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From: Rohit Khare (rohit@uci.edu)
Date: Tue Mar 21 2000 - 11:26:54 PST

Date: Mon, 20 Mar 2000 15:28:40 -0800 (PST)
From: Mike Fitzhugh <mike_fitzhugh@yahoo.com>
Subject: GeeK: CA - Will Spiritual Robots Replace Humanity by 2100? -
Stanford, 4/1

This symposium looks way too cool to pass up. But, unfortunately, I'm going to
be out of town. Hope someone finds it within their means to go. The line-up of
speakers and panelists is incredible:

                             A SYMPOSIUM AT STANFORD
                        -- free and open to the public --

                    Saturday, April 1, from 1 PM till 5:30 PM
         Teaching Center, Science and Engineering Quad (TCSEQ), room 200
       near the Math Corner, Sequoia Hall, and the Varian Physics Building

Primary speakers:

Ray Kurzweil (inventor of reading machine for the blind, electronic
keyboards, etc., and author of "The Age of Spiritual Machines")

Hans Moravec (founder of Carnegie-Mellon University's Robotics Institute,
and author of "Robot: Mere Machine to Transcendent Mind")

Bill Joy (co-founder of, and chief scientist at, SUN Microsystems)
John Holland (inventor of genetic algorithms, and artificial-life
 pioneer; professor of computer science and psychology at the U. of Michigan)

Panel members:

Ralph Merkle (well-known computer scientist and one of today's top figures
in the explosive field of nanotechnology)

Kevin Kelly (editor at "Wired" magazine and author of "Out of Control",
a study of bio-technological hybrids)

Frank Drake (distinguished radio-astronomer and head of the SETI
 Institute -- Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence)

 John Koza (inventor of genetic programming, a rapidly expanding branch of
artificial intelligence)

 Symposium organizer and panel moderator:

Douglas Hofstadter (professor of cognitive science at Indiana; author of
"G–del, Escher, Bach", "Fluid Concepts and Creative Analogies", etc.)

       In 1999, two distinguished computer scientists, Ray Kurzweil and Hans
 Moravec, came out independently with serious books that proclaimed that in
 the coming century, our own computational technology, marching to the
 exponential drum of Moore's Law and more general laws of bootstrapping,
 leapfrogging, positive-feedback progress, will outstrip us intellectually
 and spiritually, becoming not only deeply creative but deeply emotive, thus
 usurping from us humans our self-appointed position as "the highest product
 of evolution".
       These two books (and several others that appeared at about the same
 time) are not the works of crackpots; they have been reviewed at the
 highest levels of the nation's press, and often very favorably. But the
 scenarios they paint are surrealistic, science-fiction-like, and often
       According to Kurzweil and Moravec, today's human researchers, drawing
 on emerging research areas such as artificial life, artificial
 intelligence, nanotechnology, virtual reality, genetic algorithms, genetic
 programming, and optical, DNA, and quantum computing (as well as other
 areas that have not yet been dreamt of), are striving, perhaps unwittingly,
 to render themselves obsolete -- and in this strange endeavor, they are
 being aided and abetted by the very entities that would replace them (and
 you and me): superpowerful computers that are relentlessly becoming tinier
 and tinier and faster and faster, month after month after month.
       Where will it all lead? Will we soon pass the spiritual baton to
 software minds that will swim in virtual realities of a thousand sorts that
 we cannot even begin to imagine? Will uploading and downloading of full
 minds onto the Web become a commonplace? Will thinking take place at
 silicon speeds, millions of times greater than carbon speeds? Will our
 children -- or perhaps our grandchildren -- be the last generation to
 experience "the human condition"? Will immortality take over from
 mortality? Will personalities blur and merge and interpenetrate as the
 need for biological bodies and brains recedes into the past? What is to
       To treat these disorienting themes with the seriousness they deserve
 at the dawn of the new millennium, cognitive scientist Douglas Hofstadter
 has drawn together a blue-ribbon panel of experts in all the areas
 concerned, including the authors of the two books cited. On Saturday,
 April 1 (take the date as you will), three main speakers and five
 additional panelists will publicly discuss and debate what the
 computational and technological future holds for humanity. The forum will
 be held from 1 PM till 5:30 PM, and audience participation will be welcome
 in the final third of the program.

 Sponsoring agencies at Stanford:
     Symbolic Systems Program; Center for the Study of Language and
     Department of Computer Science; Department of Philosophy; Center for
     Computer-Assisted Research in the Humanities; Channel 51; GSB Futurist

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