RE: Singularity Institute - update

From: James Rogers (
Date: Thu May 01 2003 - 12:02:54 MDT

From: Ramez Naam
> As I said, there are three major sources of funding out there:
> 1) Private industry (including private investors)
> 2) Government grants
> 3) Philanthropy (a tiny amount by comparison)

The *source* of the funding is largely immaterial. The *reason* they are
giving you the money is what matters. It is the reason that determines how
much you'll get, how long they will back you, and how much freedom you have
in spending it. The investors do not have to believe they are "funding AGI
research" for them to be willing to do so.

> Sure. But Jack Welch has a track record in business.
> Whether or not a business succeeds has to do with much much
> more than the technical merits of its products. If Jack
> Welch got involved with an AGI business, there would be good
> reason to believe that it would succeed, because he has
> experience in making other businesses succeed.

You are missing the point. The investors won't care if he succeeds at
producing an AGI, because that isn't why they are giving him their money.
Jack Welch knows how to manage money and manage businesses such that they
generate profit. His reputation in this regard is sufficient for people to
give him money no matter how ridiculous his sales pitch. People are betting
on a profitable investment conversion, not on his successfully producing an
AGI. An important distinction. He really could spend all that capital on
AGI research or none at all, and it wouldn't be of concern to the investors
generally speaking.

This was just an example intended to make a point, not necessarily an actual
suggestion of course.

> > It isn't
> > that difficult to obtain reputation/credentials on a
> > non-academic axis that can be converted into serious capital
> > for AGI,
> How would you do this without having the necessary capital to
> build an FAI in the first place?

It is easier and faster to build a reputation that is convertable into
capital in the business world than it is to make money directly.
Bootstrapping capital from nothing to amass a substantial amount of capital
is reliable, but slow and requires a lot of work. You'll find that many of
the people who amass substantial amounts of capital in relatively short
periods of time leverage reputation to get access to large quantities of
capital, short-circuiting the bootstrapping process. This comes with
certain limitations and probably involves having something more concrete in
mind than "AGI research", but it is actually a significant capital force
multiplier if you look at it as a function of time (something which is
assumed to be paramount here).

I would point out that the reputation they are leveraging ISN'T academic.


-James Rogers


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