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Nosce Te Ipsum: Singularity Summit 2009 review

October 10, 2009

Last weekend I attended the 2009 Singularity Summit in Manhattan. In addition to meeting some really cool new friends interested in using convergent technology for the betterment of the world, I walked away from the summit with renewed perspective and enthusiasm for the directions and forms developing in our cultural evolution.

total recallAmong some of the speakers who impressed me most deeply were Anders Sandberg speaking about long term strategies for whole brain emulation, Brad Templeton speaking about the coming transportation revolution (smart cars that fully drive themselves—Templeton puts it at just over a decade away!), Peter Thiel’s commentary on the inborn human desire to make the world a good place (some really wonderful insights and thoughts came from Thiel during the panel discussion sessions—note that a man with a net worth of $1.3 billion will almost certainly have something interesting to say), and Aubrey de Grey speaking about time frames and initiatives for extending human longevity—perhaps indefinitely.

For me, the darling of the summit was the presentation on E-memory. If I tried to go into all of the details about what the E-memory movement represents and why it sparks something deep inside of me, I would likely be reduced to a gushing, babbling mess. Suffice for now to say that given the pivotal role of feedback systems and data capture in the biological evolution of human consciousness, a movement that proposes novel modalities for enhanced memory recording and feedback can’t NOT contribute to a flux in the net consciousness (and conscientiousness) of human beings at both the individual and the societal scale.

The E-memory presentation was made by Gary Wolf, one of the contributing editors for Wired magazine. Central to Wolf’s presentation was the Quantified Self initiative—a movement currently focused on helping to bring fitness and health e-tracking fully into the domain of  the popular consumer. Short of being an infomercial for the FitBit self tracking system, the description of the Quantified Self project definitely primed my imagination about the future of personal data collection and tracking. Just imagine, for example, a future commercial product that empowers the individual with comprehensive knowledge about their own genetic predispositions, detailed analysis of their fitness and sleep habits, a full databank of their medical history and care, and aided recollection of all pharmacological and food substances taken into the body. The technologies to do all of this are already available–it’s just a matter of convergence and refinement.

E-memory, however, encompasses far more than physical health. For more information about the E-memory revolution, I would recommend the following video presentation by Gordon Bell and Jim Gemmell, recorded two weeks ago at the Computer History Museum in Mountain View, California:

Also, for your own edification, check out the following links related to technologies aimed at knowing and measuring self:

Finally, here is a link to Bell and Gimmell’s new book, Total Recall: How the E-Memory Revolution Will Change Everything.

I’m already looking forward to the Singularity Summit 2010. Until then, live long and prosper!


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