The next speaker was Extropia DaSilva and she spoke with bullets of rapid-fire text-bytes...
Fortunately, she has published her high-octane talk here:
What interests me about DaSilva is that she does not profess to have a counterpart in RL. She seems to be "pure" that way and focused deeply on the fundamentally immersive properties of contemporary (but near-future) virtual space.
I believe she was very well-discpilined when it came to her subject and she had a very cyborgian (a better word than "cybernetic", in this context)approach to her dissemination of factioids, viral singularity memes and other digestable textlets of intellectual virtuosity.
What concerned me a little bit in her speech was the tone of it. On the one hand, she was very concerned with transcending the restrictive fundamentalism of the Bio-conservatives but I felt that she was using a disproportionate amount of Transhumanist Fundamentalism (Logical Positivism, Modernist Empirical Objectivism, Scientific Atheism) as her main resource.
Perhaps, I mis-read the tone behind her speech. It is possible that it was the research and not her emotions that pointed her in what appeared to be this direction.
For example, she speaks of "dogma (getting) in the way of knowledge" but the "scientific" knowledge she speaks of might not have any real certainty - whose only "evidence" is having its own paradigm shift every decade or so.
Any "evidence" might indeed be a trickster-ploy created by an intelligent simulation that constantly updates itself in realtime...This is Nick Bostrom's current theory from a few years ago that James Sleeper (aka. James Hughes) mentioned in his talk...
Perhaps even since the time of Copernicus, we have been living in an intelligent simulation that was designed to fool us into thinking we have finally found the answers to our coveted augmentation attempts.
As much as we feel seduced and compelled to do ascribe "objectivity" and "immutability" (my words, not hers) onto these empirical clues, one cannot base scientific certainty onto this "evidence" - only a leap of faith similar to those adopted by religious fundmentalists. I think if we can also confess that until there really is any "objective" evidence pointing us in the way of certainty, then we must also be open to the idea that we are people of faith (which is no less inspiring, I should add). It is even a leap of faith for us to assume that we have an active "control" over the technology and not some sort of "collaborative dialogue" with these apparently intelligent sub-atomic pixels and particles.
Is it not also a leap of faith to assume that God is merely a delusion and that the "Watchmaker" is as illusory as Santa Claus (who might indeed be an avatar in SL)?
All we can really agree on as Transhumanists is that we have (hopefully) non-dogmatic faith (but not absolute certainty) that Posthumanity and the Singularity will eventually emerge and I think we can work with religions of all non-dogmatic manifestations of established ritual-disciplines to find common ground...
In terms of semantics, I definitely agree with Extropia that the Singularity has been mis-interpreted as being "singular" for that would be dogmatic and working in a closed-system if only one aspect of transcendental innovation would be realized.
For the record, I am not at all in disagreement with Extropia.
My faith is her faith and I share the same frustration for others who enforce dogma upon us...I just hope that we can also be careful not to play the same game as the religious fundamentalists on only their terms... Fortunately for people like us, we have stated early on in our Transhumanist and Extropian manifestos that there is always room for our own improvement when it comes to understanding ourselves and our evolving place in the universe.
It is getting late for me in RL right now and my comments on James Sleeper's presentation is the longest in duration so I will need to conserve some energy (hours, days, weeks...) before I can begin to summarize his talk...