Artificial intelligence discussed at SL forum Thursday

(Image by Saad Faruque via Flickr.)
(Image by Saad Faruque via Flickr.)

The 2015 Terasem Annual Colloquium on the Law of Futuristic Persons, themed “Moral and Legal Imperatives for Sentient AI,” will take place in Second Life, on the Terasem region, on Thursday, December 10, 2015, with a stellar list of speakers. The four-hour event will start at 9 a.m., Pacific Time, noon Eastern.

According to organizers, it’s increasingly evident that humanity and technology will co-evolve, with organic life enhanced by synthetic biology and artificial intelligence, and artificial life powered by mind grafts from human uploads, blending more and more until it will be impossible — and pointless — to tell which is which. The first generations of futuristic persons — sentient artificial intelligences , human mind uploads, and hybrids — are coming, and it’s important to prepare the way.

Philosopher and bioethicist Susan Schneider, editor of “Science Fiction and Philosophy: From Time Travel to Superintelligence,” will address the question of whether sophisticated artificial intelligences can be conscious. “Can they be persons?” she asks. “Could someone really upload and survive the death of their brain, or would they just create a copy that is a distinct conscious being? I mull over the latest philosophical issues as well as introducing the hard problem of machine consciousness and a detectibility problem for determining whether superintelligence is conscious. I explain how these issues have legal significance.”

Current-generation virtual worlds like Second Life are, of course, very primitive compared with the future virtual worlds where many futuristic persons will live.  Next-generation platforms like Philip Rosedale’s High Fidelity and Linden Lab’s Project Sansar are coming in 2016 with support for immersive virtual reality headsets and interfaces, which is likely to trigger a new, massive wave of interest in virtual worlds.

“In the near future, virtual worlds will challenge the very notion of being a human being,” says keynote speaker Zoltan Istvan, the author of “The Transhumanist Wager” and a controversial politician who made waves with his candidacy to the US Presidency.

“Ideas like uploaded consciousness, virtual marriage, and whether we should seek to procreate in the virtual world are important but thorny ideas that need addressing,” he says. “In my speech, I will explore some of the most pressing issues of futurist transhuman persons and ask how current social institutions in the physical world will serve us in the virtual world. I will also address the moral landscape that might change from a limited physical world to a limitless virtual world, and how that might benefit and also challenge the human psyche. I endorse the virtual world and all that humanity might become in it, but I also recognize we must strive to tread carefully, as the virtual place we are entering is unlike any place we have ever been before.”

Other speakers are John Havens, author of Heartificial Intelligence, David Wood, editor of Anticipating Tomorrow’s Politics, and Stefano Vaj, author of Biopolitica. Il nuovo paradigma [English translation]. See here for the program and access coordinates.

Terasem is a 501c3 not-for-profit charity that promotes research, development and deployment of advanced emerging technologies including robotics, nanotechnology, and cyber-consciousness – the developing science of creating cybernetic copies of human beings able to live in robotic bodies, or as pure software uploads in and virtual reality worlds. Terasem was founded by Martine Rothblatt, a billionaire entrepreneur who sponsored visionary projects such as the Bina48 robot and the film “The Singularity is Near” inspired by Ray Kurzweil’s best-selling book.

Terasem has a long history of educational projects, workshops and conferences in Second Life. Each year, Terasem’s Second Life sim hosts a Workshop on Geoethical Nanotechnology and a Colloquium on the Law of Futuristic Persons The two events take place respectively on July 20, the anniversary of the first human landing on the Moon, and December 10, the International Human Rights Day. The genesis of the Colloquium was the historic Bina48 mock legal proceeding, convened at the 2003 International Bar Association Meeting in San Francisco, CA.

The Colloqium seeks to provide the public with informed perspectives regarding the legal rights and obligations of “futuristic persons” via virtual reality events with expert presentations and discussions. Terasem hopes to facilitate development of “a body of law covering the rights and obligations of entities that transcend, and yet encompass, conventional conceptions of humanness.”'
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