Re: Apollo Project to get to the Singularity

From: J. Andrew Rogers (
Date: Wed Aug 23 2006 - 22:22:37 MDT

On Aug 23, 2006, at 3:30 PM, Richard Loosemore wrote:
> Alas I think that the $10M/year would not be enough for an Apollo
> Project. 10M is only really about what a single decent startup
> would need to get through seed stage.

Only if a company does not know what they are doing. AI is not
generally considered foundry work. $10M is a hell of a lot of money
for a well-run software startup.

> THE interesting question for me, however, is this: could a
> community based project get its act together to do what NASA did
> for spaceflight, but without government backing?

No, because there are no usable metrics for incremental success.
Effective communities do not materialize out of thin air. Even in
the rarified atmosphere of this mailing list there is little
agreement where it matters with regard to getting things done, and
compared to the community at large we would appear to almost be in

Community-based AI research is the idea that having a clue is an
emergent property of having enough people without a clue in one
room. And I use "emerge" in the "magic happens" sense here. I would
make the observation that most productive AI research seems to be
done by people who have shown little interest in community-based AI
research, which would suggest that the "community" aspect is quite
irrelevant to their progress. It is not as though there are not
plenty of community-based AI research projects in existence.

> We would not want governmet backing if we could help it, because
> the conditions today are not the same as they were in the 1960s,
> and I believe that the project would be pork-barrelized today where
> it was only partially true back then.

This statement seems a bit baseless and arbitrary. It might be true,
but it is not obvious.

> I'd be prepared to initiate such a project right now if the startup
> funds were available, because I believe it could actually work.
> And in case I am not being clear, I don't mean just another
> advocacy group or think tank, I mean a project to get concrete
> things done.

Starting a concrete project requires having a concrete and thorough
development plan at the outset or it will be a dead letter. This
sounds like forming a committee that will select the advisory
committee to the project planning committee that will decide what the
project actually will be doing. In other words, several steps too
early to really expect anyone else to be interested or involved.

If you need a community to tell you exactly what you should be doing,
you might as well give up. And if you know exactly what it is you
should be doing, what is the critical value of the community exactly?


J. Andrew Rogers

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