Re: Introducing myself

From: Eliezer S. Yudkowsky (
Date: Tue Apr 02 2002 - 07:27:40 MST

Ben Goertzel wrote:
> Actually, our estimate of the size of the problem of creating an AI peaked
> in mid-2000.
> Throughout 2001 we kept discovering how to reduce various mind functions to
> special cases of a moderately small set of mind functions, in what I think
> is a pragmatic way.

Okay, this sounds very exciting, but can you be more specific? Which mind
functions? What special cases did you reduce them to? Special cases of
what? Are you talking about a wide variety of high-level behaviors produced
by a bounded set of interdependent subsystems, or are you talking about
aspects of the subsystem design surprisingly turning out to be a set of
special cases rather than big general cases?

> Yes, I agree, creating Real AI is not easy. But this year it feels easier
> than last to me, based on my concrete work simplifying and systematizing the
> Novamente design.

Okay, it's easier for you to go down the current path you're going. Where
is that path leading? How far are you currently along that path? From what
I've seen so far you seem to think that this is the path leading directly to
Real AI. But I'm no longer sure what you mean by Real AI. Obviously Real
AI includes something that a human would intuitively recognize as a person,
but what else does it include for you? Does it include everything that I
would call "a functioning deliberative supersystem"? Because I would
consider that the first grand milestone, or epoch, not the last one.

I realize that I have no code, but I have put my design online and let
people judge it, with another major update coming Extremely Soon Now. I
haven't seen your design yet, I haven't seen your code, I haven't heard any
walkthrough "AI stories", and I haven't heard any reports of what it is
exactly that Webmind or Novamente do - except for text categorization and
stock market observation and so on, which you could be accomplishing in any
number of ways aside from what I would regard as "Real AI". Sure, having
led an AI project gives you a lot of credibility, but there still comes a
point when I want to have some specific knowledge to reason on when I'm
trying to figure out how far you've gotten. I can see that you've gotten
over the Deadly Sin of AI in which you only use one idea, but there are
other Deadly Sins.

> I understand that your opinions on this topic are strongly felt and have
> reasons underlying them. But the fact is, you have never led an
> all-in-one-place development team, *nor* a substantial broadly-distributed
> development team. This doesn't mean your intuitions are wrong, of course.
> But it does give me less inclination to accept them.

Ben, why would I rely only on my own intuitions in a case where it's easy to
just ask people? I've checked with people who have more software
development experience. I checked with *you*, remember? You said that
while you started Webmind Inc. believing in distributed development and had
people scattered all over the place, if you wanted to do it all over you'd
rather have had everyone in one place. If you've changed your mind since
then, I'll take that into consideration, but I will not actually change my
current plan, because all the *other* experienced software developers I've
talked to about this have said: "Yeah, if you want to take a serious shot
at this you'd better have full-time people on-location, it's not realistic

-- -- -- -- --
Eliezer S. Yudkowsky
Research Fellow, Singularity Institute for Artificial Intelligence

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