Speaker: Paul Saffo

Paul Saffo from Stanford University is a forecaster and essayist. He explored AGI at the Singularity Summit 2007 in the context of popularization. Even as the public begins to join the AGI discussion, pessimism is popular right now. News reporting and commentary are lurid and pessimistic. Saffo suggested that what we need are positive and compelling visions of the future and AGI in popular fiction, but not by scientists turned writers. Poets, authors, artists, performance artists, and other creative individuals need to begin exploring the concept of AGI separately, just as previous technological breakthroughs have been explored in popular art.

In 1967 the poet Richard Brautigan self-published a book of poetry that included a positive vision of AGI. Entitled “All Watched Over by Machines of Loving Grace”, the poem is available here, and reprinted below:

I like to think (and
the sooner the better!)
of a cybernetic meadow
where mammals and computers
live together in mutually
programming harmony
like pure water
touching clear sky.

I like to think
      (right now, please!)
of a cybernetic forest
filled with pines and electronics
where deer stroll peacefully
past computers
as if they were flowers
with spinning blossoms.

I like to think
      (it has to be!)
of a cybernetic ecology
where we are free of our labors
and joined back to nature,
returned to our mammal
brothers and sisters,
and all watched over
by machines of loving grace.

Published by

Richard Leis

Richard Leis is a fiction writer and poet, with his first published poem forthcoming later in 2017 from Impossible Archetype. His essays about fairy tales and technology have been published on Tiny Donkey. Richard is also the Downlink Lead for the High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment (HiRISE) team at the University of Arizona. He monitors images of the Martian surface taken by the HiRISE camera located on board the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter in orbit around Mars and helps ensure they process successfully and are validated for quick release to the science community and public. Once upon a time, Richard wrote and edited the science and technology news and commentary website Frontier Channel, hosted the RADIO Frontier Channel podcast, and organized transhumanist clubs. Follow Richard on his website (richardleis.com), on Goodreads (richardleis), his Micro.blog (@richardleis), Twitter (@richardleisjr), and Facebook (richardleisjr).