Re: Why SIAI is a nonprofit

From: Ben Goertzel (
Date: Sat Oct 23 2004 - 16:47:41 MDT

Ralph -- to address your question about funding ...

The annual cost for a full-on Novamente AGI effort would be about a half million dollars.

But any amount of money would be helpful of course: e.g. we got a $10K investment in 2002 which we used to pay a young Brazilian AI programmer for 3/4 of a year.

Needless to say, I'd be happy to talk to your soon-to-be rich friend about possibilities :-)

-- Ben G

-----Original Message-----
From: Ralph Cerchione
Date: 10/23/04 4:57 pm
Subj: Re: Why SIAI is a nonprofit

"Ben Goertzel" <> wrote...
<Comments on Intelligenesis/Webmind snipped>
> Eli, I pretty much agree with all your comments -- except with the comment
> that Webmind Inc. got further than my current businesses before it failed.
> Webmind Inc. had more money and staff, based on venture funding, but it
> never profitable; whereas my current businesses are small but profitable,
> I'm not sure they're really less far along than Webmind Inc. by business
> standards.
> I'm not arguing that what I'm doing now with Novamente is a great strategy
> in general, and I'm not necessarily recommending it to others. I think
> a reasonably decent strategy for me and Novamente right now, but that's
> based on a host of particular contextual factors.
For those of us in business, those contextual factors can obviously be
all-important. For example, I was talking to some people in the company I'm
in about a very limited, non-obvious use of technology based on existing
facial recognition programs (whatever the state-of-the-art happens to be in
those areas). Though I do work in a computer-related field, developing AI is
definitely _not_ on our agenda or one of our areas of core competency. On
the other hand, we could conceivably be a market for certain kinds of
primitive-AI-related programming, or subcontract such work from other
enterprises. And in that fashion, we could help AI projects at the fringes.

Or AI projects being developed by for-profit enterprises, anyway.

> While I have not yet succeeded in getting rich nor in completing a
> superhuman AGI, I *am* succeeding in paying some clever folks to work on
> Novamente AGI system via my AI-based startup businesses. That was my
> which is valid whether or not I ever get rich or ever succeed in creating
> superhuman AGI (though I hope to do both!).
> I do think that others could follow this same sort of strategy. I believe
> for instance that James Rogers is doing so.
I think creating limited AI programs -- expert systems, voice recognition,
facial recognition, etc -- may be a good route for businesses and academics
who want to contribute to this field but don't have a clue where to begin on
the big issues and can't join an institution which does. That way, they
could at least be putting together useful products that are pointing in the
right direction, and thus proving the utility of such "blue-sky" research
and also helping to maintain a pool of talent that is working on problems
relevant to AI researchers.

On a related subject -- could anyone say what the approximate budget and/or
revenues are for any of these AI researching institutions or businesses? For
example, if someone had a lot of excess cash, what kind of contribution
would pay for the Singularity Institute's entire annual budget? I know
someone who may be coming into a considerable amount of money over the next
few years, and who has a notable interest in these matters.

> -- ben g

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