Re: You might all be aware of this, but just in case ...

From: Timothy Jennings (
Date: Fri Oct 15 2004 - 09:44:49 MDT

Thanks Anne Marie

Just to clarify: that text was not mine - it was from the WTN X prize site.

I posted it because I imagined that the SIAI would be interested in
ensuring (as rapidly as possible) that the WTN people were educated to
ensure that:

1) there is not an X-prize encouraging an UNSAFE simple
brain-copy-upload style AI; and that concomitantly
2) there is an X-prize for the various concrete steps leading towards
SAFE friendly seed AI.

(An X-prize for actually achieving friendly seed AI would obviously
never need collection!)

Enjoyed your thoughts, although I'm not sure how much of that will
happen prior to singularity.


On Fri, 15 Oct 2004 04:12:49 -0700, Anne Marie Tobias <> wrote:
> Hi Tim,
> I would think one of the obvious next steps is to build autonomous
> robots that we can send into
> space. Capable of building more robots from native materials and
> programmed to build human
> habitats awaiting our arrival on the Moon, Mars, any number of moon
> belonging to the gas
> giants and large asteroids. These robots can also collect vital
> materials for human technology
> and bring them back to earth (as well as our or inhabited outposts.) The
> benefit of such economy,
> and the value of spreading terestrial life to as many places as
> possible, make this a high priority.
> The fact that brilliant and creative men can produce unprecedents
> results on a shoe string budget,
> indicates we should be empowering such men and women to explore, invent,
> and create from
> whole cloth new technology.
> One of the major problems encountered was Government interference and
> beaurocracy. We're
> a nation of inventors and tinkerers... we need to create an environment
> where our best and
> brightest can play, and make amazing things far all people.
> I can imagine dozens of possible prizes... cheap, renewable,
> nonpolluting energy. Of equal or
> even greater importance, small, light, nonpolluting, efficient means to
> store and transport said
> energy.
> Effective neural interfaces (you can't get better VR than directly
> driving the brain.) Better displays
> and immersive VR technology will get better fast, with or without an X
> Prize. Figure gaming and
> sexual interest will probably keep pushing the tech until it's gone as
> far as it can go.
> The cure for cancer is so close it's not even funny... as we unpeel the
> secrets of our genome, the
> cure for cancer and every other genetic ailment will naturally fall out.
> I'm not at all certain an X
> Prize there will make a difference.
> Addressing Global Challlenges will require addressing Global assumptions
> about being human,
> and more importantly addressing human endeavor at it's most basic level.
> As long as we exist in
> a world given by greed, nationalism, corporatism, ethnic cleansing,
> religious conflict, death vs.
> survival, desease, environmental degradation, and scarcity mentality, we
> will have a terrible time
> making profound changes in the nature of humanity and it's institutions.
> It is time for humanity to
> address itself. Design a better future by choice and engineering rather
> than one that simply lands
> on us like Dorothy's house landed on the wicked witch. It will take more
> than an X Prize to make
> a dent in the mess that humanity is. However, a multinational project
> with the backing of the X
> Prize, to begin to design economic and sociopolitical models that are
> sustainable, productive, and
> generate the kind of world that would make being human worthwhile for
> all people, might indeed
> be a worthwhile endeavor. Clearly to sociological hangover we currently
> suffer from needs to end
> before it kills us all.
> Cool conversation.
> Marie
> Timothy Jennings wrote:
> >>From the WTN Xprize site:
> >
> >
> >
> >... and here's the relevant part:
> >
> >About The WTN X PRIZE
> >
> >The concept of the WTN X PRIZES is to utilize the concepts,
> >procedures, technologies and publicity developed X PRIZE Foundation's
> >Ansari X PRIZE competition for space and the global science and
> >technology innovators identification process and community developed
> >by the World Technology Network (WTN) to launch a series of technology
> >prizes seeking to meet the greatest challenges facing humanity in the
> >21st century.
> >
> >The X PRIZE competition focused on jumpstarting a private space
> >industry has re-proven the principle – strongly proven in the early
> >years of the 20th century for the aviation industry – that innovation
> >can indeed be catalyzed. That principle can and should be extended to
> >other global challenges and opportunities and together we at the World
> >Technology Network (WTN) and the X PRIZE Foundation are committed to
> >doing just that.
> >
> >What challenges/opportunities should be selected?
> >
> >Although the idea of using the X PRIZE concept work in other areas is
> >at first glance a simple and attractive one, a great deal of up-front
> >thought needs to go into what challenges/opportunities would be
> >selected. One could argue that there were certain qualities about the
> >challenges and opportunities in both the aviation field and the space
> >field that lent themselves extremely well to a private sector
> >competition of the sorts which have occurred. Variables to be looked
> >at might include:
> >
> > * The maturity (or lack thereof) of the technology around which
> >the competition would be based?
> > * The maturity (or lack thereof) of the related industries from
> >which a new industry would be born
> > * The number of potential "competitors" potentially able to meet
> >the challenge or at least the depth of the pool from which potential
> >competitors could be drawn
> > * The level of the specificity of the challenge
> > * The financial resources potentially available to finance the
> >potential competitors
> > * The financial resources potentially available to finance the Prize itself
> > * How potentially compelling and exciting is the field around
> >which the challenge would be based
> > * The amenability of the target area to a threshold change in
> >public expectation
> > * The replicability of the challenge to other areas?
> > * The level of the presumed long-term benefit to business and society
> >
> >The list of questions above is by no means exhaustive, but does give a
> >sense of how the selection of a new challenge is not as first as
> >simple as it may seem. It is absolutely key that the right challenges
> >are selected – sufficiently exciting to compel hearts and minds,
> >sufficiently ambitious to reach beyond what is already likely going to
> >occur soon and to have a truly substantial impact, and sufficiently
> >focused to have a good chance of succeeding within a reasonable
> >timescale.
> >
> >Potential types of challenges?
> >
> >Here is a very rough and incomplete list of the sorts of challenges
> >that might be appropriate:
> >
> > * Medical challenges, such a cure for cancer or other major diseases.
> > * Technological "holy grails", such as artificial intelligence,
> >teleportation, molecular assemblers (true nanotechnology), cold
> >fusion, or a believable virtual reality system
> > * Major global challenges, such as the various UN Millennium
> >Development Goals (MDGs) announced by the world's leaders at the UN in
> >2000 at the Millennium Summit.
> >
> >Why We Are Asking You For Suggestions?
> >
> >There are over billions of people on the planet, almost each of whom
> >has a dream for a better world. The chances of us finding a truly
> >worthwhile series of challenges for the WTN X PRIZE competitions over
> >the coming years are that much greater the more suggestions we
> >receive. We are asking you because your dreams are the repository of
> >an enormous amount of creativity and hope. In the spirit of man's
> >first reach into space, we ask you to stretch your imagination to help
> >take humanity to the next level. Are you up to the challenge?
> >
> >.
> >
> >
> >

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