Re: question for the singularity institute people

From: Eliezer S. Yudkowsky (
Date: Thu Jul 12 2001 - 01:11:49 MDT

Reason wrote:
> So; why no SourceForge ( project?
> There is an incredible level of interest in AI of all sorts among the
> developer cloud surrounding SourceForge...and it occurs to me that you guys
> could harness some of that momentum into getting code on paper, as it were.
> Does SI feel that there *is* useful coding work that can be done at this
> stage? Is there any way in which the mission could be damaged by having ten
> or twenty part time people working away on something under the institute's
> guidance? Is open sourcing work that could be done at this stage a bad thing
> from your point of view?

We might try and open-source the development of tools, if they're tools
that can be useful to others. In fact, that's currently the plan with
respect to at least one of the tools we might need. But the AI itself
doesn't seem like the kind of thing that could be open-sourced. I used to
plan that way, but later learned, on reading my Eric S. Raymond, that open
source is especially well suited to certain types of projects, and
generally intelligent AI is not one of them. Characteristics that make AI
wrong for open-source include: (1) Open-source works best when the
creation to be implemented is well-understood (Linux was not the first
Unix implementation); (2) Open-source is very hard to get started unless
there is running code that does something cool, and there may be a heckuva
lot of coding required before a true general intelligence can say "Hello
world" much less do cool stuff; (3) Open-source works best when code can
be developed by a loosely distributed team working in rough but not
perfect synchronization; an AI, *especially* in the initial phases, would
probably need to be developed by a very tightly knit team.

-- -- -- -- --
Eliezer S. Yudkowsky
Research Fellow, Singularity Institute for Artificial Intelligence

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