Quantcast
≡ Menu

Ben Goertzel on Singularity 1 on 1: The Future Is Ours To Create

Today my guest on Singularity 1 on 1 is Ben Goertzel. During our 40 min conversation we cover a wide range of topics such as: Ben’s original interest in time travel and science fiction; his decision to start working on artificial general intelligence and his views on the potential time-line thereof together with his evaluation of the software vs hardware requirements for building it; scientific funding for AI research in both the USA and China; the technological singularity and our chances of surviving it. (You can listen to or download the audio file above or you can scroll down and watch the full video of the interview below.)

As attested by his short bio below, Ben is a brilliant AI scientist with an incredibly wide spectrum of interests and talents. Even more, I can’t help it but mention that he is also a truly nice guy because due to some technical difficulties he was willing to patiently reschedule our interview twice before we finally managed to get it right. Given the number of other things that Ben is juggling within his busy schedule, it would have been only natural for him to cancel. Yet he patiently persisted and I am very grateful for and appreciative of his time.

Who is Ben Goertzel

Dr. Ben Goertzel is CEO of AI software company Novamente LLC and bioinformatics company Biomind LLC; Chief Technology Officer of biopharma firm Genescient Corp.; leader of the open-source OpenCog AI software project;  Chairman of Humanity+; Advisor to the Singularity University and Singularity Institute; Research Professor in the Fujian Key Lab for Brain-Like Intelligent Systems at Xiamen University, China; and general Chair of the Artificial General Intelligence conference series.

His research work encompasses artificial general intelligence, natural language processing, cognitive science, data mining, machine learning, computational finance, bioinformatics, virtual worlds and gaming and other areas. He has published a dozen scientific books, nearly 90 technical papers, and numerous journalistic articles.  Before entering the software industry he served as a university faculty in several departments of mathematics, computer science and cognitive science, in the US, Australia and New Zealand.  He has three children and too many pets, and in his spare time enjoys creating avant-garde fiction and music, and the outdoors. For more see Goertzel.org

Like this article?

Please help me produce more content:

Donate!

OR

Please subscribe for free weekly updates:

  • Pingback: Tweets that mention Ben Goertzel on Singularity 1 on 1 -- Topsy.com()

  • I was a bit surprised to not hear “sentience” or “self-awareness” mentioned in relation to AGI. I had assumed AGI- as popularly defined- included some form of consciousness.

    Goertzel’s report on the pursuit of AGI in China presents a double-edged sword. Academic freedom could produce AGI, but a paranoid government could claim and manipulate a successful AGI project IMO. The potential consequences of that would be devastating.

  • I was a bit surprised to not hear “sentience” or “self-awareness” mentioned in relation to AGI. I had assumed AGI- as popularly defined- included some form of consciousness.

    Goertzel’s report on the pursuit of AGI in China presents a double-edged sword. Academic freedom could produce AGI, but a paranoid government could claim and manipulate a successful AGI project IMO. The potential consequences of that would be devastating.

  • Pingback: Ben Goertzel: 10 Years To The Singularity()

  • Pingback: The Eyeborg: Rob Spence on Singularity 1 on 1 Podcast()

  • Pingback: Natasha Vita-More on Singularity 1 on 1()

  • Pingback: The Best of Singularity Weblog 2010()

  • Pingback: Do We Need to Have a “Future Day”?()

  • Pingback: Podcasts » goertzel.org()

  •  As always – you make fantastic points and observations Cynthia!

  • Lu Lu

    The other goverments of the world are no less paranoid and manipulating.

    It is just that China did (and does) a lousy job to cover up their “atrocities”, and also that China has acquired economic success in recent years (which accentuates some of their rather anachronistic practices). But overally I believe China, like Hugo de Garis predicted (and hoped), will play a very important role (more so than how much China already was) in the next half century, before the Singularity.

    BTW, I think the many discussions on consciousness is overrated. Where in a brain can you find consciousness? Nowhere (unless you believe in the pseudoscience theory of the “pineal gland”).

    Even if there is a physical seat of consciouness, transplanting it would make no difference. We must differ “brain transplant” from “consciousness transplant”.

    In a brain transplantation, all of “you”, including your memories and skills (which exists as connection-patterns inside your brain). You will wake up and find yourself in a different body, and perhaps need time to adjust/get used to the new organs and muscles (which may not be as strong OR stronger than your original body, and your somatosensory lobes need time to adjust themselves, and perhaps some exercises are required).

    Aside fom these, you experience no other changes. You had not lose your memory and physical skills, the change was nothing more than a driver driving a different car.

    As for “consciousness transplant” (suppose a pineal gland transplant), you will wake up and find your memories replaced by the host’s memories, your skills and personality also replaced by the host’ new ones.

    You would not remember being a different person prior to transplanting. You can as well say that no difference occured at all.

    It is somehow similar to the concept of “reincarnation” in Hindu and Buddhist belief.

    Most children are born without knowing being a different person in a past life.

    In the few (supernatural, and of course are not believed to be true by skeptics) cases that the child do remember a past life (speak about their past lives as a infant, recognizing people and things they knew from their past lives), there must be physical changes done to the child’s brain (through supernatural means).

    As a conclusion, I want to say that I agree with Jeff Hawkins that we should not spend too much time discussing about consciousness (which today is reduced to mere semantic games). Intelligence is all we need to focus on.

  • Pingback: Natasha Vita-More on Singularity 1 on 1()

  • zeitgeist2

    Mind is normally taken as intellect ( =capacity for causative reasoning ) , which is just one of four equally important components of the mind. The other three being , the “instinct of survival” ( the defining characteristic of life itself ) , “Emotions” ( the engine that drives even the intellect that helps the mind to operate transcendental to pure reasoning ) and the fourth component being, ” free- will” ( that helps the mind to operate into unknown fields not even subject to the instinct of survival ) . Computers and AI as it is described now takes into account only the intellect cannot fathom human mind.

    As Ben correctly says, we haven to strike out brand new paradigms not only of logical reasoning , but that can tread into illogical areas like emotions and free- will too which it is very difficult for a non- human mind- like entity to copy .

    But , we can keep trying . Its where uncertainties, probabilities and fuzzy logic helps. Neurons and other physical aspects of the mind are just the hardware components of the mind ,not its software which is that makes mind , the mind.

    Perhaps bio- sciences and life- sciences might provide answers to the mind than physics or chemistry both of which are based on material sciences.

    More research into bio- sciences and life- sciences might help to recreate mind on some physical structures in the future.

  • zeitgeist2

    Mind is normally taken as intellect ( =capacity for causative reasoning ) , which is just one of four equally important components of the mind. The other three being , the “instinct of survival” ( the defining characteristic of life itself ) , “Emotions” ( the engine that drives even the intellect that helps the mind to operate transcendental to pure reasoning ) and the fourth component being, ” free- will” ( that helps the mind to operate into unknown fields not even subject to the instinct of survival ) . Computers and AI as it is described now takes into account only the intellect cannot fathom human mind.

    As Ben correctly says, we haven to strike out brand new paradigms not only of logical reasoning , but that can tread into illogical areas like emotions and free- will too which it is very difficult for a non- human mind- like entity to copy .

    But , we can keep trying . Its where uncertainties, probabilities and fuzzy logic helps. Neurons and other physical aspects of the mind are just the hardware components of the mind ,not its software which is that makes mind , the mind.

    Perhaps bio- sciences and life- sciences might provide answers to the mind than physics or chemistry both of which are based on material sciences.

    More research into bio- sciences and life- sciences might help to recreate mind on some physical structures in the future.

  • zeitgeist2

    He is a proponent of AGI ( = artificial general intelligence ) whereas Kurzweil is of AI .

    The difference seems to be that AI takes into account only the rational logical components

    of the mind,

    the intellect along with its hardware components viz, the neurons, the synapses , the physical ” wiring” etc,

    the AGI sees the mind in more holistic way , more focused on the software components , mainly,

    the instinct of survival( which is the

    defining quality of life or of liveliness itself , as all life- forms from single cell bacteria , to microbial

    Life forms, plants and animals also possesses up to complex multi-celled life firms like humans too ),

    Emotions , ( which transcends logic , which drives the engine intellect even ) , and ,

    Free will ( which helps human mind to step into untrodden territories intellectually and emotionally and at times

    beyond the imperatives of the instinct of survival itself ) .

    The whole package is the product of universal consciousness or a

    sort of cosmic awareness .which is perhaps what Ben means as AGI.

    And it is Ben’s view that a holistic approach

    ( that gives more weight age to life- sciences and bio- sciences than to physical sciences )

    has better chances of taking us to the singularity that Kurzweil is predicted to happen by

    2045 .

    Ben feels that we can achieve that state decades earlier , if we so will it

  • zeitgeist2

    He is a proponent of AGI ( = artificial general intelligence ) whereas Kurzweil is of AI .

    The difference seems to be that AI takes into account only the rational logical components

    of the mind,

    the intellect along with its hardware components viz, the neurons, the synapses , the physical ” wiring” etc,

    the AGI sees the mind in more holistic way , more focused on the software components , mainly,

    the instinct of survival( which is the

    defining quality of life or of liveliness itself , as all life- forms from single cell bacteria , to microbial

    Life forms, plants and animals also possesses up to complex multi-celled life firms like humans too ),

    Emotions , ( which transcends logic , which drives the engine intellect even ) , and ,

    Free will ( which helps human mind to step into untrodden territories intellectually and emotionally and at times

    beyond the imperatives of the instinct of survival itself ) .

    The whole package is the product of universal consciousness or a

    sort of cosmic awareness .which is perhaps what Ben means as AGI.

    And it is Ben’s view that a holistic approach

    ( that gives more weight age to life- sciences and bio- sciences than to physical sciences )

    has better chances of taking us to the singularity that Kurzweil is predicted to happen by

    2045 .

    Ben feels that we can achieve that state decades earlier , if we so will it

  • Pingback: I Am Eyeborg: Rob Spence on Singularity 1 on 1 Podcast()

  • Pingback: Global Future 2045 Congress in New York Gives 10% Off To Singularity Weblog Readers()

  • Pingback: Singularity or Bust: A Film by Raj Dye()

  • Pingback: Two Singularities()

  • Pingback: A Reader’s Response to “Hard-Wired AI: Insurance for a More Harmonious Future”()

Over 3,000 super smart people have subscribed to my newsletter: