Re: Scenario for early hard takeoff

From: Benjamin Goertzel (
Date: Tue Sep 04 2007 - 12:00:27 MDT

Hi Matt,

I still believe that a distributed system has inherent advantages over
centralized systems like Google. The silicon component of the Internet has
1000 times more computing power than Google's supercomputing clusters, and
most of it is unused. I described 3 scenarios for acquiring computing power
(buy, beg, or steal), but a fourth is to barter. People are willing to give
up personal information and install software that hooks into a distributed
system if they get some perceived benefit, such as free email, webhosting,
more convenient access to data.

-- Matt Mahoney,

The idea of using masses of home computers for AGI processing is one that
appealed to me for a long time.

In fact, some friends and I built a partially-functional Java prototype in
2000 for a system called WebWorld that would support massively distributed
AGI processing. A very brief paper on that architecture and its motivations
can be found here:

(the paper was delivered at an Alife conference in Portland, I forget what
year, probably 2000.)

>From the perspective of the Novamente Cognition Engine architecture,

-- there are some components that will work WAY more effectively on a
than a broadly distributed network

-- there are some components that could very effectively be distributed
zillions of users' home computers, using WebWorld or something similar

So a mixed architecture would be great. I wrote about this a bit in my 2001
book "Creating
Internet Intelligence."

However, logistically, convincing loads of people to actually download some
AGI-at-home thingie on their home computers may be tricky.

For instance, let's suppose we launched some open-source OpenCog@Homethingie,
that let folks use their home computers to carry out cognitive processes as
part of some
global OpenCog brain...

What induces them to download and install the thing? To trust the thing?

The same curiosity and civic-mindedness that caused folks to download
SETI@home, I suppose?

Or do you suggest that they get some service in exchange for running the

Given the preponderance of free or very low cost web services that already
exist, my intuition is that we might do better to just rely on
SETI@hometype motivations than to make it a barter type transaction...

But I'm open to being refuted by great suggestions on how to turn it into a
barter thing...

Most of all, I'm open to collaboration with folks who actually want to build
the thing. Since 2000 there have been plenty of advances in infrastructural
technology, e.g. the Globus toolkit

that might or might not be relevant (I haven't carefully evaluated them).

-- Ben


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