Wednesday, August 18, 2010

ASIM 2010 Conference, Advancing Substrate-Independent Minds

About 30 persons attended the ASIM 2010 Conference, Advancing Substrate-Independent Minds, satellite to the Singularity Summit 2010, San Francisco, August 16-17th. Besides the participants in San Francisco, about 25 remote participants attended online in Teleplace. The two main organizers Randal A. Koene and Suzanne Gildert appear in the image above (right screen).

The interactive live streaming of the ASIM 2010 Conference has been covered by KurzweilAI News (TOP STORY of today): Advancing Substrate-Independent Minds conference to be streamed live. I think this has been a really excellent mixed-reality event (see below).

Previously the subject of the conference had been described by KurzweilAI as: "What might brains and minds look like in the future? It can be difficult to manage and organize ideas from many highly specialized fields of expertise that must necessarily converge to answer this intriguing question. Not only must one consider the areas of brain imaging, neuroscience, and cognitive psychology, but also artificial intelligence, nanotechnology, biotechnology, computational hardware architectures, and philosophy.

In the past, the transferal of minds into computer-based systems has been rather vaguely referred to as “uploading.” However, those hoping to advance this multidisciplinary field of research prefer to use the term Advancing Substrate Independent Minds (ASIM), to emphasize a more scientific, and less science-fiction approach to creating emulations of human brains in non-biological substrates. The term ASIM captures the fact that there are several ways in which hardware and software may be used to run algorithms that mimic the human brain, and that there are many different approaches that can be used to realize this end goal. On May 22, 2010, carboncopies was born in an effort to unite the disparate areas of research contributing to ASIM...

Note: the term ASIM provides some plausible deniability to serious scientists, which is very useful. But I am not a serious scientist, and I think I will continue to use the good old term Mind Uploading. It is deliciously retro with a flavor of the wild, visionary, irresponsible and unPC transhumanism of the 90s. I am persuaded that future science and technology will permit achieving our wildest dreams, including mind uploading. In the meantime, the ASIM project will contribute to advancing step by step and developing enabling technologies.

The ASIM 2010 Conference featured 7 talks followed by lively discussions:

ASIM 2010 Conference, Advancing Substrate-Independent Minds, Day 1, with pictures and videos

Introduction to Advancing Substrate-Independent Minds, by Randal A. Koene
Computational complexity, by Suzanne Gildert
Advanced Tools – Synthetic biology, Nanotechnology, etc., by Mark Hamalainen
Preservation & large-scale high-resolution structural analysis, by Ken Hayworth (talk given via Teleplace)

ASIM 2010 Conference, Advancing Substrate-Independent Minds, Day 2, with pictures and videos

Fundamental Issues – Resolution & Scale, “Me” Programs, by Randal A. Koene
Actionable Approaches – ASIM Now, by Peter Passaro (talk given via Teleplace)
ASIM in Context – Ongoing Advances in neuroprosthetics, AGI, Cyber-augmentation, embodiment, VR, etc., by Monica Anderson

Remote participants in Teleplace were able to follow the talks via interactive video streaming, ask questions to the speakers, and contribute to the discussion. Two speakers (Peter Passaro on Day 2 and Ken Hayworth on Day 1) gave their talks via Teleplace. After attending both days of the conference remotely in Teleplace, I am very happy with the performance of the Teleplace system as a means to open up conferences to a global remote audience in “mixed reality”, with crisp video and audio (after properly setting up the microphones) and deep interactivity for all participants. I have participated in ASIM 2010 from the middle of nowhere in Central Europe, with a 3G phone link to the Internet and a very weak signal (in other words, my current Internet connection is VERY slow). Even with this poor connection, I have been able to participate in ASIM 2010 without any problem. There are, of course, special problems to deal with in mixed reality events. For example, in the first half of Day 2 remote participants could not hear well the on-site participants far from the microphone. In future events, we will use cordless microphones to give to on-site participants when they want to say something. In this case, the problem was solved by asking on-site participants to go to the microphone to comment and ask questions. Mixed reality via the professional and social collaboration platform Teleplace permits merging on-site and remote participants in one virtual group, and it is the best way to open up a conference to remote participants that I have seen. The 2-way video and audio link enables each participant, on-site or remote, to be seen and heard by all other participants, on-site or remote.