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James Randi Headlines Singularity Summit

One of the world's most famous skeptics was the keynote speaker at this weekend's Singularity Summit at the Hyatt Regency in San Francisco.

The annual event draws curious minds from around the globe to discuss a number of topics related to technological singularity, the theoretical moment in the future when a computer or program achieves slightly-greater-than-human intelligence.

The mere fact that "The Amazing" James Randi, a former conjurer turned debunker, was willing to lend his credibility to the discussion is significant. In addition to poking holes in the acts of "psychics" and faith healers, he has spent his career combating pseudosciences like homeopathy and the antivaccination movement.

Singularity has become a popular topic of discussion recently at the Fort Lauderdale-based James Randi Educational Foundation.

Only a few years ago, such a conference would seem more like a sci-fi convention than a collection of scientists and great thinkers. But now, the idea of understanding and replicating something like "consciousness" piques the interest of hard-core skeptics like Randi, who is less than a year removed from his battle with cancer.

Randi's lecture, titled "Is there such a thing as scientific consensus?" came after a weekend of discussions on everything from "Darwinian Method" to "What cells can do that robots can't."

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Michael J. Mooney

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