Welcome to the Future of AGI


 Ben Goertzel and J. Storrs Hall at the AGI-09 post-conference workshop

Following in the footsteps of AGI-08, the Future of AI workshop was held in conjunction with AGI-09. This year’s workshop, held Monday, March 9th, 2009, at the main conference venue of the Crowne Plaza National Airport in Arlington, Virginia featured a slate of invited talks as well as contributed papers and posters. The event was hosted by J. Storrs Hall, president of the Foresight Institute, and introduced the topic of the economics of advanced AI.

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Toward Real AI


Peter Voss started his career as an entrepreneur, inventor, engineer and scientist at age 16. After a few years of experience in electronics engineering, at age 25 he started a company to provide advanced custom software development and information-technology services. Seven years later the company employed several hundred people and was listed on the Johannesburg Stock Exchange. Having recently taken his artificial intelligence company Adaptive A.I. Inc. (a2i2) out of stealth mode, he presented at the BIL unconference in Long Beach, California in February on the prospects of creating artificial general intelligence, or “Real AI,” in less than a decade.

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AI Convergence


Convergence08, the technology unconference, began with a different kind of AI debate: not on whether to create AI, or which technical path will work fastest, but how we can use AI technology to build the world we want to live in. Jonas Lamis of SciVestor moderated the panel of artificial intelligence experts, which included Barney Pell of Powerset, Steve Omohundro of Self-Aware Systems,  Peter Norvig of Google and Ben Goertzel of Novamente.

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Digital Serfs and Cyborg Buddhas


Mike LaTorra and J. Hughes led a group discussion at the Convergence 08 unconference titled “Digital Serfs and Cyborg Buddhas.” Digital (or data) serfdom currently exists — and is growing — among high-tech workers. In a future of mind-uploading, the situation could worsen into a dystopian horror. The bright alternative to this vision of servitude in dark digital mills is life as an enhanced, empowered, free individual, the Cyborg Buddha, who enjoys both technological abundance and the time to enjoy it in contemplative bliss.

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Comirit: Commonsense Reasoning by Integrating Simulation and Logic


Rich computer simulations or quantitative models can enable an agent to realistically predict real-world behavior with precision and performance that is difficult to emulate in logical formalisms. Unfortunately, such simulations lack the deductive flexibility of techniques such as formal logics and so do not find natural application in the deductive machinery of commonsense or general purpose reasoning systems.

This dilemma can, however, be resolved via a hybrid architecture that combines tableaux-based reasoning with a framework for generic simulation based on the concept of ‘molecular’ models. Benjamin Johnston in a presentation on his paper with Mary-Anne Williams delivered at the AGI-08 Conference, argues that this combination exploits the complementary strengths of logic and simulation, allowing an agent to build and reason with automatically constructed simulations in a problem-sensitive manner.

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Toward Cognitively Robust Synthetic Characters



At AGI-08: The First Conference on Artificial General IntelligenceAndrew Shilliday of the Rensselaer A.I. and Reasoning Lab reported on the attempts by researchers at the organization to enable artificial agents to reason about the beliefs of others, resulting in game characters that can predict the behavior of human players.

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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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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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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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The China-Brain Project


Professor Hugo de Garis has been given a grant by Xiamen University in Fujian Province, China to build an artificial brain consisting of 10,000 – 15,000 neural net circuit modules evolved in an accelerator board 50 times faster than in a PC.  He is scheduled to head a conference session on the subject of artificial brains in May at AGI-09, the second conference on artificial general intelligence, after which he will be teaching at the first AGI Summer School in Xiamen, China in June.

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Stages of Ethical Development in Artificial General Intelligence Systems


Photo by brewbrooks

At the AGI-08 post-conference workshop Ben Goertzel presented on a paper with Stephan Vladimir Bugaj on the theory of stages of ethical development as applied to artificial intelligence systems.  Incorporating prior related theories by Kohlberg and Gilligan, as well as Piaget’s theory of cognitive development, the theory is then applied to the ethical development of integrative artificial general intelligence systems that contain components carrying out simulation and uncertain inference – the key hypothesis being that effective integration of these components is central to the ascent of the AGI system up the ethical-stage hierarchy.

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