Re: [sl4] Google, NASA and Kurzweil to found "Singularity University"

From: Robin Lee Powell (
Date: Tue Feb 03 2009 - 01:12:52 MST

Apparently somewhat old news, although I hadn't heard of it either:


On Tue, Feb 03, 2009 at 09:55:21AM +0200, Aleksei Riikonen wrote:
> Does anyone have more information to provide on this:
> ***** start of copypaste *****
> Google and Nasa back new school for futurists
> Google and Nasa are throwing their weight behind a new school for
> futurists in Silicon Valley to prepare scientists for an era when
> machines become cleverer than people.
> The new institution, known as "Singularity University", is to be
> headed by Ray Kurzweil, whose predictions about the exponential pace
> of technological change have made him a controversial figure in
> technology circles.
> Google and Nasa's backing demonstrates the growing mainstream
> acceptance of Mr Kurzweil's views, which include a claim that before
> the middle of this century artificial intelligence will outstrip human
> beings, ushering in a new era of civilisation.
> To be housed at Nasa's Ames Research Center, a stone's-throw from the
> Googleplex, the Singularity University will offer courses on
> biotechnology, nano-technology and artificial intelligence.
> The so-called "singularity" is a theorised period of rapid
> technological progress in the near future. Mr Kurzweil, an American
> inventor, popularised the term in his 2005 book "The Singularity is
> Near".
> Proponents say that during the singularity, machines will be able to
> improve themselves using artificial intelligence and that
> smarter-than-human computers will solve problems including energy
> scarcity, climate change and hunger.
> Yet many critics call the singularity dangerous. Some worry that a
> malicious artificial intelligence might annihilate the human race.
> Mr Kurzweil said the university was launching now because many
> technologies were approaching a moment of radical advancement. "We're
> getting to the steep part of the curve," said Mr Kurzweil. "It's not
> just electronics and computers. It's any technology where we can
> measure the information content, like genetics."
> The school is backed by Larry Page, Google co-founder, and Peter
> Diamandis, chief executive of X-Prize, an organisation which provides
> grants to support technological change.
> "We are anchoring the university in what is in the lab today, with an
> understanding of what's in the realm of possibility in the future,"
> said Mr Diamandis, who will be vice-chancellor. "The day before
> something is truly a breakthrough, it's a crazy idea."
> Despite its title, the school will not be an accredited university.
> Instead, it will be modelled on the International Space University in
> Strasbourg, France, the interdisciplinary, multi-cultural school that
> Mr Diamandis helped establish in 1987.
> ***** end of copypaste *****
> --
> Aleksei Riikonen -

They say:  "The first AIs will be built by the military as weapons."
And I'm thinking:  "Does it even occur to you to try for something
other than the default outcome?" -- ***

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