The Revolution Will Be Advertisement

More on augmented reality, from Jeff Bercovici at Forbes:

So far, Google has only scratched the surface of the advertising potential here. That makes sense: How many times in your life are you actually going to point your phone at an ad?
Google glasses could change all that. Now the user doesn’t have to point his phone at an ad to activate the AR [augmented reality] layer — he only has to look at it. Combine that with location data and all the other rich targeting information Google has at its disposal and you’re talking about potentially the most valuable advertising medium ever invented.
Imagine it: You’re walking home from work. You put on your Google Glasses to check your email and notice that the sushi place across the street, where you frequently go for takeout, is highlighted. In the window is a glowing icon that lets you know there’s a discount available. A tiny tilt of your head brings up the offer: 40% off any purchase plus free edamame. With a bit more tilting and nodding, you place your order. By the time you cross the street, it’s ready for you. Would you like to pay via Google Wallet?
You nod.
In unrelated news, Ben Goertzel thinks that corporations “are directly and clearly opposed to the Singularity.”

Ben Goertzel: “What you mean ‘we,’ human?”

[Continuing coverage of the 2010 H+ Summit at Harvard.]

Ben Goertzel (bio, slides) delivers the last talk of the day, rehashing lots of boilerplate stuff about artificial intelligence. Towards the end of the talk, he uses the word “ethics” for what I think must be the first time in the conference. The developments he’s talking about, he says, raise lots of important ethical questions, and those might be an interesting subject for another talk, but he doesn’t have time to go into them today. Nobody seems to.

He talks about the notion of a “global brain” and super-AIs that far surpass our own intelligence, and how the prospect is scary but not bad. An audience member shouts out, “Unless they decide to wipe us like parasites!” Someone else senses trouble and starts saying, “Don’t… don’t… don’t…” Goertzel bunts and says we’ll still be part of them, and someone else shouts out, “What you mean ‘we,’ human?” (I wonder how many in the room caught the Lone Ranger reference.)
That’s the close of the talks today, folks. There will be another post or two later tonight with more notes and thoughts on the conference, and then stay tuned for day two of the conference tomorrow.

Ben Goertzel, partying after the end of the first day of the conference.

Now you can ignore the Singularity while checking Facebook on your laptop

The Singularity is coming this summer to a new course available at Rutgers University. The instructors are father-son duo Ted and Ben Goertzel (respectively), and a cabal of guest speakers will make appearances, including James Hughes, Aubrey de Grey, and Robin Hanson, as well as a variety of other colorful characters, including one possibly from a cartoon. According to H+ Magazine, this is the first-ever accredited college course on the Singularity, although it’s certainly been at least a subject of discussion in college courses before.
Naturally enough, the course will be conducted entirely online, and will feature virtual classroom discussions. All well and appropriate, and I’m actually really thinking of registering, except you still have to “attend” classes two nights a week just like a regular class, and that’s a big time commitment. If only there were some way for me to absorb all that information without all the hassle.
Also of note: the official textbook for this first-ever accredited college course on the Singularity is Ray Kurzweil’s The Singularity Is Near. Which I have it on good it authority makes the course unserious and unacademic, so consider yourself warned.

“Pathways to Beneficial Artificial General Intelligence”

[Continuing coverage of the 2009 Singularity Summit.]

Ben Goertzel of Novamente is starting his talk, entitled “Pathways to Beneficial Artificial General Intelligence: Virtual Pets, Robot Children, Artificial Bioscientists, and Beyond.” (Abstract and bio available here.) He says when he gave a talk in 2006, it was called “Ten Years to a Positive Singularity.” Now he says he’s just got seven years left. There was a caveat, though—it was ten years if we really tried. Darn.

He’s outlining now the different ways that you could possibly achieve an artificial general intelligence (AGI). He says he’s taking an integrative approach, putting them all together. I hope he uses the word “synergy” soon, but he’s got long hair and jeans, so I’m guessing he’s not the Jack Donaghy type. He is taking the opportunity, though, to talk about various books he has written and hopes to write.

Now he’s explaining that there are many different kinds of memory—procedural, episodic, sensory, declarative, attentional/intentional. He just said it! We need synergy of all these different approaches! Ooh, and now he said cognitive synergy. We need to put them all in the same knowledge base and “let the nodes and links grow.” See for yourself:

Now he’s talking about the problem of natural language ambiguity. (I have a friend who would love this.) He’s showing a Second Life simulation of the problem. He’s spending quite a while on this — a weirdly low-level problem to focus on for such a high-level “summit” and in a talk with so elevated a title. This problem is A.I. 101 — big things they’ve been trying to achieve since the beginning but haven’t. Unless he’s going to present some new progress…

Goertzel’s giving a more lively (if much less informative) talk than the previous speakers. Riffing on Second Life. He’s showing two shapely women playing with a dog, and notes that both of the “women” are actually Brazilian programmers. He didn’t specify male, but I guess that’s implied.

Okay, he’s bring this back up to a high level by saying that these are all steps on the path to useful A.I. programs. He’s running through A.I. programs that have produced important findings in scientific research by processing data sets. Interesting and important results, but this is a strangely antiquated argument — the same one that led the whole A.I. community to shift focus toward practical rather than lofty aspirations a few decades ago. Using learning algorithms to process data sets is old news, baby. (For example, I’ve done this on my own site, ClassPoint, to infer ISBNs from school textbook listings that list only error-riddled and incomplete sets of titles, authors, and editions.)

Now he’s talking about ethical synergy. “Mature ethics requires ethical synergy.” Erm…

And he’s concluding by telling us about what we can do to usher in the Singularity. He says they need money and C++ programmers. Dear Lord, I hope the Singularity is not coded in C++. Any guesses on what programming language will finally usher about the next plane of humanity? I say Scheme. Or Javascript.