Monthly Archive: March 2011

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Reduction Considered Harmful

The goal of any science and engineering education is to give the student the ability to “perform Reduction”. Some of you may not be familiar with this term, but you have all done it. It is the most commonly used process in science and engineering and we tacitly assume we will use it at every opportunity. Therefore there has been little need to discuss Reduction as a topic outside of epistemology and philosophy of science.

In what follows, I will be making the claim that for the limited purpose of creating an Artificial General Intelligence (AGI) we must avoid this common kind of Reduction. This article (second in a series) will discuss what Reduction is and why it is useless in the domains where AGI is expected to operate. The third article will discuss why it is also unnecessary. The fourth article will discuss available alternatives. As a bonus, we will come to Understand what it means to Understand something.

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Seeking the Sputnik of AGI

A couple months after I (Ben Goertzel) interviewed my good friend and sometime research collaborator Hugo de Garis on some of his wilder theoretical ideas, he suggested it would be interesting to play a role-reversal game and ask ME some interview questions – about my AGI research and my views on the future of humanity and intelligence. His questions were good ones and so I happily obliged!

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Transhumanism, Meet Humanism: Leon Battista Alberti’s Vision

“Men can do all things if they will.”

It might almost be a motto for Humanity+ itself. But it was written by Leon Battista Alberti, a fifteenth-century Italian polymath whose interests would have seemed equally at home in the twenty-first. An architect, artist, and philosopher, he was also a cryptographer who invented the first polyalphabetic cipher, and he made the first scientific study of perspective. The investigations Alberti began on how painters could represent three-dimensional space in a two-dimensional image have revived today, in the field of machine vision. And Alberti’s obsession with vision and the eye as the symbols of understanding have their echoes in modern research that views perception as central in artificial intelligence.


Eureqa! Signs of the Singularity?

What will cause the Singularity? The most common theory revolves around Artificial General Intelligence. But while Strong AI could well play a part in causing a Singularity, it should not be thought of as the only route to an intelligence explosion. Broadly speaking, a Singularity can occur when there is a closed loop between technological improvement and an increase in intelligence. For example, consider a group of thinkers smart enough to dream up and create ‘Technology X’. Technology X is, in some way, better than natural intelligence. This ’greater-than-human’ intelligence enables, among other things, improvements to technology X, which lead to further increases over natural intelligence. And so it goes on.

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Future Foglets of the Hive Mind

The concept of utility fog – flying, intercommunicating nanomachines that dynamically shape themselves into assorted configurations to serve various roles and execute multifarious tasks – was introduced by nanotech pioneer Josh Storrs Hall in 1993. Recently in H+ Magazine, Hall pointed out that swarm robots are the closest thing we have to utility fog. This brings the concept a little bit closer to reality.

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Building and Growing Transhumanist Communities

Transhumanists are still human, and we still have basic human needs. This blog post summarizes the literature on personal happiness, and the only factors which correlate to any degree are genetics, health, work satisfaction, and social life – which actually gets listed three separate times as social activity, relationship satisfaction and religiosity. Transhumanists tend to be less socially adept on average, and this can make it difficult to obtain the full rewards of social interaction. However, once transhumanists learn to socialize with each other, they can also become increasingly social towards everyone more generally. This improves your life. A lot.

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Rejuvenate Your Cells by Growing New Mitochondria

In an unprecedented breakthrough, a compound has been discovered that promotes the growth of new mitochondria structures within aging cells. In this article, you will discover how this novel compound can help reverse cellular aging by activating genes that stimulate mitochondrial biogenesis, which means the generation of new mitochondria.

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The Future And You: An Interview by Extropia DaSilva and Stephen Euin Cobb

On a personal level, I most look forward to becoming a person in a real rather than an imaginary sense. To that end, I am keenly interested in artificial intelligence going beyond the level where it can ace the Turing test (and is accepted as a mind with a level of general intelligence at least as broad as a human mind) and reaching a stage where it is possible to create a specific mind. Kind of a Turing test where the goal is to convince the judges it is my ‘self’ they are interacting with.