Singularity University Blog | Sam Zaid 07/23 – Lecture day @ SU!

August 5, 2009

Source: Singularity University Blog — Aug 5, 2009 | Singularity University staff

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Sam Zaid

GSP-09: Student’s Perspective, by Sam Zaid
(SU’s 2009 Graduate Studies Program)

Sam Zaid

SingularityU GSP 09

Track: Artificial Intelligence & Robotics

12:10AM – Just came back from our Group C Super Secret team meeting. Not that secret but here’s a shot of our secret boardroom!

6:00AM – Early morning start… Usually work on my startup Gazaro ( in the mornings between 5AM and 9AM.

7:00AM – Call on Amazon Mech Turk. Giving very interesting results for crowd-sourced AI… what’s that mean? Ask me. :)

2009-07-22 09-1.21.408:47AM – Shower! Run to class… :)

9:10AM – Made it to lecture and only 10 mins late. :) Talk is by Adam Cheyer, Co-founder & VP Engineering @ SIRI on Conversational Interfaces in AI Personal Assistants. Didn’t want to be late as was really looking forward to this talk… C’est la vie!

10:00AM – Sweet. Adam offered free alpha access to Siri. Just emailed for my invite!

10:02AM – Take away => AGI is hard. Knowledge engines the next big wave in AI. We are nowhere near that BUT we can build common sense knowledge systems in the next 5-15 years through *deep* integration of multiple machine learning disciplines. Data gets us remarkably far today.

10:05AM – Bagel with cream cheese. Helps when you skip breakfast!

10:14AM – Tried to talk with Adam re. Gazaro but next lecture started too quickly! Talk is by Jonathan Koomy on Beating Energy Conservation and Efficiency. Interesting discussion on repealing the Law of Diminishing Returns and the “Lovins” tunnel through the cost barrier. Fascinating debate on whether *behavioral change* or *technology* will yield the biggest gains in energy and climate.

11:18AM – Shai is really challenging Jonathan on pretty much everything! Very entertaining. Speakers should definitely bone up on their physics => we can use as much solar energy as we want without increasing the entropy of our system!

11:32AM Bob Metcalfe says as energy comes down, we’ll use way more of it in new and yet unimagined ways. Jonathan says that’s bullocks! Second law of thermodynamics and closed vs. open systems debate ensues…

11:36AM Take away => We really know how to do everything to cut our energy use by 80% in Palo Alto within 15 to 20 years. The technologies exist today! We just need to do things in elegant ways that affect tasks for real people!! We just need to do it.

11:47AM Next talk! How Future Studies Can Improve Your Life & Work by Jim Dator from the University of Hawaii! Interesting. Apparently Prediction, Forecasting, and Inventing are very different things… stay tuned!

11:59AM Answer = Do NOT Predict “THE Future”. Forecast “Alternate Futures”. Invent “Preferred Futures”. Yep, couldn’t do it justice in 140 chars… :)

12:01PM Interesting Thought Experiment => In 30-50 years, what part of your life experience will be (a) a continuation of things that have always existed in the past, (b) cycles that have existed in the past and may exist again in the future, and (c) novelties never before experienced by humanity? My answer = (a) 5%, (b) 5%, (c) 90%!

12:08PM Dator’s 2nd Law = “Any useful idea about the future should appear to be ridiculous today”

12:14PM Key to future studies and forecasting = theory and study of *social change*. Social theory underpinned by biology, environment, culture, technology, human actions.

12:20PM “We shape our tools and they shape us.” -Marshall McLuhan

12:21PM Man I’m writing a lot…!!

12:30PM Take away => Continued growth is only ONE predicted future but it underpins every assumption of the modern economy.

1:05PM Lunch at the NASA Tent for the Lunar Institute! Sounds exciting but the food was quite dull! :) Talked with Marty Tenenbaum, Chief Scientist at CollabRx. He educated me on personal molecular medicine… cool stuff!

2:10PM Joined Neil Jacobstein, Adam Chever, and John Smart to talk about how Siri works… interesting. I’m really curious to try it out. Been a big fan of CI for a while.

2:30PM And… Next lecture! Therapy Development in a Networked World by Marty Tenenbaum, Chief Scientist at CollabRx. Big statement = Marty believes the process of “medical guesswork” and clinical trials are fundamentally broken! CollabRx approach is to look at an individual patient on a molecular level, bring together scientists to investigate the causal factors driving their disease(s), and then give them existing approved drugs that treat those factors.

3:22PM Next lecture! Panel on “Innovating in Medicine”

3:25PM Jordan Schlain MD from Jordan talked about how for $700 a year, you can have a consultative doctor on call to help advise you on disease prevention and treatment.

3:36PM Daniel Riskin on Surgical Innovation. Over 20 years, moved from BIG surgery to minimally invasive operations. Back log of technologies over the past 10 years are ready to be applied to surgery. E.g MRI guided pathways.

3:47PM Christopher Longhurst, MD from Stanford Children’s Hospital. We kill 100,000 kids a year due to medical error. Even with EMR, can still have the same mortality rate – very much depends on the implementation! Doh!! Huge opportunity = AHRQ 2007 paper -> diagnosis errors cause large number of deaths.

3:51PM Stanford selected Google Health. LOL – how surprising…! :)

4:05PM Harvey Fishman, MD, PhD talk on Video Eyewear for Macular Degeneration. Very cool. SiteMate Lv920 = Heads-Up Display for low vision. Soon to look like regular glasses! Embeds image processing tech for contrast enhancement, color blindness compensation, and 20x zoom!

4:18PM Stephanie Weinstein, MD – Stanford Radiologist on the state-of-the-art in Radiology = Multi-row detector CT for 3D scans and virtual endoscopy and coronary imaging. Video:

4:42PM Medical Devices and Breakthrough Technologies by Asha Nayak,MD, PhD. Bathroom break + phone call! Sorry!! :)

5:12PM Surgeon in the Digital Age by Catherine Mohr, MD of Intuitive Surgical. Doctors as superheroes. Using IS robots, surgeons improve dexterity, move tremor free at the micro or nano-scale, have enhanced vision (e.g. infrared), improved knowledge, and better communication! IS releasing robots for teleproctoring a surgeon – and limitation is high-bandwidth video – other barrier is medical-legal implications.

5:28PM Integrative Medicine in Practice by Rachel Schneyer, LAc, MSc. Chinese Theory of Medicine says only three things modify our longevity: Nutrition = what we eat, Assimilation = how our body assimilates what we eat, and Breath = how we circulate air in our body. Superfoods = dark chocolate, goji berries, wheat grass, asparagus, brazil nuts, cranberry! Stress = “always feeling like there is something to do”.

5:47PM Structural Heart Disease and Cardiology 2020 by Yitzhack Shwartz. Best medicine = prevention. In the future, we’ll use genetic profiling for just-in-time prevention!

6:31PM NASA Technology Commercialization by Riddhi Partners. Interesting that NASA licenses pretty much everything! Looking forward to 2020 => Moore’s law is exhausted and there’ll be 60,000 sensors for every one person. Whoa.

6:53PM The New Reality – Living in Real-time by Pat Kennedy, OSIsoft. For those wondering what the hell is the Smart Grid… you should have been at the presentation! Without Smart Grid, you can’t sell solar energy back into the grid and can’t sell to your neighbor. HUGE amounts of data. Average power company collects 250,000 data points every 4 seconds!

7:17PM Space-Time Insight by Geo-Enterprise. Applications of Sensor Networks. Sensor Networks = Data Overload++. iPhone and GPhone for Augmented Reality as 4D information visualizer. Pretty cool examples for engineering inspection and locating restaurants in the Netherlands. Average age in the power industry = 58 years old! Talk about stagnant… that’s bound to change.

8:00PM Billion people on the line so we’re discussing how to get the wheels in motion. T-minus 1 week until we start on the path to positively effecting 10^9!

9:25PM Back at the lodge. Phew. Long day!

9:49PM Now… gotta check emails… probably have around 10^9 of them!