Annual Breckenridge Film Festival in Breckenridge, Colorado on June 13, according to Adele Sommer, festival programming director.

The feature-length documentary film, by filmmakers Anthony Waller, Ray Kurzweil, Ehren Koepf and Toshi Hoo, with Executive Producer Martine Rothblatt (Terasem Motion InfoCulture), explores the provocative arguments from Kurzweil’s New York Times bestselling book, The Singularity is Near.

He predicts that with the ever-accelerating rate of technological change, humanity is fast approaching an era in which our intelligence will become trillions of times more powerful and increasingly merged with computers. This will be the dawning of a new civilization, enabling us to transcend our biological limitations. In Kurzweil’s post-biological world, boundaries blur between humanand machine, real and virtual. Human aging and illness are reversed, world hunger and poverty are solved, and we cure death. He maintains an optimistic view of thefuture while acknowledging profound new dangers.

The New York premiere screening of the film is scheduled for June 24, 2010 at the TimeLife building in New York City, presented by the World Technology Network (WTN) in association with TIME magazine.

June 12, 2010

The Singularity in the NYT

Filed under: et.al., Media, Science, Technology — Tags: , , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 5:25 pm

Mainstreaming futurism. Well, sort of …

From the link:

Yet it also smacked of a future that the Singularity University founders hold dear and often discuss with a techno-utopian bravado: the arrival of the Singularity — a time, possibly just a couple decades from now, when a superior intelligence will dominate and life will take on an altered form that we can’t predict or comprehend in our current, limited state.

At that point, the Singularity holds, human beings and machines will so effortlessly and elegantly merge that poor health, the ravages of old age and even death itself will all be things of the past.

June 11, 2010

A bit on that other type of singularity

Filed under: Science — Tags: , , , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 2:47 pm

I do a fair bit of blogging about the technological Singularity, but this post is about one the better known scientific singularities —  in this case the singularity that lies at the heart of a black hole and how to go about getting a glimpse of one in all its glory. All that would take is to destroy the black hole that hides the singularity. This physics arXiv blog post is something of an instructional guide on how to go about snuffing out a black hole. Pretty simple in theory, but you know the rest.

From the last link:

In general relativity, the mathematical condition for the existence of a black hole with an event horizon is simple. It is given by the following inequality: M^2 > (J/M)^2 + Q^2, where M is the mass of the black hole, J is its angular momentum and Q is its charge.

Getting rid of the event horizon is simply a question of increasing the angular momentum and/or charge of this object until the inequality is reversed. When that happens the event horizon disappears and the exotic object beneath emerges.

At first sight, that seems straightforward. The inequality suggests that to destroy a black hole, all you need to do is to feed it angular momentum and charge.

And:

To any ordinary physicist, a singularity is an indication that a theory has broken down and some new theory is needed to describe what is going on. It is a matter of principle that singularities are mathematical objects, not physical ones and that any ‘hole’ they suggest exists not in the fabric of the Universe but in our understanding of it.

Astrophysicists are different. They have such extraordinary faith in their theories that they believe singularities actually exist inside black holes. The likes of Roger Penrose and Stephen Hawking have even proved that singularities are inevitable in gravitational collapse.

For them, removing the event horizon around a black hole raises the exciting prospect of revealing a singularity in all its naked glory. When that happens, we will be able to gaze at infinity.

May 31, 2010

Singularity Summit 2010

Via KurzweilAI.net — just the news …

Singularity Summit 2010 returns to San Francisco, explores intelligence augmentation
KurzweilAI.net, May 31, 2010

The Singularity Institute for Artificial Intelligence (SIAI) plans to announce its Singularity Summit 2010 conference tomorrow, scheduled for August 14-15 at the Hyatt Regency San Francisco.

“This year, the conference shifts to a focus on neuroscience, bioscience, cognitive enhancement, and other explorations of what Vernor Vinge called ‘intelligence amplification‘ (IA) — the other route to the Singularity,” said Michael Vassar, president of SIAI.

Irene Pepperberg, author of “Alex & Me,” who has pushed the frontier of animal intelligence with her research on African Gray Parrots, will explore the ethical and practical implications of non-human intelligence enhancement and of the creation of new intelligent life less powerful than ourselves. Futuristinventor Ray Kurzweil will discuss reverse-engineering the brain and his forthcoming book, How the Mind Works and How to Build One. Allan Synder, Director, Centre for the Mind at the University of Sydney, will explore the use of transcranial magnetic stimulation for the enhancement of narrow cognitive abilities. Joe Tsien will talk about the smarter rats and mice that he created by tuning the molecular substrate of the brain‘s learningmechanism. Steve Mann, “the world’s first cyborg,” will demonstrate his latest geek-chic inventions: wearablecomputers now used by almost 100,000 people.

Other speakers will include magician-skeptic and MacArthur Genius Award winner James Randi; Gregory Stock (Redesigning Humans), Director of the Program on MedicineTechnology, and Society at UCLA’s School of Public Health; Terry Sejnowski, Professor and Laboratory Head, Salk Institute Computational NeurobiologyLaboratory, who believes we are just ten years away from being able to upload ourselves; Ellen Heber-Katz, Professor, Molecular and Cellular Oncogenesis Program at The Wistar Institute, who is investigating the molecular basis of wound regeneration in mutant mice, which can regenerate limbs, hearts, and spinal cords; Anita Goel, MD, physicist, and CEO of nanotechnology company Nanobiosym; and David Hanson, Founder & CEO, HansonRobotics, who is creating the world’s most realistichumanoid robots.

Registration is $385 until June 7.

Full disclosure: KurzweilAI.net is a media partner inSingularity Summit 2010.

April 6, 2010

“The Singularity is Near” to debut at Sonoma Film Festival

News from KurzweilAI.net:

‘The Singularity is Near’ film debuts at Sonoma Film Festival
KurzweilAI.net, Apr. 5, 2010

“The Singularity Is Near: a True Story About the Future” makes its festival debut at the 13th Annual Sonoma Film Festival (April 15-18, 2010) with a special screening on Friday, April 16, 2010.

The feature-length film, directed by Anthony Waller and produced by Ray Kurzweil, Ehren Koepf and Toshi Hoo, executive producer Martine Rothblatt (Terasem MotionInfoCulture), explores the controversial ideas of Ray Kurzweil, based on his New York Times best-selling book by the same title.

Kurzweil examines the social and philosophical implications of these profound changes and the potential threats they pose to human civilization in dialogues with leading experts, such as former White House counter-terrorism advisor, Richard Clark; technologists Bill JoyMitch KaporMarvin Minsky, Eric Drexler, and Robert A. Freitas, Jr.; Future Shock author Alvin Toffler; civil liberties lawyer Alan Dershowitz; and music luminary Quincy Jones.

Kurzweil illustrates possible scenarios of his imagined future with narrative scenes starring popular NCIS actress Pauley Perrette and personal development guru Tony Robbins.

For more informationSonoma Film Festival and The Singularity is Near – The Movie.

March 17, 2010

Ray Kurzweil on Singularity University

A note from Ray hot from today’s inbox:

I wanted to take a moment to provide you a quick update on the ongoing progress of Singularity University.

I started Singularity University with Peter Diamandis (X Prize) last year and I am happy to report that it is growing, well, exponentially. Last week we concluded our second 9-Day Executive Program at our NASA Ames campus in Silicon Valley. Forty-five entrepreneurs, CEOs, venture capitalists, and government leaders came from over 15 countries and the feedback we are receiving from participants has been remarkably positive. Over 90% of participants rated the program very highly with one third saying it was their “best program ever!”

Our next 9-day program is coming up on April 30 – May 9th. The program concentrates on six exponential growing technologies:

1. Artificial Intelligence and Robotics

2. Nanotechnology

3. Biotechnology and Bioinformatics

4. Medicine and Human-Machine Interfaces

5. Networks & Computing Systems

6. Energy & Environmental Systems
Attending the program provides an understanding of how these accelerating technologies will transform your business and your industry by showing you what is in the lab today and where the technologies will be in 5 and 10 years. If you have an interest in attending, learn more about the program and how to apply by visiting our website at http://singularityu.org/executive-programs/.
With my best wishes,
Ray

March 16, 2010

The Singularity in the ivory tower

Via KurzweilAI.net — Rutgers is offering an online course on the technological Singularity.

Rutgers plans online course on the Singularity
KurzweilAI.net, Mar. 16, 2010

This summer, Rutgers University plans to offer “Special Topics in Sociology: Singularity Studies, the first accredited college course on the Singularity and associated technologies.

The three-credit summer course will feature online lectures and discussions every Monday and Wednesday evening throughout the summer and is available to students internationally.

The textbook will be The Singularity is Near: When Humans Transcend Biology by Ray Kurzweil, supplemented by online articles appropriate to individual lectures.

The course will feature online interviews with leading futurists and technologists around the world exploring the social implications of these anticipated developments. Topics include future studies and forecasting, finance and entrepreneurship, networks and computing systems,biotechnology and informatics, nanotechnology,neuroscience and human enhancement, artificial intelligence and roboticsenergy and ecological systems, and space and physical sciences.

The course will be taught by a father-son team, Ben and Ted Goertzel. Ben is the Director of Applied Research for the Singularity Institute for Artificial Intelligence and an External Research Professor at Xiamen University in China. He also heads up two startup companies, Novamente LLC and Biomind LLC, has written several books on artificial intelligence and related topics, and is an advisor to the AIRobotics Track at Singularity University.

Ted, Ben’s father, is a sociology professor at Rutgers who regularly teaches a Cyberspace and Society course and is author or co-author of numerous books on sociology andscience.

Students and guest speakers will be recruited internationally. The sessions will be recorded and available for viewing during the semester via the Elluminate system.

More info: Singularity Studies: The Future of Humanity in the Age of Superhuman Artificial Intelligence

October 5, 2009

2009 Singularity Summit media page

Filed under: Media, Science, Technology — Tags: , , , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 1:35 pm

Via KurzweilAI.net —

Singularity Summit media page launched

KurzweilAI.net, Oct. 5, 2009

The Singularity Summit has launched a media page foruploading videos (including some SS09 sessions), photos, and tweets (#SS09).

October 4, 2009

2009 Singularity Summit in progress

If you’re looking for information on, or reporting from, the 2009 Singularity Summit, hit this link for some excellent blogging on the various presentations and goings on in New York this weekend.

From the link, today’s wrap:

I’ll do a full retrospective at the end of the conference, but will offer just a short wrap-up for the first day. Today’s talks were, for the most part, rather dry and technical. Technical is good and important, but the talks today were really too short to provide anything but a high-level overview, and far too many of the presenters went into more detail than audience members could plausibly absorb. (Perhaps the speakers mean to induce through frustration a subtle case for neural enhancement? Or maybe they just figured they were preaching to an audience already well acquainted with the basics.) As is pretty typical, alas, of almost any kind of conference, many of the speakers seemed to be modifying talks they had given elsewhere and just tacking on a bit to the beginning and end about how their remarks were relevant to the Singularity — when they actually weren’t as pertinent as many of the attendees were expecting. At the breaks, I saw a lot of the speakers milling around and found myself unable to think of anything interesting to ask most of them about their lectures.

Many thanks to blogger Ari N. Schulman for the posts.

And if you’re wondering what all this Singularity stuff is, here’s my Singularity related posts.

(Hat tip: Instapundit)

September 4, 2009

Guidelines for ushering in the Singularity

Via KurzweilAI.net — Singularity news is always fun stuff.

The Singularity and the Fixed Point

Technology Review, Sept. 4, 2009

If one is trying to build an intelligent machine capable of devising more intelligent machines, a few guidelines are essential, says MIT professor Edward Boyden:

– Find a way to build in motivation, and also motivation amplification–the continued desire to build in self-sustaining motivation, as intelligence amplifies.

– Avoid paralysis of decision making from too many choices and a “societal fixed point” outcome that self-reinforces, remaining in the status quo.

Read Original Article>>

August 30, 2008

Singularity Summit 2008

Filed under: Business, et.al., Media, Science, Technology — Tags: , , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 4:09 am

From KurzweilAI.net — Here’s the lineup for Singularity Summit 2008. Keynote speakers include Ray Kurzweil and Justin Rattner, CTO of Intel.

Intel CTO and Ray Kurzweil Among Visionaries Headlining Singularity Summit 2008
KurzweilAI.net, Aug. 29, 2008

Singularity Summit 2008: Opportunity, Risk, Leadership takes place October 25 at the Montgomery Theater in San Jose, CA, the Singularity Institute for Artificial Intelligence plans to announce today.

Keynotes will include Ray Kurzweil, updating his predictions in The SingularityIs Near, and Intel CTO Justin Rattner, who thinks the gap between humans and machines will close by 2050.

Singularity Summit 2008 will feature an impressive lineup:

* Dr. Ruzena Bajcsy, pioneering AI and robotics researcher
* Dr. Eric Baum, AI researcher, author of What is Thought?
* Marshall Brain, founder of HowStuffWorks.com, author of Robotic Nation
* Dr. Cynthia Breazeal, robotics professor at MIT, creator of Kismet
* Dr. Peter Diamandis, chair and CEO of X PRIZE Foundation
* Esther Dyson, entrepreneur, investor, philanthropist
* Dr. Pete Estep, chair and CSO of Innerspace Foundation
* Dr. Neil Gershenfeld, director of MIT Center for Bits and Atoms, author of Fab
* Dr. Ben Goertzel, CEO of Novamente, director of researchat SIAI
* John Horgan, science journalist, author of The Undiscovered Mind
* Ray Kurzweil, CEO of Kurzweil Technologies, author of The Singularity is Near
* Dr. James Miller, author of forthcoming book on Singularity economics
* Dr. Marvin Minsky, one of AI‘s founding fathers, author of The Emotion Machine
* Dr. Dharmendra Modha, cognitive computing lead at IBMAlmaden Research Center
* Bob Pisani, news correspondent for financial news networkCNBC
* Justin Rattner, VP and CTO of Intel Corporation
* Nova Spivack, CEO of Radar Networks, creator of Twine semantic-web application
* Peter Thiel, president of Clarium, managing partner of Founders Fund
* Dr. Vernor Vinge, author of original paper on the technological Singularity
* Eliezer Yudkowsky, researchfellow at SIAI, author of Creating Friendly AI
* Glenn Zorpette, executive editor of IEEE Spectrum

June 6, 2008

More Singularity and living 3D nano-microscopy

From KurzweilAI.net. Ray Kurzweil talks about the Singularityon NPR and a new technique allows for nano-level microscopy on living cells.

Will We Recognize The Future?
Science Friday, June 6, 2008What happens when the rate of technological change becomes so fast that the fundamental nature of what it means to be human changes too?

On Science Fridayon NPR (June 6, 2009 at 3 PM), host Ira Flatow talks with inventor, technologist and futuristRay Kurzweil about the idea of the Singularity — what happens when technology advances so much that it’s impossible to predict what happens next. Will artificial intelligence, nanotechnology, and biotechnology be able to completely reshape what it means to be human?

This is a call-in radio show.

 
Read Original Article>>

Pretty on the Inside
Technology Review, June 5, 2008University of California, San Francisco and Ludwig Maximilians University researchers are using a new technique called 3-D structured-illumination microscopy to view living cells with 100 nanometers resolution.


Cells prepare for division by condensing their DNA into chromosomes (Lothar Schermelleh, Peter Carlton)

The new microscope illuminates cells with interference patterns. When a fine cellular structure reflects this light, it changes the pattern slightly. The microscope collects it, then software interprets the changes and creates an image.

The inner workings of living cells have previously been impossible to resolve with optical microscopes, which are limited to a resolution of about half the wavelength of visible light, around 200 nanometers. Electron microscopy has the resolution, but can only be used on dead cells.

 
Read Original Article>>

Spectrum Singularity special

Filed under: et.al., Media, Technology — Tags: , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 2:53 am

IEEE Spectrum Online has a special report on the Singularity.  I haven’t read much of it just yet, but looks pretty cool.

Vernor Vinge pens one article.

Here’s an excerpt:

In that event, I expect the singularity will come as some combination of the following:

 

The AI Scenario: We create superhuman artificial intelligence (AI) in computers.

 

The IA Scenario: We enhance human intelligence through human-to-computer interfaces—that is, we achieve intelligence amplification (IA).

 

The Biomedical Scenario: We directly increase our intelligence by improving the neurological operation of our brains.

 

The Internet Scenario: Humanity, its networks, computers, and databases become sufficiently effective to be considered a superhuman being.

 

The Digital Gaia Scenario: The network of embedded microprocessors becomes sufficiently effective to be considered a superhuman being.

 

The essays in this issue of IEEE Spectrum use similar definitions for the technological singularity but variously rate the notion from likely to totally bogus. I’m going to respond to arguments made in these essays and also mine them for signs of the oncoming singularity that we might track in the future.

September 7, 2010

Low cost desalination for potable water

Via KurzweilAI.net — A theoretical device from the recently concluded Singularity University. This sounds like a fresh water solution with real promise.

From the first link:

Our approach leverages advances in 3 exponentially growing fields: synthetic biology, nanotechnology, and solar energy.  Synthetic biology is a factor because synthetic molecules are currently being developed that can create ionic bonds with sodium and chloride molecules, enabling fresh water to pass through a nanofilter using only the pressure of the water above the pipe.

Nanotechnology is relevant for reverse osmosis, because using thinner filter further reduces the amount of pressure required to separate fresh water from salt water. A filtration cube measuring 165mm (6.5 inches) per side could produce 100,000 gallons of purified water per day at 1 psi. Finally, as advances in solar energy improve the efficiency of  photovoltaics, the throughput of solar pumps will increase significantly, enabling more efficient movement and storage of fresh water.

Although the individual components described above have not advanced to a point where the solution is possible at present, we were able to speak with leading experts in each of these areas as to the timeline for these capabilities to be realized.

Synthetic molecules capable of bonding with sodium and chloride molecules have already been created, but have not yet been converted to an appropriate form for storage, such as a cartridge. This is expected to occur in the next 2-3 years. Filters are currently in the 10-15nm range, and are expected to reach 1nm over the next 3-5 years. As with the synthetic molecules, 1nm tubes have been built; just not assembled into a filter at this point. Photovoltaics are currently approximately 12% efficient, but it is anticipated that 20% efficiency is achievable in the next 5 years.

A possible implementation of our Naishio solution. The pressure from the water volume is sufficient to propel fresh water across the membrane (A), and photovoltaics (D) generate all the energy needed to pump water from the repository (C) to the water tank and circulator (E). Sensors (B) communicate between the solar pump and membrane to regulate the water level and ensure it doesn’t become contaminated. (Image: Sarah Jane Pell).

August 20, 2010

Ray Kurzweil on exponential growth and reverse engineering the brain

Via KurzweilAI.net — At the conclusion of a longer blog post refuting PZ Myers characterization that he “doesn’t understand the brain,” Ray Kurzweil concludes with a very salient point on exponential versus linear thinking and why many of seemingly fantastic predictions (from the coming of the Singularity on down) may not be so unreachable after all.

From the link:

Halfway through the genome project, the project’s original critics were still going strong, pointing out that we were halfway through the 15 year project and only 1 percent of the genome had been identified. The project was declared a failure by many skeptics at this point. But the project had been doubling in price-performance and capacity every year, and at one percent it was only seven doublings (at one year per doubling) away from completion. It was indeed completed seven years later. Similarly, my projection of a worldwide communication network tying together tens and ultimately hundreds of millions of people, emerging in the mid to late 1990s, was scoffed at in the 1980s, when the entire U.S. Defense Budget could only tie together a few thousand scientists with the ARPANET. But it happened as I predicted, and again this resulted from the power of exponential growth.

Linear thinking about the future is hardwired into our brains. Linear predictions of the future were quite sufficient when our brains were evolving. At that time, our most pressing problem was figuring out where that animal running after us was going to be in 20 seconds. Linear projections worked quite well thousands of years ago and became hardwired. But exponential growth is the reality of information technology.

We’ve seen smooth exponential growth in the price-performance and capacity of computing devices since the 1890 U.S. census, in the capacity of wireless data networks for over 100 years, and in biological technologies since before the genome project. There are dozens of other examples. This exponential progress applies to every aspect of the effort to reverse-engineer the brain.

July 13, 2010

Was our universe born in a black hole?

Filed under: Science — Tags: , , , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 1:20 am

Maybe so.

From the link:

“Accordingly, our own Universe may be the interior of a black hole existing in another universe.” So concludes Nikodem Poplawski at Indiana University in a remarkable paper about the nature of space and the origin of time.

The idea that new universes can be created inside black holes and that our own may have originated in this way has been the raw fodder of science fiction for many years. But a proper scientific derivation of the notion has never emerged.

And:

That means the universe as we see it today can be explained by a single theory of gravity without any additional assumptions about inflation.

Another important by-product of Poplawski’s approach is that it makes it possible for universes to be born inside the event horizons of certain kinds of black hole. Here, torsion prevents the formation of a singularity but allows a HUGE energy density to build up, which leads to the creation of particles on a massive scale via pair production followed by the expansion of the new universe.

This is a Big Bang type event. “Such an expansion is not visible for observers outside the black hole, for whom the horizon’s formation and all subsequent processes occur after infinite time,” says Poplawski.

For this reason, the new universe is a separate branch of space time and evolves accordingly.

December 4, 2009

The ultimate glass-bottomed boat

Filed under: Business, Science, Technology — Tags: , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 2:04 pm

Or as the overly long header describes this vessel, ” … the world’s first ‘space station of the sea.'” At any rate this thing is just very cool.

Out of this world: This is what the SeaOrbiter will look like - its inventor wants it to be a space station of the sea

From the link:

When it does first set sail, there will be six crew members, six scientists and six more people on board – these may be astronauts training in extreme conditions or doctors studying submarine human behaviour.

The SeaOrbiter will drift silently across the ocean – navigation tools, communications equipment and a lookout deck will rise above the surface of the sea.

Under the water level, there will be a pressurised deck for divers to undertake daily missions over a period of months.

‘There will be a gym, because it’s very important to practise sport, entertainment with a video player above each bunk, and nice food. I’ll do the cooking myself and I’m a good cook,’ Mr Rougerie added.

The ship’s anti-collision system is based on the one used by the international space station.

Mr Rougerie is confident that the ship will be built. ‘A year ago, it was 50-50,’ he said. ‘Now I would say it’s 90 per cent certain.’

Obviously the concept here is focused on research, but I see a lot of promise in commercial opportunities with ocean tourism.

(Hat tip: Blogging the Singularity)

March 31, 2009

Jim Canton on the future of technology

Filed under: Media, Science, Technology — Tags: , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 1:08 pm

A cool article from CIO.com. I’m always a sucker for anything Singularity.

From the first link:

Dr. James Canton has made a living out of predicting the future: He’s the CEO of the Institute of Global Futures, a Fortune 1000 advisor, author of such books as The Extreme Future and Technofutures, and an advisor to the new Google– and Nasa-backed Singularity University.

Despite the bleak economy and uncertain future, technology is key to our future, says Canton. Because of that tech workers and IT leaders are in a unique position to create opportunities for themselves. He weighed in on which trends were most important to techies.

 

James Canton
“Singularity—when AI based computers and networks rival or surpass human intelligence—wins the top prize for outrageous ideas of the year.”
Institute of Global Futures CEO James Canton

March 19, 2009

Transcendent Man to premeire at Tribeca Film Festival

This documentary is on futurist (and creator of the synthesizer bearing his name) Ray Kurzweil. Should be a very interesting film.

Hot from the inbox:

Transcendent Man, a documentary on the life and ideas of Ray Kurzweil, will premiere on April 25 at the prestigious Tribeca Film Festival in New York City .

 

See details below for how to get tickets to one of the premiere screenings.

 

Director Barry Ptolemy traveled to five countries and followed Ray Kurzweil for two years, documenting Kurzweil’s journey to bring the ideas from his best-selling book The Singularity is Nearto a world audience.  Ptolemy expertly explores the social and philosophical implications of the transformative changes that Kurzweil predicts and their intertwined promise and peril, in dialogues with world leaders such as Colin Powell; technologists Hugo de Garis, Peter Diamandis, Kevin Warwick, and Dean Kamen; journalists Kevin Kelly and Tom Abate; and luminary Stevie Wonder. Award-winning American composer Philip Glass composed the original theme music, which mirrors the depth and intensity of the film.

 

The movie trailer can be seen at http://www.TranscendentMan.com.

 

Head below the fold for more info. (more…)

February 26, 2009

H+ Magazine spring issue out

Filed under: Business, Media, Politics, Science, Technology — Tags: , , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 11:54 am

From KurzweilAI.net — H+ spring issue is out and features Vernor Vinge on Singularity 101, nanobots, the economy and more.

H+ Magazine Spring issue published
KurzweilAI.net, Feb. 26, 2009

Singularity 101 with Vernor Vinge, Space Solar, First Steps Toward Post Scarcity, Building Your Perfect Memory, Hacking The Economy, and Nanobots in the Bloodstream are among the articles in the impressive new Spring 2009 issue of the online trendsetting edge-culture magazine H+.

November 21, 2008

Los Alamos announces superconductivity news

The release:

Los Alamos Scientists See New Mechanism for Superconductivity

When materials are tuned to a critical point at absolute zero temperature, quantum effects dictate universal behavior in material properties. The presence of a singular point is revealed through its unusual electronic properties outside a new form of matter that hides the singularity.

Quantum Blackhole (in condensed matter): When materials are tuned to a critical point at absolute zero temperature, quantum effects dictate universal behavior in material properties. The presence of a singular point is revealed through its unusual electronic properties outside a new form of matter that hides the singularity.   enlarge image

Quantum

Quantum “Alchemy”: Formation of superconductivity in the vicinity of a singular critical point defies the conventional belief that turbulent electronic fluctuations are not beneficial to form the macroscopic quantum state. The unheralded source of superconductivity holds promise for the design of a room temperature superconductor.   enlarge image

LOS ALAMOS, N.M., November 24, 2008 — Laboratory researchers have posited an explanation for superconductivity that may open the door to the discovery of new, unconventional forms of superconductivity.

In a November 20 Nature letter, research led by Tuson Park and Joe D. Thompson describes a new explanation for superconductivity in non-traditional materials—one that describes a potentially new state of matter in which the superconducting material behaves simultaneously as a nonmagnetic material and a magnetic material.

Superconducting materials carry a current without resistance, usually when cooled to temperatures nearing the liquid point of helium (nearly 452 degrees below zero Fahrenheit). Superconductors are extremely important materials because they hold promise for carrying electricity from one place to another without current loss or providing indefinite electric storage capacity. However, the cost of cooling materials to such extremely low temperatures currently limits the practicality of superconductors. If superconductors could be designed to operate at temperatures closer to room temperature, the results would be revolutionary.

Traditional theories of superconductivity hold that electrons within certain nonmagnetic materials can pair up when jostled together by atomic vibrations known as phonons. In other words, phonons provide the “glue” that makes superconductivity possible.

Park and his colleagues now describe a different type of “glue” giving rise to superconducting behavior.

Park and his colleagues cooled a compound of Cerium, Rhodium and Indium to just above absolute zero, nearly minus 459 degrees Fahrenheit. At this temperature, the material exhibits superconducting behavior. However, they also subjected the crystal to pressure changes and a magnetic field to perturb the alignment of electrons within the material.

“We introduced very high quantum fluctuations in the material,” Park said. “In other words, we made the electrons like a traffic jam, where it would be very difficult for them to move.”

This electronic traffic jam would discourage electron pairing by phonons; nevertheless, the material continued to exhibit superconducting behavior.

Based on the material’s behavior under different pressures and temperatures, researchers believe that the material reaches a quantum critical point near absolute zero. At this quantum critical point, the material retained properties of a metal with highly ordered electrons and highly disordered ones—a previously undescribed state of matter.

Park and his colleagues believe that this quantum critical point provides a mechanism to pair electrons into a quantum state that gives rise to superconducting behavior. In other words, the research helps explain a mechanism for superconductivity without phonons.

“This quantum critical point could be analogous to a black hole,” said Park. “We can see what is happening at or near the event horizon—superconductivity—but we cannot yet see inside to understand why.”

A new mechanism for the electron-pairing glue that gives rise to superconductivity could allow researchers to design new materials that exhibit superconducting materials at higher temperatures, perhaps even opening the door to the “Holy Grail” of superconducting materials—one that works at room temperature.

Park’s colleagues include: Vladimir Sidorov, Filip Ronning, Jian-Xin Zhu, Yoshifumi Tokiwa, Hanoh Lee, Eric Bauer, Roman Movshovich, John Sarrao and Joe D. Thompson.

The research was supported by the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Science and Office of Basic Energy Science and funded in part by Los Alamos National Laboratory.

 

Los Alamos National Laboratory, a multidisciplinary research institution engaged in strategic science on behalf of national security, is operated by Los Alamos National Security, LLC, a team composed of Bechtel National, the University of California, The Babcock & Wilcox Company, and Washington Group International for the Department of Energy’s National Nuclear Security Administration.

Los Alamos enhances national security by ensuring the safety and reliability of the U.S. nuclear stockpile, developing technologies to reduce threats from weapons of mass destruction, and solving problems related to energy, environment, infrastructure, health, and global security concerns.

October 23, 2008

KurzweilAI News on Twitter

Filed under: et.al., Media, Science, Technology — Tags: , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 1:57 pm

From KurzweilAI.net — I often blog from the daily update offered by KurzweilAI, and today’s bit is about them. The Singularity Summit is coming up and KurzweilAI is using Twitter to provide tweets this coming Saturday.

KurzweilAI News now on Twitter, covering Singularity Summit
KurzweilAI.net, Oct. 23, 2008KurzweilAI News is now on Twitter as @KurzweilAINews, currently focused on the Singularity Summit, tweeting it live on Saturday Oct. 25.

To follow @KurzweilAINews, go to the Twitter login page (join, if new) and enter “follow KurzweilAINews” in the “What are you doing?” form. News tips always appreciated via email.

September 26, 2008

Hewlett-Packard Laboratories plans exascale data centers

From KurzweilAI.net — The latest in supercomputng news is Hewlett-Packard Laboratories working with the Georgia Institute of Technology is planning exascale data centers utilizing farms of petaflop computers.

HP Labs aims at exascale computing
EE Times, Sep. 19, 2008

Hewlett-Packard Laboratories and Georgia Institute of Technologyare planning to develop exascale datacenters with farms of petaflop-caliber computers to achieve 1,000-fold increases over the world’s fastest computers, using virtualized multi-core processors with special-purpose chips, like graphics accelerators.

Enhanced large-scale applications include climate modeling, biological simulations, drug discovery, national defense, energy assurance and advanced materials development.

An exaflop is 1000 petaflops or 1018 flops (floating point operations/seccond). As noted in Ray Kurzweil’s The Singularity is Near, estimates of humanbrain equivalence range from 1014(Moravec) to 1016(Kurzweil). – Ed.

 
Read Original Article>>

September 18, 2008

Convergence08 Unconference on Nano-Bio-Info-Cogno technologies

From KurzweilAI.net — The Convergence08 Unconference is scheduled for November 15-16 at the Computer History Museum in Mountain View, California. The “unconference” covers Nano-Bio-Info-Cogno (NBIC) technologies and their interactions.

The keynote speaker is Paul Saffo, the futurist.

Nano-Bio-Info-Cogno Revolutions to be Explored at Convergence08
KurzweilAI.net, Sep. 18, 2008

The Convergence08 Unconference on Nano-Bio-Info-Cogno (NBIC) technologies and their interactions will be held November 15-16, 2008, at the Computer History Museum in Mountain View, California, keynoted by futurist Paul Saffo.

It will feature debates on controversial NBIC topics including synthetic biology, longevity, and AI. The “unconference” format allows participants to customize the event interactively.

* Dr. Bruce Ames, biochemistry professor at UC Berkeley, founder of Juvenon
* Dr. Gregory Benford, physics professor at UC Irvine, founder of Genescient
* Denise Caruso, executive director of Hybrid Vigor Institute
* Dr. Aubrey de Grey, CSO and chair of Methuselah Foundation
* Dr. Ben Goertzel, CEO of Novamente, director of research at Singularity Institute
* Terry Grossman, MD, co-author, Fantastic Voyage
* Andrew Hessel, consulting biologist and author
* Dr. Chris Heward, president of Kronos Science Laboratories
* Dr. Peter Norvig, director of research at Google
* Dr. Steve Omohundro, founder and president of Self-Aware Systems
* Dr. Barney Pell, founder of Powerset, search strategist and evangelist at Microsoft

May 6, 2008

Reason mag interviews Peter Thiel

Here’s an interesting Reason interview with Peter Thiel, co-founder of PayPal and angel investor of Facebook. They discuss libertarianism, The Singularity and the ongoing progress of science.

From Ronald Baily’s introduction:

I first met Peter Thiel—co-founder of PayPal, angel investor in Facebook, founder of the hedge fund Clarium Capital Management, adviser to the Singularity Institute for Artificial Intelligence, and self-described libertarian—at a party in his San Francisco home last September. Perhaps 100 digerati wandered through Thiel’s sleek Marina District townhouse, chatting amiably over wine and canapés in rooms filled with up-to-the-minute abstract art.

The party launched the second annual Singularity Summit, held at the nearby Palace of Fine Arts during the ensuing two days. The Singularity, a term coined by the science fiction writer Vernor Vinge in 1983, refers to the eventual technological creation of smarter-than-human intelligence. Just as our model of physics breaks down when it tries to describe the center of a black hole, Vinge observed, our attempts to model the future break down when we try to foresee a world that contains smarter-than-human intelligences. The Singularity Institute takes it for granted that exponentially accelerating information technology will produce such artificial intelligences; its chief goal is to make sure they will be friendly to humans.

In 1987, while studying philosophy at Stanford, Thiel helped found the libertarian/conservative student newspaper The Stanford Review. As a law student at Stanford he was president of the university’s Federalist Society. After working briefly for the law firm Sullivan and Cromwell in New York, Thiel switched to trading derivatives for Credit Suisse Financial. In the mid-1990s, Thiel transformed himself into a venture capitalist and a serial entrepreneur. He returned to California, where he has backed a number of startups. In addition to PayPal and Facebook, Thiel has invested in the social networking site LinkedIn, the search engine company Powerset, and the Web security provider IronPort.

Thiel also joined the culture wars by co-authoring The Diversity Myth: Multiculturalism and the Politics of Intolerance at Stanford (1996), and was an executive producer for the 2005 feature film Thank You for Smoking, based on Christopher Buckley’s politically incorrect novel of the same name. Besides backing the Singularity Institute, Thiel pledged a $3.5 million matching grant in 2006 to the Methuselah Foundation to support its anti-aging research agenda.

I interviewed Thiel between sessions at the Singularity Summit.

April 15, 2008

Billionfold increase in technical capacity according to Kurzweil

Filed under: Science, Technology — Tags: , , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 2:21 pm

This sort of adjunct to Moore’s Law is a Ray Kurzweil specialty and a key component of the “singularity” concept. So far Ray’s predictions, if maybe a bit grandiose, have come to pass. I wouldn’t count this futurist out when contemplating the next few decades.

From KurzweilAI.net:

Making the World A Billion Times Better
Washington Post, April 13, 2008As powerful as information technologyis today, we will make another billion-fold increase in capability (for the same cost) over the next 25 years, says Ray Kurzweil.

“Only technology possesses the scale to address the major challenges — such as energy and the environment, disease and poverty — confronting society. That, at least, is the major conclusion of a panel, organized by the National Science Foundation and the National Academy of Engineering, on which I recently participated.”

 
Read Original Article>>

February 16, 2008

Vernor Vinge’s collected stories

Filed under: Arts, Media, Technology — Tags: , , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 7:06 pm

Right now I’m reading “The Collected Stories of Vernor Vinge.” He’s the sci-fi writer who pretty much coined the term “the Singularity” (see the wikipedia page here) to refer to a time when machines surpass humans in intelligence.

The concept was picked up and run with by Ray Kurzweil — yep, that Kurzweil — and much more information can be found over in my “Sites to See” links at KurzweilAI.net.

This collection is a great read. The stories range in publication date from 1965 to 2001, although most are late-60s to late-80s. Good stuff if you like speculative fiction.

Here’s an article by Vinge on what if the Singularity doesn’t come pass. It was first presented a year ago at Long Now Foundation Seminars About Long Term Thinking.

(Update: Another link of interest might be this chat between Vinge and Kurzweil on the Singularity)