Re: A fairly concrete path to the Singularity

From: Jimmy Wales (
Date: Thu Apr 26 2001 - 14:01:40 MDT

Ben Goertzel wrote:
> I believe that my Webmind AI Engine R&D team is 1, at most 2 years away from
> making the major leap forward needed to get from "pre AI" to "real AI." If
> we can get the cash from somewhere to keep paying ourselves that is... so
> that I can focus some of my time on building AI rather than begging for
> money ;>

I have a hard time grasping this. It seems very unlikely to me, because I don't
think we're close to the hardware required, for another 5-10 years at a _minimum_,
even with expensive supercomputers.

I see a more likely route with the accumulated expertise of the specialized AI teams
blossoming into increasingly intelligent programs until at some point (and not some
big "a ha" moment, either) we realize, hey, these things are as smart as us.

The reason is that these groups won't have to spend time begging for funding for
an unreachable (on current hardware) goal. They'll make money all the way up.

I think this should be your focus. Choose smaller problems that can be solved
on reasonable hardware today, problems that have economic value of some kind.
Even entertainment value is value that will attract ever increasing funds.

Practical steps of an appropriate size will get you where you want to be much
faster than beating your head against the wall trying to achieve the impossible.

If you think that hardware that is currently available to you is sufficiently
powerful enough for real AI, I hope you'll explain how this can be. This was
partly the point of my questions last week about Moravec and Kurzweil's estimates,
and James Rogers had a lot of important and interesting stuff to say about it.
None of that discussion, though, pointed me in the direction of thinking that
all that's needed is a couple of years of programming by 30 people.

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