Insight – Innovation – Inspiration
I’m Steve Omohundro and I’m excited that there has been increasing interest in my work on positive intelligent systems. I recently did a TEDx talk in Estonia on “Smart Technology for the Greater Good” and a keynote talk at Oxford on “Autonomous Technology for the Greater Human Good”. I’ve been doing interviews with the media and James Barrat’s excellent upcoming book is partly based on my work. Many more of my talks and papers on positive technology are available at selfawaresystems.com.
Ever since childhood, I’ve wanted to understand how we use symbols to understand the world. This fascination led me to start a music synthesizer company and to study physics and mathematics as a young Stanford student. It led me to do a Ph.D. in physics at Berkeley on the structure of physical theories. And it led me to become a professor and research scientist studying natural and machine intelligence. My students, colleagues and I invented many machine learning and vision algorithms and built robots that learned to see and control themselves, read lips, parse grammars, and recognize shapes. But I’m really passionate about discovering new insights that lead to innovations that inspire and empower us.
Insight. Some colleagues (from FXPAL and elsewhere) and I are creating the “Center for the Study of Mind” in Palo Alto. We are looking at the general principles of intelligence which operate at every level of organization: single cells, ecosystems, immune systems, brains, social insects, organizations, social networks, and the emerging global brain. Principles of knowledge representation, learning, development, decision making, and communication apply at all levels and insights in one area illuminate the others. For example, the same principles underlie valuation in neuroeconomics, animal behavior, investment, reputation, and intellectual capital. Insights at one level transfer into insights at the others.
Innovation. Insight gains value when it is used to create innovations. I’m starting Omai Ventures to develop and license intelligent technologies for a variety of positive applications. I believe we’ve only begun to explore the tremendous potential for intelligent technologies. We’re working on a new model for computation, new kinds of programming and specification languages, new approaches to valuation and decision making, new ways to collaborate on ideas, and new kinds of financial transactions.
Inspiration. I believe that technology should serve to improve human lives. Improving capabilities and efficiency is important but I’m really passionate about what inspires and empowers us. Check out Jonah Sachs’ excellent video on “The Myth Gap” for insights into how Joseph Campbell’s “Hero’s Journey” might frame our positive integration of new technologies.
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