Singularity Summit 2009 (quick post)

Someone else may do a more formal announcement later, but since early registration expires on August 20th, I'm doing a quick heads-up to Less Wrong readers:

The Singularity Summit 2009 is in New York on Oct 3-4.

There are discounts for students, blog mentions, referrals, and registration before August 20th.

Speakers of note to rationalists will include Robin Hanson, Gary Drescher (author of Good and Real, one of the few master-level works of reductionism out there), and David Chalmers.  Also speaking will be Marcus Hutter and Juergen Schmidhuber, as well as some of the usual suspects:  Aubrey de Grey, Peter Thiel, Ben Goertzel, and Ray Kurzweil.

They're really trying to raise the intellectual level this year.

Singularity Summit 2009 home page, program, and registration.

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I hope the videos will be made available online promptly this year, not many months later like last year.

Has anyone considered extending an invitation to Raymond Smullyan, as, say, a guest of honor to the summit (if not having done so already). Living in New York State, he recently published an amusing and short literary book (at age 89). There aren't many students of A. Church (recall that Turing was one of them) still with us. With Aubrey de Grey on the roster covering issues of longevity and more, an appearance by Ray Smullyan, provided he is willing and able, may raise the level of your conference not only intellectually, but also in terms of humor, humanity and perspective. I've heard he also does magic tricks. Thoughts?

Or how about Ray Solomonoff? He doesn't live that far away (Boston I believe) and still gives talks from time to time.

We'll have a heck of a good LW meet-up there, also. (Eliezer may be too busy to attend, but there'll be loads of us who work with SIAI or others around existential risks, are in the area, and will be out and about meeting people.) I hope especially that those of you on the East Coast come. I want to meet you. The bay area already has great LW meet-ups often (though none the size of our Summit LW meet-up last October), and it would be really nice to have a similar gathering elsewhere, so that those of you who haven't been in large rationalists gatherings can see what the community is like face to face, and can figure out who you might want to stay in touch with.

Do check out the links. If you're short on money, I bet we can organize shared hotel rooms and carpooling with other LW-ers (which is more fun and more community anyhow). If you have friends who you've been wanting to get to engage with this community, you might consider inviting them, too.

Maybe I can drag my father along with me...

Actually, to kill a p-vampire you need to immerse it in running XYZ.

Oh, come on. David Chalmers is probably one of the greatest philosophers of our time, even if he is insane.

Out of curiosity, on what basis do you consider him a great philosopher, especially if you describe him as insane (and tend to disagree with his conclusions, and then necessarily, his reasoning)?

I ask because I'm trying to figure out the same thing about myself, i.e. intuitively I do think of him as a great philosopher, even though I disagree with so much of what he's said. Is it just a matter of how well-known or influential he is, or maybe even of how controversial he is?

If you can execute 9 out of 10 steps in reasoning correctly, then you may still be insane on the 10th step, but you are a much more interesting person to read than people who go wrong on step 2.

This exchange seems to me to deserve some form of promotion -- does LW have anything similar to the bestof subreddit?

Nah, garlic is for protecting against vampires. It'll be no use if this turns out to be the zombie-universe.

Sold, but I'm only carrying epiphenomenal cash on me. What exchange rate will you accept?

Hold on, let me check the financial bridging laws to find out how much epiphenomenal cash is required to add up to ten real dollars.

(Actually, it occurs to me that most modern money is epiphenomenal anyway - you can identify the belief in money, but not the money itself.)

For those who don't already know, the analogy to money is in fact used by Dennett (starting around 45 min).

So you haven't read his Sweet Dreams: Philosophical Obstacles to a Science of Consciousness?

Did I read that right? I can get a discount for pimping SS2009 on my blog? I put the banner up and get $50 toward registration fee even though only my mom and maybe a few others still read it (and I don't post frequently)?

ETA Well, maybe you guys can help ;-)

"They're really trying to raise the intellectual level this year" sounds like music to my ears.

I think Eliezer was just stating a fact? Or, impression.

Is there a webcast of the same for the people around the world?

In the past, videos were released in a few months after the summits. You can find links to the videos from this page.

Also having a webcast would be even better, though. Combine a webcast and, say, an IRC room, and you create a chance for the people online to discuss the speeches as they happen, fostering a community feel.

(In TransVision 06, we had that, and used a video projector to broadcast the IRC discussion to one of the walls in the room where the actual presentation was held. That led to some interactivity between the online participants and the people physical present, as comments originally made in IRC made their way to the physical world. We also included questions from online participants in the questions & answers sections of the talks.

Yeah, we had that at TransVision'06, but I wouldn't hold it as a high priority to have it at Singularity Summits.

I think the first and foremost goal of Singularity Summits needs to be outreach, i.e. getting smart people outside of this community to familiarize themselves with what we have to say. Things need to be optimized for that goal, giving a good impression to e.g. smart mainstream CEOs who aren't familiar with this stuff yet.

I would leave out webcast even for such a small reason that all of the participants-we-want-to-impress might not like the feeling of being continuously filmed while sitting in the audience. It easily makes people feel uncomfortable and not in control.

Another reason is that insofar as there are tradeoffs between what the organizers spend attention on and what not, webcast should be very low on the list of priorities. A live webcast can turn out to be quite a hassle to run smoothly.

In general, I get a negative vibe from people asking for webcast and videos becoming available sooner than later. I view these things as unnecessary luxuries-for-the-insiders, and would hope people in this community manage to instead focus on things that matter (like making the Summit a positive experience for first-timers to these topics). I doubt we'll lose important information if there's no webcast or if it takes a while for the videos to become available (personally, I haven't even bothered to watch the earlier videos, since I expect people to be saying the same things they have written online etc.).

Even if it was mostly a luxury-for-the-insiders - which I'm not convinced it'd necessarily have to be: the event has lots of big-name participants, and with a bit of advertising, you might get a big crowd of watchers who weren't usually into the Singularity - that doesn't make it worthless or something that doesn't matter. People are emotional creatures, and tend to invest more strongly into things or communities they have an emotional attachment to. Creating a feeling of community around the people following the webcast will help build those emotional bonds.

It's true that some of the audience members might not like being filmed, though. But that has an easy answer: film only the speeches, not the question & answer sessions.

The resources of the organisers are limited, true, and I agree that this isn't anywhere near the number one priority. It's up to them to determine whether or not they have the resources for it - but I do want them to be aware of the potential upsides of a webcast they might not have considered.

I view these things as unnecessary luxuries-for-the-insiders, and would hope people in this community manage to instead focus on things that matter (like making the Summit a positive experience for first-timers to these topics).

Having videos available might be a positive experience for first-timers to the website.

Yes webcast would be heaven; a chance to catch all the best at one place

Be careful not to make the webcast too good, singinst folks...