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Speaker Sign Up

Page history last edited by Eric Boyd 14 years, 6 months ago

Convergence08 Unconference Speaker Sign Up & Topic List


Please add your topic!


TO ADD YOUR TOPIC TO THIS LIST click on "[edit]" at the upper right of this page, or email James Clement. We really do encourage everyone attending to speak or lead a discussion on a topic of interest. All you need is a session title, your name, a link to your bio or website, and perhaps a picture of you.


Right before the event we'll put up a time-slot sign up list at the Computer History Museum. Time-slots will be based on a 50-minute turnover per room. You can sign up for more than one time slot, back-to-back, or at different times during the day on different subjects.


Audio/Video equipment: Rather than relying on us to provide audio/video equipment, please bring your own! Please ensure you have what you need to make your presentation.


We encourage you to talk about new, interesting ideas percolating in your head, projects you are involved in or thinking of starting, or other topics that would interest our savvy audience. If you are unsure about your subject matter, please feel free to run the idea by co-organizer James Clement





Website URL

PJ Manney

(2 talks)

Building empathy through Technology


Communicating Convergence for Civilians


Natasha Vita-More

H+ LAB. NBIC Design: from electronics and biomedia toward nano-bio-info-cogno, the development of new and varied life forms is moving toward a theory of organism / particle as media of radical life extension.  [Includes media and video clips.]  What is happening in the design labs?!  For more information go to H+Lab  


"I now see that the major shift in human evolution is from behaving like an animal struggling to survive to behaving like an animal choosing to evolve. In fact, in order to survive, man HAS to evolve. And to evolve, we need a new kind of thinking and a new kind of behaviour, a new ethic and a new morality." (Jonas Salk)



Patri Friedman 

Seasteading: Decentralized dynamic government on the ocean


Silke Fauve

Exploring the rights, responsibilities, and risks of individuals using drugs and supplements for self-empowerment


Art Morse

AI and Advanced Cognitive Systems

Discussion of the tools and metrics needed to accelerate AI.

Focus will be on the need for associative memory.



Mark Frischmuth

Open Source Politics - Collaborative Online Public Policy Formation


Presentation slides available at https://clearspace.democracylab.org/docs/DOC-1137.

Brad Templeton

How robocars can bring Moore's law to transport and save the planet


Max Marmer 

Youth Action Research Network - Young people (ages 15-25) learn how to think about future and forecasting, and work on projects with high impact by networking with like minded peers and seasoned professionals interested in mentoring the next generation. Started in conjunction with the Institute for the Future & Students at Lick-Wilmerding and Lowell High School.


 Steve Richfield

1.  Super-human congnative enhancement available right now, but not for everyone. Includes personal experience.

2.  The DrEliza.com concept. Is it a singularity? Includes demonstration.

3.  Processors that run ~10,000 times faster than Pentiums could now be built on the same fabrication equipment.

4.  A scanning ultraviolet fluorescence microscope, the key to the future of WBE, NN, AGI, etc.

5.  Is Reverse Reductio ad Absurdum the answer for world peace?

6.  Inadvertent technological censorship. It is ubiquitous.

mailto Steve . Richfield @ GMail . com


Eric Boyd

Meta-Civilization Tutorial: how to think about civilizations as if you'll outlive them all.  Understand, steer, optimize, engineer...



Kennita Watson

Roundtable discussion and brainstorming regarding cryonics acceptance:  What is needed more in the short-to-medium term -- incremental technological progress, improved PR and outreach, or something else?  What can we as individuals do?


Michael LaTorra &

James Hughes

Digital Serfs and Cyborg Buddhas

Description: Digital (or data) serfdom currently exists -- and is growing -- among high-tech workers. In a future of mind-uploading, the situation could worsen into a dystopian horror. The bright alternative to this vision of servitude in dark digital mills is life as an enhanced, empowered, free individual, the Cyborg Buddha, who enjoys both technological abundance and the time to enjoy it in contemplative bliss.


Sandra Haggard 

Nanotechnology:  What is its relationship to human ecology? 




Kattesh V.Katti

'Green Nanotechnology: An Imperative to Economy and Society


As the field of chemistry and chemical engineering  was developing right through the 18th century, we (or our ancestors) did not think about green approaches for the manufacture of various chemicals and finished products. The awareness for reducing the pollution from industries is a recent phenomenon and only now we have started thinking about green approaches to reduce pollution. Nanotechnology is rapidly evolving  in terms of its applications for societal benefits with huge economic potential. Therefore, this is the most appropriate time to think about green approaches to everything we do within the realms of nanotechnology. My discussions  address this pressing issue of promoting green approaches to nanotechnology so that we will begin to develop pollution free processes right from the point of inception of this emerging field.


Robin Gane-McCalla

An Attempt to Define Intelligence


Christine Peterson 

Open Source Sensing: Environmental & Security Monitoring Without Risk to Civil Liberties

Summary: Over the coming years, inexpensive and programmable sensors able to track down to the molecular level will become ubiquitous.  Bringing major environmental and security benefits, these devices also raise privacy and civil liberty concerns.   Rather than develop closed-source, proprietary sensing and recording devices, we could instead design, build, and operate devices...read more at OpenSourceSensing



Anders Sandberg

Cheap Superintelligence

While superintelligence is often regarded as something mysterious and remote, I claim that there are many "low hanging fruits" that are neither very mysterious nor remote. In particular I want to discuss how various forms of collective intelligence, "superknowledge" (smarts generated from massive databases rather than clever algorithms) and biological imitation can be used to amplify the abilities of existing intelligence.


Anders Sandberg

Whole Brain Emulation: challenges and timescales

WBE aims at achieving a one-to-one emulation of a (human) brain, something that would have a major impact on humanity. This is a very ambitious research goal with several potential stumbling blocks but it also represents a well-defined challenge. This talk will examine what we currently know about the major problems, technology requirements and ways of estimating how far we are from WBE.


Alvis Brigis

The Retro-Quantification Boom


Mike Cheponis

Diet Supplementation: Better Living Through Modern Biochemistry

I will present a short synopsis of my understanding of supplementation for maximizing longevity.  I am not a specialist, but do supplement; I will briefly comment on my personal experience.  Professionals, others who are supplementing, and those considering supplementation will benefit from this session.  This will be attendee-driven.


Shannon Friedman

Life Coaching: The convergence of psychology and and mind hacking.


 Brian Wang

Update and predictions on technology and science. What's been done, what's funded. Handicapping the possibilities.

Energy tech, nanotech and important small scale tech, AI/Quantum computing/Computing,

wildcards, biotech/regeneration/longevity/biomarkers ==> result for economy and people


Ben Goertzel

OpenCog: an open-source software project aimed at AGI at the human level and beyond.

After maybe 15-20 minutes of exposition on my part, the rest of this session will be an in-depth collaborative discussion on the OpenCog approach to AGI.  This is a serious project by AI professionals to engineer a thinking machine based on a systems theory of mind and ideas from computing and cognitive science.  You can find out more at opencog.org ... and also the OpenCogPrime Wikibook which outlines in detail an OpenCog-based thinking machine design. 


Ben Goertzel

The Ethics of Open-Source AGI

Open-sourcing powerful AGI software has obvious risks and obvious benefits.  I've thought about both a lot due to the launch of OpenCog, but haven't discussed these issues in depth very often.  I am curious to hear ideas and insights from others as well as to share some of my thoughts.  I'm particularly interested in what the "collective intelligence" paradigm has to add on this topic.


Chris Hibbert

Prediction Markets combine markets and collective wisdom to make quantitative predictions about many kinds of events.  I'll talk about how they work and when to make use of them.  I'll spend more time talking about accessible markets that you can use on the web (InTrade, IEM, Inkling, etc.)  than about Zocalo, the Open Source Prediction Market package I've been building.

Zocalo web site

Presentation Slides

Steve Omohundro

Cooperative Superintelligence: Can we design a roadmap to safely take us to a cooperative society with superintelligences? To answer this we must first understand the nature of conflict between superintelligences. This involves blending game theory and physics. We'll present an argument that even non-cooperative superintelligences can stably coexist and will be motivated to create a governmental infrastructure that ensures the peace. We consider ways to create such an infrastructure while avoiding conflict. It involves a sequence of provably limited and trustable systems, each of which is used to create the next.


Stuart LaForge 

Hitch your wagon to a star: a discussion on the energy crisis, evolution, and emergent technologies. 


Eric Baum

 How to create an understanding machine. I will describe my project in more detail than my SS08 talk, and solicit input.  I'm looking to hire a postdoc/Research Programmer to work on this project. 2 new technical papers have been posted at website on 11/14/08.


Miguel F. Aznar

Group brainstorming of what concepts in nanotech/biotech/cogtech/infotech should be taught in schools.  I will incorporate your ideas into my curriculum for teaching precocious high school students at UC Santa Cruz every summer.  Though I focus on nanotechnology with these students (most are academically at the top of their school) I have a free hand to incorporate whatever I think important.  How might you use these key concepts?


Rick Schwall

  Brainstorming on : Intelligence Explosion & Safety
Could an Intelligence Explosion be made provably safe? Arguably safe? A little bit safer? Safer than the status quo?


What do the most recent research results say about danger / safety? Is there a line of research that is being missed?


Please prepare in advance: bring cue cards with your key ideas. Bring your wild ideas (the ones that cause people to immediately blurt out, "That's CRAZY!").


In this session I will make a short presentation (5-10 minutes), and then it's time to brainstorm! (If you get irked by what somebody says and feel an urge to refute it, pick one of your cue cards instead.)


Joseph P Jackson III

Post Scarcity "Economics"/Agalmics


Our current economic operating system has not worked, is not working, and is not going to work because it is based on a flawed assumption of scarcity, an assumption that affects and infects our approach to every challenge we face--from finance to energy to healthcare.  Long before Vinge and Kurzweil popularized the Singularity or spoke of accelerating change, Buckminster Fuller recognized the phenomenon of ephemeralization, mankind's ability to always and increasingly do "more with less" by harnessing the energies of the universe for the purposes of life support.  He brought us the message that mankind had an option for success and dedicated his life to making the world work for 100% of humanity so that each person could enjoy complete economic and physical security without interfering with any other individual.  He reached the conclusion that the world had become to dangerous for anything other than Utopia and aksed us the question--Utopia or Oblivion?  Today, Bucky's message has been lost.  Transhumannism and the Singularity, concepts which should inspire the world, are instead either ignored, or when acknowledged, greeted with fear, scorn, ridicule (rapture of the nerds), or charges of elitism.  We leave ourselves open to these charges because we have not made the case for how emerging technologies will create abundance for all.  Indeed, there is a clear divide among futurist circles between those who recognize the significance of Free and Open Source Software as a prototype for a new model of technology governance configured around the rights of users--and those who think that the old methods based on secrecy, propreitary value extraction, and CONTROL of consumers, can safely continue.


We have entered a critical window where we must have a rapid rethink of the premises underlying the global political economy.   To that end, I am founding a journal of Post Scarcity Agalmics (since Economics is a failed art/science premised on scarcity).  Your participation is urgently needed.        



William Wiser
Longevity Problem Solving Group.  Come discuss your survival and well being related problems and we will try to help you solve them as a group.  Here the focus is on individual problems but nothing is to big or small to consider if it is sufficiently important to you.  I will facilitate the discussions.
William Wiser  Organizing Local Longevity Problem Solving and Discussion Groups.  Here we will brainstorm ideas for creating useful local groups (on a global scale) which further life extension objectives (health, finances, relationships, intelligence, politics, technology, etc.)  The emphasis will be starting actual groups but also thinking about what sorts of groups are useful.  http://wiserlejournal.blogspot.com 
 Leslie Seymour  

Is Digital LifeLog a Self?

LifeLog - An archive of all digitized content that a person consumes and produces.  A published Microsoft Internet technology roadmap placed LifeLog in the Web 4.0 time-frame.  Ideally, how much we will be able to derive later from LifeLog to capture / confirm the Self model at the psychological level?  How about the DNA / biomedical / cellular level?  What are the criteria of completeness at these levels? What role could LifeLog play in the process of determining consciousness, mind-uploading, brain modeling, cryogenics and other concepts of Transhumanism? What are the early stages of LifeLog commercialization road-map





 Peter Eckersley  What are the likely impact of legal and other regulatory institutions on the development and character of the technologies we are talking about here?  What kinds of laws might governments attempt to apply to nanotech or superintelligences?  Will those laws be constructive?  Will they be enforceable?  http://www.eff.org
Andrew Hessel

How to build an open source biotechnology company for $1000*.


Discussion about open source synthetic biology (iGEM, DIY Biology), front-line experience building an open therapuetics company, and strategies for building and funding biotechnology 2.0 ventures.

* Plus legal fees, of course!

Ralph Merkle and Robert Freitas

Diamond Mechanosynthesis.

This is a repeat of last year's presentation on diamond mechanosynthesis.



More recent developments: http://www.molecularassembler.com/Nanofactory/Media/PressReleaseAug08.htm

 Raymond McCauley  
Biotech Belle Epoque: 4 Things You Didn't Know About Genome Technology
A discussion of big picture ideas and surprising recent advances in genome science, DNA sequencing, and gene expression technologies. Keywords: biotechnology, life sciences, bionanotech
Matt B How 3D computer vision will change everything... and soon.  

This "talk" will take place for the full duration of the conference as an improvisational experiment in Augmented Social Cognition. Why? Because as audiences have begun using Twitter to share their thoughts during events, we all began accidentally participating in a qualitatively different kind of collective thinking which crudely emulates -- under conditions marked by sufficiently high message volumes -- a rudimentory sort of hive mind experience. To respect limited wiki space, and to participate, please read Connie: An Experiment In Augmented Social Cognition

Keith Henson

Developments this year in solar power satellites.

Power satellites are a 40-year-old concept of how to solve energy problems.  They have always failed to make economic sense due to the high cost of lifting parts with rockets or the long lead-time for space industry.  This year has seen the emergence of two transport concepts, pop up (with a small rocket) and push (with a laser) and the partial elevator where cargo is flown (using rockets) to the bottom of an elevator ending about an earth diameter above the surface.  Both methods appear to reduce the cost below $100/kg, which reduces the cost of power satellites to $800/kW and the cost of power to 1 cent per kWh (eventually).  Power at this cost provides the energy to make carbon neutral gasoline and diesel for about a dollar a gallon.  This year has also seen a proposal (by Charles Miller) to fund power satellites without using government money.



Eric Nehrlich

Organizational cognition.

I'm fascinated by the question of how an organizations knows what it knows, makes decisions and generally "thinks".  I'll talk briefly about different organizational structures (hierarchy, process-oriented, consensus-driven) and their implications for organizational response, then I'd be interested in hearing what others think. 

http://www.nehrlich.com/blog/2008/11/07/organizational-cognition/ is a first pass at some of these topics.
Michael Vassar

Decision Theory for Humans

I'd like to talk about some of the pitfalls that keep people who are trying to be more rational from succeeding as well as they could.  What do we do by default?  What should we do instead?  Why?




Amalie Sinclair

 "Touching the earth"

Policy making as platform for AGI

H+ the creation of a global society

Finding a working basis, re-use concept at Moffett Field

Max Sims 

Nanotech at the human scale

I'm very interested in talking to like minded people about what nanotech will bring at the human scale such as products and architecture. What novel forms and functions will this lead to.




Comments (1)

Natasha Vita-More said

at 8:19 am on Sep 24, 2008

Speaker put name in first cell rather than in separate row. To help speakers place information, I changed font of categories with underline, font color and ALL CAPS.

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