Singularity Summit in NYC to Explore Historic Watson Victory

This Singularity Summit line-up this year features a mix of 25 speakers from numerous fields, with a central focus on robotics and artificial intelligence, in particular the victory of the IBM computer Watson in Jeopardy! this February. Inventor and award-winning author Ray Kurzweil will give the opening keynote on “From Eliza to Watson to Passing the Turing Test”. Registration for the Summit, which runs on October 15-16 at the 92Y in New York, is open to the public now.

The theme of the Summit this year is the Watson victory and future Watson applications, such as in medicine. Dan Cerutti, IBM’s VP of Commercialization for Watson, will give a talk on medical applications for Watson, and the closing keynote will be by Ken Jennings, who won 74 consecutive Jeopardy! matches only to lose to Watson in February. Watson won $1,000,000 in the contest and Jennings won $300,000, coming in second place. Jennings’ talk will be “The Human Brain in Jeopardy: Computers That “Think”.

The victory of Watson in Jeopardy! is a major milestone in the history of artificial intelligence, comparable to the victory of Deep Blue over Kasparov in 1997, or the completion of the DARPA Grand Challenge in 2005. During the Final Jeopardy round against Watson, when his defeat was certain, Jennings quipped “I for one welcome our new computer overlords” in his final answer.

Other luminaries in artificial intelligence and robotics will give talks, including Stephen Wolfram, developer of Wolfram Alpha, who share his thoughts on computation and the future of humanity. Dr. Robin Murphy will speak on her work in rescue robotics, robots used to search for victims buried under rubble in disasters. James McLurnkin will speak on “why a thousand robots are better than one”, covering his work in swarm robotics. Dileep George and Scott Brown of Vicarious will discuss their pursuit of higher artificial intelligence using the metaphor of the Wright brothers pursuing heavier-than-air flight.

Besides robotics and artificial intelligence, the Summit focuses on “big picture” questions such as the direction of the global economy, philosophy of mind, and the ethics of technological development. Leading economist Tyler Cowen will speak on the content of his recent book, The Great Stagnation, offering a perspective contrary to many in the community by arguing that innovation is slowing down rather than speeding up. Prominent skeptic Michael Shermer will discuss how economical and political systems need to improve along with improvements in science and technology. Sharon Bertsch McGrayne will discuss her book The Theory That Would Not Die, a history of the Bayesian revolution in statistics and philosophy of science.

The Summit will include a couple speakers focused on regenerative medicine and longevity, popular topics of discussion in the Singularity movement. Dr. Stephen Badylak, a pioneer in regenerative medicine, will speak on the bright future of the field. Sonia Arrison, whose new book 100 Plus recently reached the Washington Post bestsellers list, will talk about the implications of a future where people live much longer lives. Jaan Tallinn, co-founder of Skype, will discuss the challenge of balancing individual and collective good in a world of radical technological change.

Scientists from the MIT Media Lab will be in attendance, including Riley Crane and Alexander Wissner-Gross, who will discuss the science of human communication and emerging planetary intelligence networks respectively. Famed neuroscientist Christof Koch will speak on the neurobiology and mathematics of consciousness. TV personality Jason Silva will discuss the relationship between the Singularity movement and art, and the need for a narrative or story to share the vision of the Singularity with society. Singularity Institute research fellow Eliezer Yudkowsky will speak on open problems in friendly artificial intelligence.

“This year was huge for artificial intelligence,” explains Singularity Summit co-organizer Michael Anissimov. “This year’s Singularity Summit will gather many of the key figures in the Watson contest that millions of people saw on TV in February. As artificial intelligence exceeds human performance in domain after domain, important questions are being raised about the relationship between mankind and machines. This forum is the ideal place for brilliant minds to engage that discussion.”

Reminder: If you attending the Summit and tweeting from the conference, the hashtag for the conference will be #ss11.

See you in New York on the 14th!

The Singularity Summit Program

Day 1

7:00 AM – 8:00 AM Registration
8:00 AM – 8:10 AM Nathan Labenz: Welcome
8:10 AM – 9:00 AM Ray Kurzweil: “From Eliza to Watson to Passing the Turing Test”
9:00 AM – 9:30 AM Stephen Badylak: “Regenerative Medicine: Possibilities and Potential”
9:30 AM – 10:00 AM Sonia Arrison: “100 Plus: How the Coming Age of Longevity Will Change Everything, From Careers and Relationships to Family and Faith”
10:00 AM – 10:30 AM Coffee Break
10:30 AM – 11:15 PM Peter Thiel: “Back to the Future”
11:15 AM – 11:45 PM Robin Murphy
11:45 PM – 12:15 PM Michael Shermer: “Social Singularity: Transitioning from Civilization 1.0 to 2.0”
12:15 PM – 2:15 PM Lunch
2:15 PM – 2:45 PM Jason Silva: “The Undivided Mind” — Science and Imagination
2:45 PM – 3:30 PM Stephen Wolfram
3:30 PM – 4:00 PM James McLurkin
4:00 PM – 4:45 PM Christof Koch: “The Neurobiology and Mathematics of Consciousness”
4:45 PM – 5:15 PM Coffee Break
5:15 PM – 5:45 PM Casey Pieretti: “Better Than New – Better Than You”
5:45 PM – 6:15 PM Eliezer Yudkowsky: “Open Problems in Friendly Artificial Intelligence”
6:15 PM – 7:00 PM Max Tegmark: “The Future of Life: a Cosmic Perspective”
7:00 PM Closing

Day 2
8:00 AM – 8:30 AM Alexander Wissner-Gross: “Planetary-Scale Intelligence”
8:30 AM – 9:00 AM Sharon Bertsch McGrayne: “A History of Bayes’ Theorem”
9:00 AM – 9:30 AM David Brin: “So you want to make gods. Now why would that bother anybody?”
9:30 AM – 10:00 AM Coffee Break
10:00 AM – 10:45 AM Tyler Cowen: “The Great Stagnation”
10:45 AM – 11:15 AM Tyler Cowen and Michael Vassar Debate the Great Stagnation
11:15 AM – 11:45 PM John Mauldin
11:45 AM – 12:15 PM Riley Crane
12:15 PM – 2:15 PM Lunch
2:15 PM – 2:45 PM Dileep George & Scott Brown: “From Planes to Brains: Building AI the Wright Way”
2:45 PM – 3:15 PM Jaan Tallinn: “Balancing the Trichotomy: Individual vs. Society vs. Universe”
3:15 PM – 3:30 PM Break
3:30 PM – 4:15 PM Dan Cerutti: “Commercializing Watson”
4:15 PM – 5:00 PM Ken Jennings: “The Human Brain in Jeopardy: Computers That “Think”
5:00 PM Closing