Re: What's going on this decade?

From: Ben Goertzel (
Date: Fri Aug 11 2006 - 11:35:03 MDT


On 8/11/06, Philip Goetz <> wrote:
> On 8/9/06, Ben Goertzel <> wrote:
> > It is my guess that when a Singularity is launched, US-based
> > researchers and engineers are likely to have a lot to do with it.
> Depends on how far away it is. The US is busy shutting down stem-cell
> research, cloning, genetic engineering, and Drexlerian nanotech, and
> recently I heard talk about restricting access to biotech equipment.
> It may be only a matter of time before they target AI as well.
> Singapore and China's governments are deliberately luring away
> researchers in all of these areas, as well as AI. Maybe Japan, too,
> tho I haven't heard much about them lately.
> I think people don't pay enough attention to Singapore. Would you all
> say that the world leaders of technology, in terms of GDP committed to
> research, are probably Singapore and Finland? (I don't know the
> numbers, so don't take my impression as authoritative.)

Phil, I agree that, if

* the trend of US gov't restricting research
* the trend of Asian gov't sucking away US and European researchers

accelerate and expand dramatically during the next couple decades,
then the US will
lose its current R&D leadership position (which currently exists by a
pretty wide margin)

But neither of these hypotheses strikes me as a "given."

Regarding nano:
US may not be funding Drexlerian nanotech, but neither is anyone else.
 And we are funding more of the near-term type of nano than anyone
else, by a long shot.

Regarding bio:
W is placing annoying restrictions, but at present these are nowhere
near significantly denting our leadership position. [IMO, the US bio
community is not focused enough on pragmatic systems biology, but
neither is anywhere else -- the biggest visionaries in this domain are
in Seattle.]

Regarding AI:
The US AI community is, on the whole, disappointingly narrow-minded
and anti-AGI in focus. But unfortunately, everywhere else is even

And regarding China:

Let's face it, that country has problems. I don't think China is
ready yet to attract a huge mass of US and European scientists and
researchers. (And for sure, none of them who do go will bring their
pets!). Hugo de Garis has relocated to China

so there is an argument that a "brain drain" to the East is starting.
But he also went to Japan in the 90's, and then returned to the
Occident after it didn't fulfill his dreams. I think China has a
realllly long way to go to catch up.

I wouldn't want to idealize the US R&D scene. I find it terribly
narrow-minded, short-sighted and conformist. But you haven't pointed
out to me anywhere that's better in any significant sense. You've
only pointed out some trends that, IF they continue and accelerate to
a long time, could end up moving the center of R&D innovation

Really, I am not speaking out of any kind of patriotic feeling, I'm
just trying to look at things objectively.

Personally, I'm stuck here in the US for another 8 years or so, due to
a shared child-custody arrangement with my ex (my youngest offspring
is 9 yrs old). After that I'll be happy to stay in the US or leave it
depending on where is most opportune for AGI development. Or maybe by
that point Novamente will have been completed and advanced far enough
toward Singularity to render national borders irrelevant ;-)

-- Ben G

-- Ben G

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