RE: Funding Projects WAS RE: Finding for SIAI

From: ben goertzel (
Date: Mon May 20 2002 - 10:09:28 MDT


Balancing one's efforts on fundraising with one's efforts on doing actual
work, is not an easy problem.

On the one hand, once one has substantial funding, one can get work done

On the other hand, the more of a working system one can demonstrate, or the
more of a detailed design one can describe (with explanations of why it can
do what one claims), the easier fundraising becomes.

For this reason, everyone pursuing stuff like this balances their time
between the two pursuits, and the optimal balance is not clear, so personal
preference plays a big role each person's decision.

You mention VC and angel investor funding, but these are for business
propositions; for building an AGI, in a down market, there is no way to
get significant business funding. In the height of the Net bubble it was
possible, because business investors were thinking long-term. Now, the
plausible sources of funding for AGI are private philanthropists and
government grants, basically.

Of course, both in a business and in a nonprofit context, the primary
source of funding leads is *personal contacts*. I bet that, within the
social circles of everyone on this list, there are loads of possible
funding sources. If anyone feels the inspiration, do some brainstorming in
this regard and then contact me, Eliezer or Peter ;> Eliezer is only
interested in philanthropic donations or research grants, whereas Peter and
I are interested in both these things, and commercial investments. I am
not sure what Peter's business model is; currently, in addition to our
general AGI work, my team is focusing on bioinformatic data analysis, an
area that is not so hot in the VC community this year, but that I feel will
bounce back in the next 12-24 months (the biotech market generally being

-- Ben G

-----Original Message-----
From: Justin Corwin []
Sent: Sunday, May 19, 2002 11:02 PM
Subject: Funding Projects WAS RE: Finding for SIAI

Ben, Eli

There are a couple others on this list with AGI or software projects in the
works, but these are the two that I'm aware of, and have researched a bit.

Now, the occasionally philosophic tussling between you two aside, you're
both rather close to each other in Goals, difficulties and so on.

So, my question is, what to do about money?

I have very limited experience in this arena. I've funded one project, and
had enough money to get it through initial stages, but the project itself
flopped for different reasons. Plus, we got very lucky, getting funded the
way we did. It nearly fell into our lap.

But it seems that funding such projects should be first priority. Because
money is power, and increased money leads to increased rate of development.
So if you blitz, get word and so on into the VC community, and out to Angel
investors, and stuff, and double your income, the net effect could be
greater than if you spent all that time working on more "AIish stuff".
Because the influx of money gets you increased equipment, staff, and
support. thus allowing you to work faster and better. (presumably)

This is a rather recent thought of mine, so excuse the "It's so obvious"
quality. It's why I'm spending more time improving my situation than on my
projects right now. Because if I can bootstrap myself into a decent
financial situation, I'll have more to work with. Previously, I've had
something of a bohemian meme running around my head, saying "money is bad,
productive work is work spent on a idealogically pure perspective"! The
problem is that whoring around for money first allows you to achieve the
actual goal faster, even if you lose the comfortable feeling of only
on Good things. And that's better.


Justin Corwin
"We can rebuild him, we have the technology, make him faster, stronger,
better than before..."
         ~If you can't attribute this, you're not nerdy enough

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