The Faces of Singularity: Are You Ready For The Human-Robot Merge?

We asked an assortment of the Singularity Summit's brilliant minds how they're looking forward to a life merged with artificial intelligence

The Singularity Summit drew a wide range of people from around the globe. There were technology companies hoping to spread brand recognition, quasi-spiritual sojourners looking for a new clue to the secret of immortality, and serious academics interested in cutting edge in artificial intelligence.

We asked them if they're looking forward to the Singularity's hypothesized robot takeover.

In addition to highlighting some of the people I met at the conference, I would also hope that you readers will take this opportunity yourselves to answer the questions I posed to the conference goers.

In the comment section, please feel free to share what excites you about the Singularity, what worries you about the coming man/machine merger, or any other opinions you might have about the ideas discussed in this, and previous, articles. I look forward to hearing what you all have to say.

Launch the gallery here, and see all of our coverage from the 2009 Singularity Summit here

Michael Pinckney, MD, "Life Style Potentiator" and CEO of Radical Human

What brings you to the Singularity Summit? "As a physician, I'm interested in how the Singularity will affect my patients." What about the Singularity are you looking forward to? "A heightened level of consciousness and conscientiousness. People having more resources to take care of themselves, being better able to do what Heidegger called "care for the project of being." Is there anything about the Singularity that worries you? "No, I'm more worried that human kind will squander this opportunity to reach their higher potential."

Sofya Yampolsky, Graduate Student at the New School

What about the Singularity are you looking forward to? "My personal dream is the day when I don't need a clunky device to link to ambient information. If I have a question, I want to be able to surf the air for it." Is there anything about the Singularity that worries you? "I'm worried that the things that make us human, the differences and suffering that makes great art, will be lost."

Lorenzo Albanello, researcher at the Strategies for Engineered Negligible Senescence Foundation

What brings you to the Singularity Summit? "I like hanging out with Singularity people, they're so open minded." What about the Singularity are you looking forward to? "I'm totally optimistic about it. I'm more optimistic than the Singularity Institute people! I'm excited for the increased lifespan." Is there anything about the Singularity that worries you? "No. We're totally surrounded by unfriendly governments, unfriendly religions, unfriendly viruses, why should we worry more about unfriendly machines? We're already doing this. I don't know why people are freaking out."

Gabrielle Ewall (right), Freshman at Cold Spring Harbor High School, Lisa Arden (left), Mom

What about the Singularity are you looking forward to? Gabrielle: "I don't view it as positive or negative. I'm just curious to see what happens."
Lisa: "Being of a certain age, I'm all over the body replacement thing." Is there anything about the Singularity that worries you? Gabrielle: "Just that we don't know what's going to happen. But that happens all the time."
Lisa: "Nope. Congress scares me more than this stuff."

John Durkin, Law Student

What about the Singularity are you looking forward to? "I'm really interested in the concept of individuality and the legal ramifications of machines that claim subjectivity. I'd like to see how that resolves itself." Is there anything about the Singularity that worries you? "I don't think it will help the majority of people. It will benefit a few people, but the average person on the street will just experience economic Armageddon."

Suzanne Gildert, Quantum Physicist at the University of Birmingham, England

What brings you to the Singularity Summit? "A friend gave me a lot of sci-fi to read. Now, I'm a transhumanist." What about the Singularity are you looking forward to? "I'm more interested in the process of discovery along the way. I'm look forward to finding out what it means to be human, and what it means to be more than human." Is there anything about the Singularity that worries you? "I'm worried about making sure we have the right laws in place. The current legal system doesn't take into account if emulated personalities have rights."

Frazer Kirkman, Motivation and Relaxation Trainer

What about the Singularity are you looking forward to? "I think the ability to better observe the effects of our lifestyle choices, and the increased networking, will really improve people's lives." Is there anything about the Singularity that worries you? "No. With so many minds at this conference concerned and worrying about it, I think everything is going to be OK."