NY can now boast its own Meetup equivalent of Berkeley’s Singularity Institute, known as the Less Wrong group. Both groups’ focus is on the futurist mentality known as technological Singularity, which spawns from the theory created by Vernor Vinge, later popularized by Ray Kurzweil. This movement asserts that there is exponential growth in the powers of the computer which will eventually merge with humankind. Kurzweil has attracted many AI enthusiasts, and Gizmodo even hosted a party in his honor on the roof of Gawker’s SoHo office, though no one from Less Wrong was invited.
According to the BetaBeat, the Less Wrong group is considered more radical than Kurzweil and his followers, and currently holds weekly Tuesday meetups in addition to having about 300 people on its mailing list. The group describes itself as a ” forum on the art of human rationality.” The group is connected with the Singularity Institute in Berkeley, and both were co-founded by Eliezer Yudowsky, who attracted funding from Peter Thiel. Thiel has donated about $1.1 million to SIAI to date. SIAI was founded in 2000 to research “technological forecasting, human rationality, and architecting safe artificial intelligence.” BetaBeat noted that Less Wrong acts somewhat like the East Coast Bureau of the institution. Less Wrong is growing the fastest in NY and is planning events like a Humanist open mic night on the Lower East Side.
The members of Less Wrong may be viewed as radical to some, but they hope to be branded as a group of “rationalists,” rather than an apocalyptic cult. In fact, one of the missions of the group is to teach its socially awkward members how to interact with others and cope with their current situations.
William Eden, the founder of NY’s Less Wrong chapter, noted that the close-term goals of the group are to “maximize the moment.” He has since moved to Palo Alto for for a biofeedback health app named Azumio.