Saturday, June 15, 2013

Live Blogging the GF 2045 Conference

I'm going to try and live-blog the GF 2045 conference.  I may get tired or bored, or my battery might run out, and quit, but I'm going to give it a go.

Up now is Dmitry Itskov.  Slightly awkward Russian speaker.  Giving a straight up "The future will be Utopia" pitch.  No-one will die, everyone will be happy, we will all spend our time working on our spiritual growth, we'll be able to travel holographically everywhere.  My inner Burkean is screaming.

The main screen of the conference has an explicit road-map for building an avatar body for humans.  I'll try to post a snap.

Emphasizes the importance that humanity needs a spiritual revolution to make this work.  That's the part that worries me...

800 attendees at conference.  200 media folk from all over world.

Itskov has made it his personal mission to catalyze the creation of human avatars, hopes to reach out to politicians, scientists, business people, spiritual leaders, to assist/guide.  He decided he needed to do this following what he described as a spiritual transformation.

James Martin.

Next up is James Martin.

Going back to place the themes in the context of the industrial revolution - "almost no technology in the mid eighteenth century".  Massively fast exponential growth of economy for last 250 years.  Describing the 21st century as the make-or-break century with very dangerous things happening (eg climate change).  Many extreme paradigm shifts.

Describes 2045 as the post-human-brainmap phase.

Has a picture of his grandkids up - what kind of life will they have?  Emphasizing the importance of cultural/spiritual issues.

"We could see the birth of a global Renaissance or see a collapse into extreme chaos.  Or both"

Slide on the Anthropocene with all the major environmental issues: climate, unsustainable footprint, human disregard for biodiversity, climate tipping point (where the climate becomes totally out of control).  "The Anthropocene is self destructive".  I'm with him there.

World has 17,300 nuclear weapons.  If used, more likely terrorists than states.  Believes nuclear use much more probable now than during cold war.

No other intelligent life within 20 trillion miles.  "We are absolutely alone."  "Star Trek is absolute nonsense".  Has a slide on overshoot - human footprint almost 2 earths, stats on topsoil loss, desertification, etc.  "In the next 8 years the number of cars on the planet will double".  Sounds about right.

Although population going to 10 billion, fertility rate going down due to female education/emancipation.

Overall, this is a pretty decent overview summary to the f**d up global environmental situation.  I've noticed a couple of minor errors (like using the Moore tornado as an example of climate change), but generally it's pretty good.

"Before 2045, unless we take coordinated action the climate will be irreversibly damaged".

"Before 2045, unless we take coordinated action, there will massive global famine".

Has a picture of desertification, and then switches to a massive hydroponic greenhouse in an arid landscape in India - message is that technology can solve this problem.

Now talking about water - we are using drawing down ground-water unsustainably and will have major problems before 2045 in many places.  "A huge crunch coming".

"What are the solutions?"  "Some of the solutions are easy, some are extremely difficult".

Picture of African tribesmen with phones.  "Everyone trying to catch up with the Americans."  Whole planet is going to be wired.

"Eco-affluence" - an affluent joyous life that doesn't damage the environment.  Eventually, all economic growth must be eco-affluent.

Shout out to Hansen and 350ppm.  Realistically, we cannot get back there.  530ppm by 2045.  He is proposing we move into massive biodomes protected from the climate!!!!  Holy shit.  "Very different world"

"Need radically different energy sources"  Is pissing on large-scale fusion research.  Need radically better smaller fusion reactors.

Cows are second worst contributor to global warming after coal (methane).  Need way fewer cows. (Not sure about this).

"If we don't make very large scale changes very quickly, the future will be Darwinian".

Argues that China's leaders are brilliant and planning for this future.  Survivors of the Darwinian phase : China, USA, India, Russia.  "Let me say something far more politically incorrect - most of the survivors will be multi-national corporations."

Lack of ethics of corporations: clean coal PR as an example.  Coal plants kill hundreds of thousands of people prematurely every year.  Public is ignorant and so politicians are ignorant.  Corporations understand problem but wrong action is profitable, so lots of wrong actions - slide of cutting down 500 year old trees in Africa.

Argues that Patagonia, Canada, Scandinavia will benefit from climate change and will have huge real estate booms.  Enclosed cities to cope with the security problems that we know we are going to have.

Now talking about autonomous cars - climate change cities will be designed for them.  Population will move to enclosed cities, increasingly large nature reserves outside (he has pretty pictures of flowers and birds but not clear how that would look with 530pmm+).

Argues there will be huge slums outside the enclosed cities - two economies side-by-side.

Now talking about future of computing.  Yottascale computing.  Will be critical to managing the anthropocene ecosystem which will be heavily instrumented.

Now talking about applications of AI for surveillance.  Views very similar to mine.  "Most artificial intelligence will be nothing like human intelligence".  Avalanche of new technologies.

"How on earth will ordinary people manage?"  Doesn't answer his own question.

The technocracy will be 1% of the public - akin to aristocracy of old.

"By 2030, 80% of all human work can be done better and more reliably by machines."

Going to need a leisure revolution - is inevitable.  Doesn't address the massive cultural issues with that...

Now talking about transhumanism - modifying human beings.

Cyberwar will be of immense complexity - top people will be smarter than chess grandmasters.

Robots in war - war increasingly like a video-game, doesn't require human courage, but is an intellectual activity.

"We've reached a point in time where there will be either no war between high-tech nations, or no civilization."

Akop Nazaretyan

Now Akop Nazaretyan - Director of the Eurasian Center for Big History and System Forecasting.  Argues that all evolution of life/prehistory/history argues the same mega-trend - increase in universe's complexity.  New science of "Big History" addressing this.

Similar log plot to those Kurzweil shows accelerating complexity (starting from pre-Cambrian and going through industrial revolution).  Doesn't define "complexity" with any rigor.

A lot of his slides are in Russian, which isn't so easy to follow.  He's totally unpersuasive - weak speaker, even making allowances for the second language problem.

Argues that in the mid twenty-first century, curve of technological/complexity/progress goes vertical and changes come faster and faster.

Also alludes to the possibility of collapse of civilization.

"Only if we can take control of evolution of universe can it continue."

David Dubrovsky

David Dubrovsky (via video with translation due to health reasons).

"The ecological crisis shows that our consumer society is at a dead end.  The only way to fix the situation is to alter human nature - to change the average person to fix excessive consumerism, aggression to each other, excessive egotism".  Probably only two options - mess with the genome, or move people to avatars/synthetic systems.  First path is much riskier - hard to mess with genome.

Argues that not only is the second path less risky, but allows easier development of humanity, lower energy consumption (thus saving environment) etc.

"Our civilization is running out of time.  An anthropological crisis is coming."

Man, if this is what the leading techno-optimists have to say...  Jeez.  The message of all three speakers is roughly that we are all completely screwed unless we succeed in transforming ourselves into synthetic self-modifying form.

Complaining that politicians are not taking the problem seriously.  UN leadership lacking.

Peter Diamandis

Now Peter Diamandis.  Title is "Intelligent Self-Directed Evolution Guides Mankind's Metamorphosis Into An Immortal Planetary Meta-Intelligence".  "I am not one who believes in these dystopian futures"  Blaming the media!  Media peddles negative news and we are wired to pay attention to that.  Cheap argument IMO.  Believes technology can solve all our problems.  Presents stats of human progress over 20th century.

Innovation based on exchange of ideas - is accelerating as population gets healthier and more literate.

Discussing X-prize for literacy.  "I have you have a world that's literate, will be far more peaceful". Argues that when all 7 billion can contribute, progress will be even faster.

Argues that humanity is going to intellectually fuse into a composite meta-intelligence (much as single-celled organisms formed multi-celled organisms).  Then argues will look into the cosmos and see many other meta-intelligences (huge leap with no justification).  This will make for "extreme form of global peace".

Slide on "Backing up the Biosphere".  Wants to get dna sequence of every organism on Internet (and backed up off the planet).

Cofounder of Planetary Resources (company to access resources in space).  Stats that there are tons of asteroids.  Apparently carbonacious chondrite asteroids have significant organics (eg methane).  They hope to mine the asteroids.  I'd like to see the EROEI analysis for that...

He concluded with some questions, none of which really grabbed me.  That concludes the first session.


Michael R said...

"By 2030, 80% of all human work can be done better and more reliably by machines."

Just yesterday, I was struck when my shiny MacBook Pro with Retina display (tm) complained that I had typed "chmod" when I meant "chown". I was struck by the fact that I've been making exactly that same mistake for 30 years now.

Information technology really has not really advanced as much as people think it has, and the rate of advance is now noticeably slowing.

Nate H said...

Diamandis is a fool and doesn't inderstand that I'm most cases technology is just an energy enabler. Try taking away primary energy inputs and see how we transform.

brett said...

The eco-doom sure is palatable when your worldview involves dispensing with the biosphere anyway