[SL4] Parallelism in AI (WAS: _New Scientist_)

From: Eliezer S. Yudkowsky (sentience@pobox.com)
Date: Mon Jul 03 2000 - 10:37:36 MDT

Brian Atkins wrote:
> "Eliezer S. Yudkowsky" wrote:
> >
> > Artificial Intelligence at any given point. Also, I deleted a written
> > and edited section on distributed processing from "The Plan to
> > Singularity" because I decided that distributed AI wasn't workable.
> Is this due to bandwidth/latency issues? I mean, likely any real AI is
> going to be running on some kind of parallel machine with a distributed
> architecture like a Beowulf or the ASCI series of supercomputers, right?
> The only difference between those and computing over the Net is the
> internode link characteristics.

Once an AI gets up to the stage where it can handle the level of
code-rewriting ability needed to usefully absorb parallel processors -
which isn't *necessarily* all that much, comparatively speaking - we'll
have the option of running it on parallel processors. Before that
point, the AI will only be able to run on multiple processors to the
extent that the human programmers, i.e. me, can figure out cognitive
methods that employ parallelism. AI will be able to usefully run
distributed (as opposed to parallel) to the extent that multiple
instantiations of the AI can accomplish multiple tasks or subtasks and
then rendezvous, or to the extent that autonomous tasks can be farmed
out, calculated, and returned with reasonable latency.

In other words, a Beowulf network is useful in two ways. You can either
exploit it for truly parallel cognitive tasks (this might cover quite a
lot of territory), or you can run multiple instantiations of the AI. In
either case, though, it seems likely that any given instance of the AI
will maintain a serial, non-parallel, non-distributed ego. AI doesn't
become native to parallelism until it can understand its own code.
"Code", not "architecture" or "design" or "philosophy", but it does
still have to understand the code.

The original version of _Plan_ relied on the brute force of a planetary
distributed network to run the AI. I'd like to point out that this
isn't totally impossible, in the sense that if it was do-or-die we might
be able to do it. However, it added a rather significant obstacle, with
not much benefit over-and-above private supercomputers, so I took that

        sentience@pobox.com    Eliezer S. Yudkowsky
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