The Singularity Controversy: 3 years later

May 9, 2016

Three years have passed since the publication of the volume of essays, The Singularity Hypotheses — a publication that was marked at the time by a London Futurists discussion event. During these three years, public awareness of the concepts of an intelligence explosion has grown sharply — fuelled, in part, by statements from luminaries such as Stephen Hawking and Elon Musk.

In this event, Amnon Eden, lead editor of Singularity Hypotheses, returns to London Futurists to provide an update on the controversies about the Singularity. Topics to be covered will include:

  • Luddites, Philistines, and Starry-Eyed: The War over Killer Robots
  • AI (Artificial Intelligence) vs. IA (Intelligence Augmentation)
  • “Technological Singularity”: A Definition, Sufficient and Necessary Conditions
  • Perennial Fallacies, Debunked and Re-debunked
  • Learning from the media storm.

About the speaker:

(Adapted from

Amnon H. Eden, PhD, is a computer scientist specializing in software design and architecture (PhD Tel Aviv), machine learning (MSc Cum Laude, Tel Aviv), and superintelligence. His work is concerned with the application of disruptive technologies and original thought to interdisciplinary questions in the theory and practice of software design and artificial intelligence.

During his academic career Amnon served as the associate editor of Minds and Machines, head teacher at the software engineering diploma programme in Tel Aviv College of Management, and held posts in Tel Aviv University, Israel Institute of Technology—Technion, Uppsala University, Concordia University, and the University of Essex. His publications appeared in the highest ranking outlet in Google Scholar’s Top Publications – Software Systems category and in two other among the top twenty outlets, as well as other scholarly journals, conferences, and professional magazines, including the recipient of ASE’s Most Influential Paper award in 2011 (cited 150 times). These include the book Codecharts about software modelling and visualization; an edited volume about superintelligence; and the Philosophy of Computer Science entry in Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy. His contributions include the metrics for measuring software flexibility, the paradigms of computer scienceLePUS3 (formerly LePUS): a visual object-oriented design description Language axiomatized in the first-order predicate logic, and the Two-Tier Programming Toolkit, a round-trip engineering tool.

Amnon has done substantial work on planning, evolving, and implementing the design and architecture of software platforms, infrastructure and applications, and consulting on the migration to object-oriented programming; as well as choosing, comparing, and implementing of machine learning algorithms. During his professional career he has worked as a programmer and software designer, consulting start-ups, multinationals and hedge funds in Tel Aviv, London and East Anglia, during which he had the pleasure of programming in object-oriented (C++, Java, Smalltalk, Eiffel), logic (PROLOG), functional (Scheme), imperative (C, Pascal, Basic, COBOL, Fortran), modular (Ada) and machine (various architectures) programming languages.

He was awarded a Master of Science in Computer Science (Cum Laude) for his research in machine learning, artificial intelligence and cognitive science in 1994 and a Doctorate in 2001 for his research in software design from the Department of Computer Science, Tel Aviv University.

Amnon enjoys science fiction, freethinking, and cooking. He lives with his son and partner in Layer de la Haye near Colchester in Essex, UK.

Sample feedback about Singularity Hypotheses:

(Excerpted from

A significant advance in singularity scholarship
— Ted Goertzel, Professor of Sociology, Rutgers University

The best introduction I know to some profound debates about our future as a species
— David Christian, Professor, Macquarie University, Sydney

A remarkably thorough survey of contemporary expert thinking concerning the technological singularity
— Aubrey de Grey, Institute for Ethics and Emerging Technologies & SENSFoundation

A valuable overview of the singularity debate
— Terry Winograd, Professor of Computer Science, Stanford University

Riveting. This is one of the more balanced and insightful commentaries on the pragmatics and the possibilities of the continuing co-evolution of computing and humanity.
— Grady Booch, Chief Scientist for Software Engineering at IBM Research and one of the original authors of the Unified Modeling Language

There’s so much hype and skepticism around the technological singularity that it’s difficult to find a balanced discussion. But this volume has done just that nicely. Not only do the essays present the case for and against the singularity, as well as its implications, but each essay is followed by a short critical response to keep the discussion honest at each stop. For anyone interested in the technological future, this is a unique and much-needed contribution to the field.
— Patrick Lin, Director, Ethics and Emerging Sciences Group, California Polytechnic State University, and Affiliate Scholar, Center for Internet and Society, Stanford Law School

Although the idea of machines becoming more intelligent than humans has long been a staple of science fiction, this possibility has only recently become the subject of serious thinking. This book is a timely collection of essays by many of the leading researchers who have thought most deeply about the ultimate implications of progress in artificial intelligence and the prospect of an intelligence explosion.
— Murray Patrick Shanahan, Professor of Cognitive Robotics, Department of Computing, Imperial College

Meeting logistics:

2pm-4pm, Saturday 14th May 2016.

Venue: Room TBA (To Be Announced), Birkbeck College, Torrington Square WC1E 7HX, London.

Room TBA is on the TBAth floor in the main Birkbeck College building, in Torrington Square (which is a pedestrian-only square). Torrington Square is about 10 minutes walk from either Russell Square or Goodge St tube stations.

Coffee and other light refreshments can be purchased from the Costa Coffee shop in the reception area of the building, either ahead of or after the meeting.

The event will be followed by a chance to continue the discussion in a nearby pub – The Marlborough Arms, 36 Torrington Place, London WC1E 7HJ.

Event hashtag:


Covering meeting costs:

A small fee (£5) is payable to attend this meetup. This fee covers room hire costs. Please pay in advance, online, after you RSVP.

This will be refunded if the meeting is cancelled or rearranged, or if the attendee cancels at least 3 days before the meetup.

Alternatively, if there are still seats available, payment can be made in cash at the door on the day. (Requesting payment in advance assists with accurate planning of the event.)

Journalists are welcome to attend the meeting free-of-charge – please contact the organiser, notifying us in advance of your plans to attend.

—Event Producer