Extending the Soar Cognitive Architecture


One approach in pursuit of general intelligent agents has been to concentrate on the underlying cognitive architecture, of which Soar is a prime example. In the past, Soar has relied on a minimal number of architectural modules together with purely symbolic representations of knowledge. At the AGI-08 conference John Laird, Tishman Professor of Engineering at the University of Michigan, presented the cognitive architecture approach to general intelligence and the traditional, symbolic Soar architecture. This overview was followed by major additions to Soar, including non-symbolic representations, new learning mechanisms, and long-term memories

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Politics of AI


Bill Hibbard, Emeritus Senior Scientist of the Space Science and Engineering Center at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, contributed a paper for the AGI-08 post-conference workshop arguing that machines significantly more intelligent than humans will require changes in legal and economic systems in order to preserve human values. An open source design for artificial intelligence could help this process by discouraging corruption, by enabling many minds to search for errors, and by encouraging political cooperation.  In his presentation, he encouraged the Singularity Institute for Artificial Intelligence not to remain mute on the subject of politics and to take a proactive stance as a political organization.

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Distributed Surveillance with MEMS or Nano-scale Sensors


Tad Hogg is a researcher in the Social Computing Laboratory of Hewlett-Packard, focused on harvesting the collective intelligence of groups of people to optimize the interaction between users and information.  At the 2008 Global Catastrophic Risks conference in Mountain View, he presented on the prospects of distributed surveillance with MEMS & nano-scale sensors.

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The Kronos Longitudinal Aging Study


To be practically useful, the measurement of aging rate (by monitoring the decline of a global index of functional capacity, expressed as a rate function) must be relatively easy and inexpensive. Measured aging rate should enable empirical testing of purported anti-aging interventions in relatively short-term human clinical trials. This is the primary objective of the Kronos Longitudinal Aging Study. Chris Heward, President of Kronos Science Laboratory, presented on strategies aimed at intervening in the aging process at the 2007 Foresight Vision Weekend, including a brief overview of the study and its intentions.

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Foresight and Opportunity


The 2007 Foresight Vision Weekend offered fifteen intense hours of mind-blowing creativity.  From the biggest picture of tomorrow’s web, to the tiniest picture of nanotechnology, the emphasis was on how to steer rapid change for the benefit of civilization, instead of being run over by it. Brad Templeton introduced the second day of the unconference organized by the Foresight Nanotechnology Institute, touching on the tremendous opportunities attending living in the midst of a historical revolution in converging technologies.

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AI and the Future of Human Morality


Steve Omohundro is president of Self-Aware Systems, a Silicon Valley think tank aimed at bringing human values to emerging technologies. His talk “AI and the Future of Human Morality,” delivered at the Silicon Valley World Transhumanist Association Meetup, examines the origins of human morality and its future development to cope with advances in artificial intelligence.

The presentation begins with a discussion of the dangers of philosophies which put ideas ahead of people, then presents Kohlberg’s six stages of human moral development, evidence for recent advances in human morality, the theory underlying co-opetition, recent advances in understanding the sexual and social origins of altruism, and the five human moral emotions and their relationship to political systems. The discussion then considers the likely behavior of advanced AI systems, showing that they will want to understand and improve themselves, will have drives toward self-preservation and resource acquisition, and will be vigilant in avoiding corruption and addiction. The presentation ends with a description of the three primary challenges that humanity faces in guiding future technology toward human-positive ends.

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Building Civilizational Resilience


Jamais Cascio is a Senior Fellow for the Institute for Ethics and Emerging Technologies, a research affiliate at the Institute for the Future, and blogs at Open the Future.  He presented on the concept of engineering civilization to be more resilient in the face of catastrophic risks at GCR08, the November Global Catastrophic Risks conference in Mountain View. A day-long seminar on threats to the future of humanity, natural and man-made, the meeting offered various viewpoints on the pro-active steps we can take to reduce global risks.

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Engineering Utopia


At the AGI-08 post-conference workshop on the ethical implications of artificial general intelligence, J. Storrs Hall, author of Beyond AI: Creating the Conscience of the Machine, presented on “Engineering Utopia.” The paper asserts that the likely advent of AGI and the long-established trend of improving computational hardware promise a dual revolution in coming decades: machines which are both more intelligent and more numerous than human beings. This possibility raises substantial concern over the moral nature of such intelligent machines, and of the changes they will cause in society. Will we have the chance to determine their moral character, or will evolutionary processes and/or runaway self-improvement take the choices out of our hands?

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