Re: AI timeframes

From: Thomas Buckner (
Date: Sat Apr 10 2004 - 17:20:00 MDT

--- "J. Andrew Rogers" <>
> On Apr 9, 2004, at 9:15 PM, Thomas Buckner wrote:
> > A likely 'Sputnik' source may be China...
> > "But what are China's chances of actually
> outpacing
> > Bill Gates and America's other techno-leaders in
> the
> > sprint toward next-generation wonders? Very good
> > indeed. (...) Not to mention artificial
> intelligence -
> > where one investor feels Guangzhou's Hua Ling
> Group
> > 'is a step ahead of foreign scientists.'"
> China is a very interesting case, but I think it
> unlikely for two
> reasons. (And I discount the opinion of an investor
> as to what
> constitutes "good AI" prima facie.)
> First, even though China has a large population at
> its disposal, it is
> extremely under-utilized from the standpoint of
> being a technological
> competitor such that it has, at best, the effective
> technological
> development footprint of something like a
> medium-sized European
> country. And it will be at least two decades before
> they really get
> past this. Very little of China can be categorized
> as "modern" in any
> normal sense of the word e.g. the tap water isn't
> safe to drink in the
> best parts of Beijing and donkey carts abound in
> much of the country.
> Second, while the Chinese do come up with some
> interesting ideas, they
> are famously poor at execution. I don't see this
> changing any time
> soon, as the problems with execution seem to be
> largely structural and
> systemic.
> The important issue that is covered in these two
> points is that by the
> time China could hope to really become a major
> player, I think most of
> us fully expect the game to already be over. Japan
> easily stands to be
> a more important player in any timeframe that
> matters.
> > They're making some first-rate electronics over
> there
> > (I have a couple of Chinese-made Behringer audio
> > devices, a small mixer and a digital guitar
> effects
> > box. They cost little and do things that used to
> > require a cart load of pedals & such).
> Behringer. The same Behringer that has been sued by
> just about
> everyone in the audio electronics industry for
> blatantly stealing
> designs and cloning other companies' circuit boards.
> The Behringer
> that is synonymous with third-rate quality in the
> audio electronics
> industry.
> Behringer is *not* what you want to use as a shining
> example of Chinese
> quality or ingenuity. But it does hint at another
> point: It is very
> slow and difficult to develop a world-class
> engineering culture, there
> are no shortcuts. Because of the likely overall
> nature and complexity
> of engineering a practical AGI, I find it highly
> improbable that it
> will be successfully developed in a country that
> does not have a
> pervasive native engineering culture (US, Japan, and
> a small subset of
> Europe). It could happen elsewhere, but the odds
> do not favor it.
> You need a broad, extremely capable, and highly
> experienced engineering
> team to have a good shot in implementation, which
> you can't just throw
> together in most parts of the world.
> Another tantalizing idea: Someone may have already
> solved AI, but did
> not have the engineering competence to realize it
> well enough to prove
> the concept. The algorithm space is very
> unforgiving of mediocre
> implementation...
> j. andrew rogers

Points taken ;^)
I don't put that much stock in 'one investor's
opinion' either, but I left that part in deliberately
for completeness. If some Nobel laureate said it, that
would be a very diff matter.
Didn't know about the Behringer lawsuits; not all that
surprised. The Chinese have a very different view of
intellectual property, which I fear could work to
their advantage if Western IP trends lead to
stagnating 'info-feudalism' where innovation is
stifled by copyright/patent trench warfare. (Way to
mix historical metaphors!) As for me, I can't afford
the really good equipment, alas.
Maybe the game will be over quickly; I do not let
myself hope too much. There seem to be so many ways
for dumb humans to stooge things up.


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