Re: SOAPBOX: Funding for SIAI

From: Michael Anissimov (
Date: Sat May 03 2003 - 07:29:59 MDT

Hi Mike,

One of the problems is that while there are a lot of people who are willing
to read SIAI's work, and loosely agree with it, there are few willing to
contribute money to SIAI's mission, and even fewer willing to spend a
substantial amount of time working with other Singularitarians in coming up
with SIAI funding ideas and implementing them. I've given the question "how
can I maximize the Singularity Institute's financial resources?" a plenty of
thought over the past year, and my general conclusion is that efforts fall
into seven general categories:

1) Giving money yourself. I know some of us might be quite poor, but if
you have any disposable income at all, there's no place in the world where
it could used more effectively than as a contribution to SIAI. Giving to
SIAI can be a way to prove to yourself that you're serious about the
Singularity, and to set the psychological stage for encouraging others to

2) Spend money on pursuing Singularity-derived goals for yourself. Those
who plan to support the Singularity Institute long-term can make investments
in propelling their own lives forward as fast as possible, delegating more
and more personal time to the pursuit of the Singularity. Not sure if this
is always more valuable than #1, it probably depends on the person.

3) Write original Singularity-related literature to boost credibility and
awareness of the Singularity Institute's reasoning and mission. Describe
why Friendly AI is the most efficient and leveraged way to pursue good, etc.
Tyler Emerson (Anand) and Mitch Howe are both good examples, for instance.
A nice way to wrap up an introductory essay is a link to SIAI, or even an
implicit or explicit challenge to participate in the Singularity movement
somehow. I can't overemphasize the importance of original Singularity
literature; non-writers are effectively mute outside of mailing lists, which
cater to a very narrow interest group. (Eliezer wrote a nice webpage on
advice for Singularity writers, it's in the essays folder at

5) Mailing lists, forums, flyers, networking, speaking to people, giving
talks, that sort of thing.

6) Keep your eye out for ridiculously smart people that might be interested
in SIAI's work. Extremely smart people might be okay too. One of the
toughest obstacles on the road to the Singularity might be finding
researchers smart enough to actually understand how intelligence works and
implement it swiftly given resource, programming, and information

7) Admit to yourself that whatever pet project you were interested in before
you found out about the Singularity has probably been rendered a waste of
time! (And other sorts of rationality.)

That's all I can think of offhand. Another problem about producing money
through sheer intellect is that we aren't physically located near one
another, making collaboration more difficult, the fields we specialize in
tend to already have a high percentage of geniuses, and many of the very
enthusiastic people are even too young to have graduated college yet. I
can't easily imagine any money-making schemes with a high chance of success
that wouldn't require a large amount of initial investment in terms of time
and money. Can you? If no one can, then boring ol' writing and memetics
might seem to be the best way to pursue the Singularity at this moment.

Michael Anissimov

----- Original Message -----
From: "Mike Williams" <>
To: <>
Sent: Friday, May 02, 2003 11:46 PM
Subject: SOAPBOX: Funding for SIAI

> Since the message traffic is slow today, I'll take this opportunity to
> interject. There's an old saying: "If you're so smart, why ain't you
> rich?"
> From reading the SL4 message traffic, it's obvious that there are some
> pretty darned smart people in this membership. Much smarter than me, I'll
> freely admit. I can't help but think that if this group chose to focus
> attention on the problem of SIAI funding, that it could come up with a
> solution, so that Eliezer could stay focused on his work (and perhaps go
> far as to fund the projected personnel additions). Without knowing how
> the members here are already involved in the singularity effort, I realize
> may be completely out of line by making such a suggestion. And maybe
> there's another forum where that problem is already being addressed that
> not aware of. But if not, it seems that it'd be nice if we could help
> instead of just waiting for Eliezer to make the singularity a reality by
> himself. Any suggestions?
> Mike W.

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