Re: Syllabus for Seed Developer Qualifications [WAS Re: Some considerations about AGI]

From: Patrick Crenshaw (
Date: Sun Jan 29 2006 - 22:23:43 MST

While I would agree that not every member needs to have knowledge of
physics, I think it is certainly helpful for someone on a team to have
that knowledge. I think all of the requirements that people suggest
should be interpreted in terms of a team.

The reason why I stated that statistical mechanics and thermodynamics
are necessary for an AGI team is because both are the study of very
complex systems and the hardware and software necessary for a human
level AGI will require very large structured systems. This complexity
can be moved either a bit to the side of hardware or a bit to the side
of software, but the complexity remains. Moreover, thermodynamics can
tell you things about systems even when you don't know the details of
how the system is made. In fact, this is the divide between
thermodynamics and statistical mechanics: Statistical mechanics is for
when you care what the system is made of and thermodynamics is for
when you don't.

I think you need to look into biophysics a bit more if you think it
isn't necessary for creating a DNA computer. Biophysics is in large
part applied statistical mechanics (e.g. Brownian motion).

On 1/29/06, Olie L <> wrote:
> Richard's refusal: Not Strong Enough
> >From: Richard Loosemore <>
> >Subject: Re: Syllabus for Seed Developer Qualifications [WAS Re: Some
> >considerations about AGI]
> >Date: Sun, 29 Jan 2006 19:39:00 -0500
> >
> >Patrick Crenshaw wrote:
> >>On 1/25/06, Richard Loosemore <> wrote:
> >>>Huh? You don't need a PhD. in all of those subjects!
> >>>
> >>>It would certainly help to be well-rounded, but it is crazy to require a
> >>>Ph.D. in (e.g.) M-Theory. Heck, a couple of undergrad physics courses
> >>>and a dose of Brian Greene ought to be enough.
> >>
> >>A dose of Brian Greene is just about useless. What could be very
> >>useful for AGI is... thermodynamics.
> Useful, possibly. How is it _necessary_?
> Imagine a Seed AI encoded on DNA... Does anyone deny this as a possibility?
> Imagine a project going about creating a Seed AI using DNA. Sure, it's an
> arse-about way to go about it today, but if our genetics knowledge were
> greater (times many many)...
> The original physics developments needed to create such a seed AI? Nowt.
> The advanced physics knowledge needed by the development team? Nowt
> The simple physics knowledge needed by the team? Hrmmm... could be useful
> to help the seed AI get a grip on reality... before it learned advanced
> physics for itself.
> The simple physics knowledge needed by most members of the development team?
> Zip.
> Some well rounded knowledge could be useful to help the project know where
> it doesn't need to go. F'rinstance, some Neurology and Quantum mech might
> be useful for an AGI team to know that Penrose's "brain /= computing
> machine" objections are, at best, tangential to AGI.
> But not every team member needs to be a polymath.
> Polymaths are useful. At least, I hope so, as I have a limited degree of
> vested interest in demand for polymaths. But not every member of a team has
> to be a pan-Paragon for the team to achieve amazing things.
> Teams ought to combine individuals' skills and abilities in compounding
> ways. They need to be able to communicate on the application of specialist
> abilities. That doesn't mean everyone has to be an expert in all areas.
> I'm not playing down what's required to be on a successful AGI team. Even
> though I "get" (a lot of) AI and cog-sci theory, I can't programme for shit.
> So don't hire me.
> But don't turn down a great neuroscientist/cog scientist with meta-math and
> programming skills (think: Giulio Tononi crossed with Jaynes, with coding
> skills) just because they don't know diddley about networking / operating
> systems / number theory.
> Put them in a team, and make them useful.
> -- Olie
> More examples:
> - If the AGI project is not utilising nanotech, no nanotech knowledge is
> required. If it's using existing nanotech (eg: nanocomputers supplied by a
> 3rd party, which are faster but appear identcal to conventional computers),
> no nanotech knowledge is required.
> - Much is made about rationality tools. Any AGI project will have >=1
> rationality tool (eg: Bayesian reasoning), so all programmers will likely
> have *some* connection to the AGI's use of rationality tools. But if they
> can institute the programming, does it really matter whether or not the
> programmers are themselves hyper-rational?
> If they are knowledgeable and insightful, does it matter if *some*
> teammembers have mediocre "Judgement Quotients"? If they occasionally have
> a teary over which O/S they have to programme with, does this matter outside
> of team morale issues? I fail to see how such natural deficiencies are a
> problem with well managed teams.

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