Re: Singularity?

Eliezer S. Yudkowsky (
Thu, 02 Sep 1999 18:36:36 -0500

Matt Gingell wrote:
> >See [343K]
> >
> I skimmed your document and, with all due respect, I do not see that your model,
> as I understand it, differs significantly from classical AI. You have a number
> of modules containing domain-specific knowledge mediated by a centralized world
> model. This is a traditional paradigm.

Okay. First of all, that's not right. There's a number of modules containing domain-specific *codelets* - not knowledge - and the "domains" are things like "causality" or "similarity" or "reflexivity", not things like "knowledge about the French Revolution" or "knowledge about cars". Furthermore, the world-model is not centralized. There is nothing you can point to and call a "world-model". The world-model is a way of viewing the sum of the interrelated contents of all domdules.

> The macro-scale self improvement you
> envision is not compelling to me – if you’ve written a program that can
> understand and improve upon itself in a novel and open-ended way then you’ve
> solved the interesting part of the problem already.

Precisely. That is, in a nutshell, the entire problem of seed AI. "Write a program that can represent, notice, understand and improve on its local component code and global design paradigms in an open-ended way."

> Could you identify the cardboard box you think AI research is stuck in, and what
> you’d change if you were in charge. (You have 5 years...)

In my mind, I conceptualize "AI" and "transhuman AI" as being two entirely different fields. AI is stuck in the cardboard box of insisting on generalized processing, simplified models, and implementing only a piece of one problem at a time instead of entire cognitive architectures; they're stuck on systems that a small team of researchers can implement in a year.

I like to think that I actually appreciate the humongous complexity of the human mind - in terms of "lines" of neurocode, not content, but code - and that I've acknowledged the difficulty of the problem of creating a complete cognitive architecture. I suffer from absolutely no delusion that a transhuman AI will be small. In the end, I think the difference is that I've faced up to the problem.

           Eliezer S. Yudkowsky
Running on BeOS           Typing in Dvorak          Programming with Patterns
Voting for Libertarians   Heading for Singularity   There Is A Better Way