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Our Speaker Alex-Wissner Gross on

Posted by Maura Welch  February 27, 2014 11:18 AM

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Congratulations to Alex Wissner-Gross, our first speaker to land on the homepage of! 820,054 views and counting… That’s the population of Boston, Cambridge, and Somerville combined.

In November, Alex took to the TEDxBeaconStreet stage to discuss an innovative theory. He proposed a simple equation for intelligence, suggesting it is actually a force that attempts to maximize future possibilities. (Note: Good news for generalists??)

Even for non-physicists, this elegant thesis is digestible and contradicts the Hollywood portrayal of domineering artificial intelligence, from Kubrick’s HAL 9000 to contemporary tales like Eagle Eye and I, Robot.

Will Smith can rest easy, not having to defend humanity from domineering robots overlords, but instead let the machines calculate the most efficient means of earning money, moving supplies, maximizing outputs, among other tiresome tasks. Machines become the middle managers and laborers, allowing humans to spend more time doing the unquantifiable things that define our “human-ness”.

Perhaps our great feats will not be measured by our ability to build thinking machines, but our ability to free up our own human computational power to tackle more substantial endeavors–to continually create and evolve.

For those skeptical about the great power and great responsibility of intelligent machines, Alex projects that the development of this technology with be met with stricter regulations:

“Whenever we’ve introduced through our technological genius, systems that are more energetic than we are, faster than we are, larger than we are, more massive, we’ve always found the need to introduce regulatory apparatuses of various forms that enable us puny humans to manage these systems.”

Give a listen to our full interview from the TEDxBeaconStreet press room, covering thoughts ranging from the Singularity to Skynet’s marketing problems:

Follow Alex Wissner-Gross: @alexwg

Interviewers: @mjbrender @thecatybird

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TEDxBeaconStreet is a Greater Boston TEDx founded on the mission IDEAS IN ACTION, with speakers carefully curated for a free conference series: TEDxBeaconStreet and TEDxBeaconStreetYouth. Save the date for our next conference Nov. 16 and 17. More »

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