News and commentary about the Great Frontiers

ISS007-E-10807 (21 July 2003) --- This view of Earth's horizon as the sunsets over the Pacific Ocean was taken by an Expedition 7 crewmember onboard the International Space Station (ISS). Anvil tops of thunderclouds are also visible. Credit: Earth Science and Remote Sensing Unit, NASA Johnson Space Center

Image Credit: ISS007-E-10807 (21 July 2003) – Earth Science and Remote Sensing Unit, NASA Johnson Space Center

Speaker: Dr. Ben Goertzel


Dr. Ben Goertzel is SIAI Director of Research and chief science officer and acting CEO of Novamente. He believes that with the right funding and capital, AGI could be developed in nine years. Novamente is approaching AGI development by focusing on virtual agents in virtual worlds like Second Life.

Goertzel defined AGI as “the ability to achieve complex goals in complex environments using limited computational resources.” AGI will require autonomy, practical understanding of self and others, and understanding “what the problem is” opposed to just rote problem solving.

Unlike some other speakers and AGI proponents, Goertzel does not believe that today’s narrow AI solutions necessarily suggest the right paths to AGI. He provided a list of items that will be necessary for developing AGI:

  • AGI will not be created by generalizing narrow AI.
  • Researchers need to go back to the basics; that is, by creating artificial babies and pets and allowing the technology to develop into more advanced entities.
  • AI can be created in robots or in virtual reality. Robots are expensive and have high maintenance requirements and costs. Virtual reality allows for embodied agents will lower costs.
  • Researchers should harness the wisdom of the crowds. Instead of only company-paid teachers, AI could learn from everyone who interact with them via virtual worlds. The populations of many of today’s virtual worlds suggests thousands to millions of users who can help.
  • The particular model for minds used by Novamente was developed by Goertzel and described in his book The Hidden Pattern. Minds are patterns with pattern-recognition capabilities, including their own pattern and more complicated patterns of patterns.
  • Goertzel believes a cognition engine based on the patternist philosophy will lead to the creation of AGI.
  • Open-source AGI frameworks may prove to be useful and even necessary toward the development of true AGI.

Goertzel mentioned that there remain particular ethical issues. The creation of AGI presents dangers close at home, including to our loved ones and self. Determining how to create Friendly AI, more intelligent than us but with our best interests and values at heart, may be difficult.

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