Singularity News

Saturday, September 08, 2007

Singularity, Inc.

There is a big change at this year’s Singularity Summit as opposed to the inaugural event last year at Stanford. Besides charging $50 to get in, the event has stretched to two full days, from one jam-packed day last year. The addition of that second day has brought about a profound shift in the agenda – the inclusion of speakers from many corporations pursing Singularity enabling technologies.

At last year’s event, the theorist presentations outnumbered the corporations’ 10-4. And the 4 were Ray Kurzweil, K. Eric Drexler (father of nanotech), Steve Jurvetson (VC), and Peter Thiel (SIAI underwriter).

This time around, the ratio has shifted to 50% of the speakers. Representing or talking about their companies on stage this year are:

· Sam Adams (IBM Distinguished Engineer)

· Rodney Brooks (iRobot)

· Neil Jacobstein (CEO, Teknowledge)

· Steve Jurvetson (Partner at DFJ)

· Peter Norvig (Director of Research, Google)

· Stephen Omohundro (Founder, Self-Aware Systems)

· Barney Pell (CEO, Powerset)

· Peter Thiel (Clarium Capital)

· Peter Voss (CEO, Adaptive AI)

There was even a "special" post-lunch presentation by Artificial Development, Inc. one of the show's sponsors. The event also has to be more transparent regarding why these corporations have speaking slots. Powerset, for example, is funded by Peter Thiel.

I think this is an interesting shift, but I am not sure that the majority of the audience is along for the ride. I think this event is at a cross-roads this year. It will either evolve into a business-centric confab with big-thinker keynotes (which I think will happen) or it will morph into a think-fest retreat – a mini TED. Either way, I’m looking forward to seeing the evolution.


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