RE: Journalism [ was: RE: Making HAL Your Pal]

From: Ben Goertzel (
Date: Tue Apr 24 2001 - 07:06:18 MDT

hi samantha...

> I am unclear about a couple of things regarding the state of WebMind
> though. It was not clear to me whether y'all are accepting donations
> now or whether that needs to wait until some of the upcoming legal stuff
> is out of the way. It also isn't fully clear to me if companies
> interested in some of your technology (super search, document
> categorization especially) should be talking with you and/or the
> trustees (or whatever the right term is) now or should also wait until
> some of the legal smoke clears. I am not sure what the legalities are
> or if there is enough of WebMind around and with enough time to pursue
> such possibilities presently.

The legal situation is complex, and yet, I have no choice but to keep moving
forward on all fronts.

After talking to our lawyer, a simple summary of the situation is this. We
don't ~need~ to wait until the legal smoke clears to do anything. However,
there is certainly a greater simplicity in doing so. The complexity of
doing one or another thing prior to the legal smoke clearing depends on what
the thing in question is.

So my attitude is: Pursue everything.

If someone wants to use our software, let's talk about it, and see how far
we can go.... Given the usual length of the sales cycle, chances are the
legal smoke will clear before anyone gets in a mood to write us a check
anyway. If our biggest problem is that we have eager customers who want to
buy stuff but don't know which legal entity to pay, well, that's a good
problem to have and I'm sure we can work through it.

If someone wants to donate money to a "real AI" nonprofit or invest money in
a Webmind Inc. successor company, let me know. We may not be able to
actually take in money until the legal situation is clearer, but, if we have
ready funding sources who can deposit $$ immediately when the legal
situation does become clear, we'll be in a vastly better position than if we
only start pursuing possibilities after the legal situation becomes clear.
For one thing, it's much easier for me to keep people working unpaid in the
interim, if there are solid sources of funding waiting in the wings for the
legal situation to clear up, than if they're just waiting for Godot ...

As for whether there is enough of Webmind around, this is an interesting
point. There is a fair amount of Webmind around in Brazil but that's
engineering staff not business staff. In terms of following up business
connections, it's basically me and Stephan at this point, with a little bit
of Andy (CEO of Webmind Inc. version 1) as necessary.

> > Anyway, it's clear from this conference and from Kurzweil's
> forthcoming book
> > that the Singularity concept is going to seep into the tech
> media over the
> > next couple years. I'll be curious to see what it turns into.
> It will go further than the tech media. It will soar into general
> awareness, for good or ill. Time to get those beneficial meme machines
> cranking.

General awareness is a slippery thing, though...

For instance, the Global Brain concept has been bouncing around for a while
in the tech media -- Wired has lampooned it a couple times ... but hasn't
really pervaded the general awareness. It's slowly getting there. In fact,
the mainstream tech gurus are slowly rediscovering it in all its aspects,
and taking credit for it, while largely ignoring the old-timers like Joel de
Rosnay and Val Turchin who wrote about it in the 70's.

Times are different now, and so I don't think the Singularity's rise to
popular awareness will be ~quite~ as slow as the Global Brain's. But I'm
just pointing you, you can't assume there will be a smooth or rapid movement
from awareness of the Sing. in a narrow technical/visionary community to a
broader awareness.


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