Re: Why invest in AGI?

From: Richard Loosemore (
Date: Sat Jan 21 2006 - 23:21:24 MST

In keeping with my earlier post, I should say that the basic assumption
behind your calculation is wildly pessimistic, in my estimation.

AGI research could easily hit a sudden patch of rapid advance. I know
we have to be cautious when citing history, but you have to remember
that there are untild numbers of examples of technological dreams that
were proceeeding slowly and were not expected in anyone's lifetime, then
suddenly arrived out of nowhere:

[You probably all know these five stories, but it is fun to remind
ourselves of them from time to time :-)]:

1) The Wright brothers were extremely depressed about their rate of
progress a mere 6 months before they took off. At times they thought it
would never work.

2) The early railway builders got delirious about their progress, but
when some of them began telling investors that trains would one day be
able to travel faster than 20 mph, the mature, experienced engineers
decided that enough was enough, and they came out in public and
denounced the hotheads - this was the origin of the "something bad would
happen if people ever travelled faster than 20 mph" story.

3) In 1913 the radio pioneer Lee DeForest was successfully prosecuted
for fraud, thus: "DeForest has said in many newspapers and over his
signature that it would be possible to transmit the human voice across
the Atlantic before many years. Based on these absurd and deliberately
misleading statements, the misguided public has been persuaded to
purchase stock in his company."

4) And then, in 1926, the same Lee DeForest, said, "While theoretically
and technically television may be feasible, commercially and
financially, I consider it an impossibility, a development of which we
need waste little time dreaming." Even he could not see what was abouty
to happen.

5) In the early 1950s, the great futurist Arthur C. Clarke was a wild
optimist when it came to space travel, but even he didn't really think
anyone would get to the moon before the end of the century.

Now, what these examples should *not* teach us is that we can just dream
up a loony idea about the future and then tell everyone that it is just
around the corner, citing the previous surprises as "proof." But on the
other hand, it takes a lot of insight for us to understand exactly what
happened in the minds of the people who made those failed predictions:
they were smart cookies, all of them, and they knew that people had
previously failed to see big things coming, but they *thought* they were
not subject to the [sic] narrowmindedness and lack of vision that those
other folks must have suffered from, so they felt they were being sensible.

Bottom line: it could take one year.

Probably won't, but it could.

At any rate, it would be foolish to sell the AGI idea with a timeline of
30-40 years attached to it.

Richard Loosemore.

Keith M. Elis wrote:
> What would a likely AGI investor look like on paper? Given the lack of
> a clear development timeline (Hofstatder's Law applies, I think), this
> investor would be relatively young -- 45 or younger I would think. That
> gives him 30-40 years for the investment to pay off. Now, given the
> speculative nature of the investment, it will be a small fraction
> of this investor's available capital, and an even smaller fraction
> of his total net worth. Let's assume a modest, but still
> meaningful investment of $100,000. If this is 1% of his readily
> available capital (he is smart with money so doesn't bet the farm), that
> suggests an investor with $10M of capital. If this is 75% of his total
> net worth (the rest in real estate, stock options, etc.), that means we
> have a 45 year old worth $13.3M. How many 45 year olds are worth $13.3M?
> This would an interesting figure to see especially at the global scale.
> I ! believe the last Merrill Lynch world wealth report suggested there
> were about 70,000 people with a net worth of $30M or more in the world.
> This is an age-blind figure. The same document said there were 7.6
> million people worth $1M or more. So, $13.3M would fall somewhere
> between that.
> The bottom-line is that we might be talking about an uncommon beast,
> this younger than 45 year-old worth $13.3.M. My bet would be that a
> large percentage of them would be Hollywood actors, sports figures, and
> other entertainment types. This is just a guess.
> Keith
> */Mike Dougherty <>/* wrote:
> Having read the rest of the posts to date on this thread, my answer
> may not seem as technical..
> I would respond:
> Think of the smartest peo! ple you have ever met (or even heard
> about) and imagine if they could be convinced to work for you for
> the rest of your life. Suppose they can collectively solve any
> problem you give them in 5 years. Now consider that AGI can think
> orders of magnitude more quickly, does not have emotional
> disturbances due to stress or lack of progress, and never needs to
> sleep/eat/goof off. It solves what your smartest people did in 5
> years within three weeks. What would you expect the ROI to be on a
> device like that? (perhaps removing any of the moral arguments of
> machine intelligence and proposing/selling the AGI as a machine
> which does exclusively _mental_ work)
> If this millionaire businessman took even a nibble at this prospect,
> I might be inclined to ask, "Would you spend your money to build a
> machine that grants wishes or use it to look for a djinni bottle?"
> Sorry I didn't use more acronyms :)
> ! On 1/20/06, *H C* < <>>
> wrote:
> I have really seen hardly any discussion or exposition directly
> related to
> the question of AGI investment, from a business standpoint
> (although I think
> the AGIRI forum is a step in the right direction).
> Say today is your lucky day, and you sat down next a millionaire
> businessman
> on the bus and he asked you "Why should I invest in AGI?".
> How would you respond? What makes a good response here? What are
> some major
> things you would bring up in your answer?

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