Re: A fairly concrete path to the Singularity

From: Jimmy Wales (
Date: Thu Apr 26 2001 - 12:51:21 MDT

Ben Goertzel wrote:
> 1) Someone [perhaps Eli, perhaps little old me, perhaps both of us together,
> perhaps some unknown hacker from the barren plains of Tadzikistan] creates a
> fairly intelligent AI, one that can be taught, conversed with, etc.
> 2) This AI is taught about programming languages, is taught about algorithms
> and data structures, etc.
> 3) It begins by being able to write and optimize and rewrite simple programs
> 4) After it achieves a significant level of practical software engineering
> experience and mathematical and AI knowledge, it is able to begin improving
> itself ... at which point the hard takeoff begins.
> My intuition is that, even in this picture, the hard takeoff takes months or
> a few years, not minutes. But that's still pretty fast by the standards of
> human progress.

Presumably, this fairly intelligent AI will run on hardware that is affordable
to you and Eli and the great masses of AI researchers like you, which means
that it needs to be able to run on a cluster costing $100,000-$1,000,000.

If you get something like that working, you can almost certainly get major
funding to quickly put 1,000 of these in service, all communicating with each
other in a higher-bandwidth way than we humans can concretely imagine. That
is, you can more or less instantaneously communicate new research findings of
the group throughout the entire group.

Investment in this sort of thing is likely to be *enormous* in the coming years,
making this little old Internet bubble look quaint by comparison. As a businessman,
if I can buy 1,000 engineers who work 24x7 with a degree of communication among them
several orders of magnitude greater than a similarly-sized human staff, I can
make a LOT of money fast. I'll just have some subset of them work on writing
software that we can sell, or on redesign of manufacturing processes, etc.

I don't think it makes sense, economically speaking, to imagine some lone researcher
(or institute) somewhere will make the major leaps forward needed to get to strong
AI. Instead, in the years leading up to that, we'll see an ever increasing amount
of investment in it, in all kinds of companies and contexts. There are markets for
incresingly intelligent products and services of all kinds, all the way up to strong

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