RE: Best locations for the Singularity Institute

From: Ben Goertzel (
Date: Sun Nov 17 2002 - 11:07:01 MST


Good news about the Sacramento sanctuary ;)

If I had an extra room in the house I would've offered it to you.... You're
always welcome to come stay with us (I'm now living in the DC metro area),
but we don't have an extra bedroom, and the three kids & three dogs tend to
cause a lot of commotion.

About the ideal location for SIAI. As you note at the end of your message,
the ideal location depends on the funding situation. I've often thought
about similar questions regarding the ideal location for a AGI research

For a research institute with a generous endowment, the ideal location is
somewhere away from major urban areas, where people can live and work
comfortably, reasonably inexpensively, and uninterruptably. You just
don't want to go *too* far out in the boondocks or stuff like computer
supplies become annoying to obtain, and you lose hi-bandwidth internet

New Mexico where I was living until recently fit that description pretty

Plenty of places in Australia fit the description well too, e.g. Western
Australia where I lived for a while. The downside of Oz however is that
real-time F2F interaction with outside intellectuals & scientists is harder.
It's a loooong flight back to the Us or Europe for a conference. So all in
all I'd vote for non-urban US, probably out West.

On the other hand, for an organization that needs to fundraise aggressively
to survive, it's important to be in an area near a good population of
donors. Because many donors prefer donating to local organizations. Near
Silicon Valley, New York, Boston or DC work for this purpose. (Or major
European cities.)

Yet you don't want to be too close to a big city because then it's so
expensive for your staff to live... plus a lot of time is wasted in big-city
commuting chaos.

So in this scenario, one arrives at the unexciting idea of locating in an
exurb of a major tech-hub city.

Sacramento seems to come close to this description, though I think it's a
bit too urban to be ideal. There are places within 30 miles of Sacramento
that would seem to me close to optimal.

-- Ben

> -----Original Message-----
> From: []On Behalf Of Eliezer
> S. Yudkowsky
> Sent: Sunday, November 17, 2002 12:28 PM
> To:
> Subject: Best locations for the Singularity Institute
> I recently received an offer of sanctuary (living space) in Sacramento,
> CA, starting in February. If nothing else turns up in the way of
> Fellowship renewal, I'll probably take up that offer, in order to
> conserve
> my resources as long as possible.
> However, one question that's been on my mind since even before
> then is the
> *ideal* location for the Singularity Institute. To give you an
> example of
> how I've been thinking, here's how Sacramento would scope out:
> 1) Most major advantage - within a 2-hour drive of Silicon Valley,
> including San Jose, San Francisco, and Palo Alto.
> 2) Cost of living - 2.3% higher than Atlanta.
> 3) Immediate safety, according to a preliminary online check - no
> earthquake problems, no recent civil unrest.
> 4) Long-term safety - not an A-list city for a smuggled nuke or other
> weapon of mass destruction, but as the capital city of a major state, not
> off the list entirely, either. Probably better than Atlanta, but nowhere
> near perfect. Inside the USA, which is probably not the safest place in
> the world right now.
> Australia, probably the most commonly mentioned candidate, has a low cost
> of living, is democratic, doesn't seem likely to be targeted by
> terrorists
> with weapons of mass destruction, would probably be the nucleus
> of revival
> after nuclear war, etc., but their immigration requirements seem very
> strict. It seems like the kind of place the Singularity Institute might
> want to move to after growing some, if we had sufficient funding, but not
> a good place to start.
> Undoubtedly the best location in a purely symbolic sense would be
> Antarctica, but the cost of living would be rather high.
> --
> Eliezer S. Yudkowsky
> Research Fellow, Singularity Institute for Artificial Intelligence

This archive was generated by hypermail 2.1.5 : Wed Jul 17 2013 - 04:00:41 MDT