Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Apocalyptic AI - book presentation and discussion in Second Life, Tuesday March 30, 10am PST

UPDATED on March 31, 2010. As I expected, Robert gave a great presentation and answered many questions from the audience. Topics: Transhumanism as a modern Apocalyptic AI religion, anthropology and sociology of Second Life, future "apocalyptic" technologies such as mind uploading to virtual reality. I recorded full video and audio of the 30 min presentation:

Video: Apocalyptic AI - book presentation and discussion in Second Life, Tuesday March 30, 10am PST, on blip.tv

I could only record the presentation and not the very, very interesting questions and answers session which followed. I hope other participants could record also the Q/A.


Oxford University Press - Apocalyptic AI: Visions of Heaven in Robotics, Artificial Intelligence, and Virtual Reality, by Robert M. Geraci.

See my review of this excellent book. Robert has done a lot of field reconnaissance work behind transhumanist lines in Second Life. The book has a full report of Robert's field work and his interpretation of the spirit of transhumanism, and the spirit of virtual worlds. This book has started many interesting (and often vigorous) discussions in both transhumanist and Second Life interest groups.

Robert will come to Second Life for a book presentation and discussion on Tuesday March 30, at 10am PST. The talk will take place in the Singularity Club (which can be seen in the background of the picture) on the Transvision Nexus island. Please follow this SLURL to teleport, and bring interesting questions.

New World Notes - Oxford Press Book on Digital Age Spirituality Argues Second Life Provides Platform For Innovative Religious Thinking: The ultra-prestigious Oxford University just published a book devoted to theology in the digital age: Apocalyptic AI Visions of Heaven in Robotics, Artificial Intelligence, and Virtual Reality. It's written by Manhattan College professor Robert Geraci, known in Second Life as Soren Ferlinghetti (pictured), and unsurprisingly, a whole chapter is devoted to Second Life, and conversations with several well-known Extropians (sometimes called transhumanists), who often see Second Life as a means for transcending the human body.

From the publishers' site: "Description: Apocalyptic AI, the hope that we might one day upload our minds into machines or cyberspace and live forever, is a surprisingly wide-spread and influential idea, affecting everything from the world view of online gamers to government research funding and philosophical thought. In Apocalyptic AI, Robert Geraci offers the first serious account of this "cyber-theology" and the people who promote it.

Drawing on interviews with roboticists and AI researchers and with devotees of the online game Second Life, among others, Geraci illuminates the ideas of such advocates of Apocalyptic AI as Hans Moravec and Ray Kurzweil. He reveals that the rhetoric of Apocalyptic AI is strikingly similar to that of the apocalyptic traditions of Judaism and Christianity. In both systems, the believer is trapped in a dualistic universe and expects a resolution in which he or she will be translated to a transcendent new world and live forever in a glorified new body. Equally important, Geraci shows how this worldview shapes our culture. For instance, Apocalyptic AI has influenced funding agencies such as the National Science Foundation, helping to prioritize robotics and AI research. It has become the ideology of choice for online gamers, such as those involved in Second Life; it has had a profound impact on the study of the mind; and it has inspired scientists and theologians alike to wonder about the super robots of the future. Should we think of robots as persons? What kind of morality would intelligent robots espouse?

Apocalyptic AI has become a powerful force in modern culture. In this superb volume, Robert Geraci shines a light on this belief system, revealing what it is and how it is changing society.