It is the best of times. Anyone who complains about science not delivering it's promises simply doesn't comprehend how incredible this information age truly is: you can go to the mall RIGHT NOW and buy devices which would have reshaped the world ten years ago, are reshaping it today, and technology isn't slowing down - it's accelerating exponentially. There are incredible innovations just around the corner and that's the thinking behind the creation of Singularity University..
An advanced academic institution sponsored by leading lights including NASA and Google (so it couldn't sound smarter if Brainiac 5 traveled back in time to attend the opening ceremony). The "Singularity" is the idea of a future point where super-human intellects are created, turbo-boosting the already exponential rate of technological improvement and triggering a fundamental change in human society - after the Agricultural Revolution, and the Industrial Revolution, we would have the Intelligence Revolution
Real AI effects are closer than you might think, with entirely automated systems producing new scientific results and even holding patents on minor inventions. The key factor in singularity scenarios is the positive-feedback loop of self-improvement: once something is even slightly smarter than humanity, it can start to improve itself or design new intelligences faster than we can leading to an intelligence explosion designed by something that isn't us.
The Singularity University proposes to train people to deal with the accelerating evolution of technology, both in terms of understanding the directions and harnessing the potential of new interactions between branches of science like artificial intelligence, genetic engineering and nanotechnology.
Inventor and author Raymond Kurzweil is one of the forces behind SU, which we presume will have the most awesomely equipped pranks of all time ("Check it out, we replaced the Professor's chair with an adaptive holographic robot!"), and it isn't the only institutions he's helped found. There's also the Singularity Institute for Artificial Intelligence whose sole function is based on the exponential AI increases predicted. The idea is that the first AI created will have an enormous advantage over all that follow, upgrading itself at a rate they can never catch up on simply because it started first, so the Institute wants to work to create a benevolent AI to guard us against all that might follow.
Make no mistake: the AI race is on, and Raymond wants us to win.
Posted by Luke McKinney.