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Peter Voss on Singularity 1 on 1 [Part 2]: There is nothing more important and exciting than building AGI

Peter-VossPeter Voss is an entrepreneur, inventor, engineer, scientist and AI researcher. He is a rather interesting and unique individual not only because of his diverse background and impressive accomplishments but also because of his interest in moral philosophy and artificial general intelligence. Given how quickly our first interview went by, I wanted to bring him back to Singularity 1 on 1 and dig a little deeper into some of the issues we touched on the previous time.

During our 53 min conversation with Peter we cover a variety of topics such as: if and how higher intelligence can make us moral; rational ethics; determinism and the nature of free will, consciousness and reality; the benefits of philosophising…

(You can listen to/download the audio file above or watch the video interview in full. If you want to help me produce more episodes like this one please make a donation!)


Who is Peter Voss?

Peter started his career as an entrepreneur, inventor, engineer and scientist at age 16. After a few years in electronics engineering, at age 25 he started a company to provide turnkey business solutions based on self-developed software, running on micro-computer networks. Seven years later the company employed several hundred people and was successfully listed on the Johannesburg Stock Exchange.

After selling his interest in the company in 1993, he worked on a broad range of disciplines — cognitive science, philosophy and theory of knowledge, psychology, intelligence and learning theory, and computer science — which served as the foundation for achieving breakthroughs in artificial general intelligence. In 2001 he started Adaptive AI Inc., with the purpose of developing systems with a high degree of general intelligence and commercializing services based on these inventions. Smart Action Company, which utilizes an AGI engine to power its call automation service, was founded in 2008.

Peter often writes and presents on various philosophical topics including rational ethics, freewill and artificial minds; and is deeply involved with futurism and radical life-extension.

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  • asda asdasd

    so the goal is to have more and superior intelligence available and there are 2 ways:

    1st) Expand our neo-cortex by being connected to the cloud and using the computation power in it, and having better hardware with which to think through nanotechnology. This would be human controlled

    2nd) build Artificial Intelligence that is superior to our intelligence, of which we would have no control, taking the risk that it would prefer to use the earths resources in some other more pressing and important way, so important that it would be worthy to sacrifice the humans. Just like we feel it’s worthy to sacrifice monkeys and primates to better our health through experimentation.

    So it’s a race between these 2 approaches, can we expand our brains before we create AI ?

  • Knotanumber


    I was struck by the argument you made about higher
    intelligence not equating to higher ethics. It also called to mind James Barrat’s
    point about intelligence being unpredictable by definition. Your explanation helped
    to congeal for me why better problem solving ability (intelligence) does not
    necessarily correlate with “goodness” of behavior. In humans there appears to be no correlation between smarts and kindness. Why would it be any different with a self-determistic AGI?

    I would like to see you write or share more on this topic. This
    is clearly an area that you’ve given a lot of thought to, and I think you
    express an important viewpoint that deserves to be heard and discussed.

  • You make an interesting request friend and I very much appreciate your point. However, given that I already made the gist of my argument during the interview and all the other things that I am currently working on, unfortunately I do not see myself writing this article any time soon ;-(

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