RE: Seed AI milestones (was: Microsoft aflare)

From: Ben Goertzel (
Date: Wed Feb 27 2002 - 09:51:09 MST


> Anyway, Ben uses the term "hard takeoff" to refer to what I would describe
> as the first or second epochs. I use "hard takeoff" in the sense that I
> believe is standard in the transhumanist community, to refer to
> events past
> the fifth or sixth epochs in various categories. This would seem
> to explain
> Ben's belief that I "underestimate" the amount of work involved
> in "getting
> to the Singularity from a hard takeoff".

Actually, I believe I always used the term "hard takeoff" to refer to a
stage at which self-modification occurs without significant human

This is not a term I've ever used in my published work or technical
documents (so far as I recall); I've only used it in informal e-mails.

My impression from our e-mails 18 months ago or so was that you
underestimated the amount of work to be done to get from an initial
sort-of-generally-intelligent AI to a seed AI capable of hard takeoff. I
placed more focus than you on what I called the "soft takeoff" period
between the first generally intelligent system and the first system capable
of hard takeoff.

The "takeoff" verbal metaphor reminds one of a rocketship that is sitting in
one place until it suddenly blasts off. This is evocative but it pushes one
to ignore the fact that one will not really have, in this case, a period of
stationarity followed by a period of rapid progress; but there will be an
important intermediary period of less rapidly but still significantly
increasing intelligence, assisted significantly by humans.

Also, my impression from our e-mails 18 months ago or so was that you felt
self-modification should be incorporated very early in the process of
developing a seed AI. It seems to me that, at this point, your intuition
has shifted a little, and that you now feel there is more
pre-self-modification AI work to be done than you thought before.

Anyway, it's quite possible that these impressions of mine regarding your
intuition shifts are mistaken, as they are merely inductions of your
mind-state from your informal e-mail and in-person conversational statements

-- Ben

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