Convergence08 had an amazing number of interesting people in attendance. No one person stood out as unusually impressive – it was more that the average was unusually high for a 300 person gathering. I’ll list many small ideas, which partly reflects the fact that I was trying to sample a wide enough variety of sessions that I didn’t manage to absorb any one presentation in depth.
Genescient is a new company whose founders include SF author Greg Benford. It has a strain of fruit flies bred for lifespans more than 4 times normal, and has used their DNA to identify substances that might improve human lifespan. It sounds like they will soon offer dietary supplements which have little risk and a hope of slowing down aging by some hard to predict (probably small) amount.
Advice from Eliezer Yudkowsky (responding to a concern that transhumanists have few children): don’t reproduce until you can code your child from scratch.
Several ideas from a session run by Anders Sandberg:
- AntiGroupware is designed to remove many social pressures from group decision-making
- Once it’s easy to make copies of people, political campaigns will be run by a large number of copies. [This assumes that democracy can attempt to survive – are copies going to be denied votes?]
- Politicians should be selected from losers of the game Diplomacy [It might be hard to keep them from deliberately losing, but with big incentives winning plus a low probability of any one loser becoming a politician, it might work.]
Ideas from a session run by Milton Huang:
- Keeping Skype video connections open for hours at a time changes remote interactions between two people in ways that make them seem very different from telephone conversations, and more like being physically together
- We should try to implement a way to transmit hugs remotely
- We might be able to make people (especially those with autistic tendencies) experience more empathy via an “empathy machine” that measures and reports on what others are feeling