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Peter Voss on Singularity 1 on 1: Having more intelligence will be good for mankind!

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 intelligence. I have been planning to interview Voss for a while and, given how quickly our discussion went by, I will do my best to bring him again to Singularity 1 on 1.

During our 1-hour-long conversation with Peter we cover a variety of topics such as: his excitement in pursuing a dream that others have failed to accomplish for the past 50 years; whether we are rational or irrational animals; utility curves and the motivation of AGI; the importance of philosophy and ethics; Bertrand Russel and Ayn Rand; his companies A2I2 and Smart Action; his [revised] optimism and timeline for building AGI; the Turing Test and the importance of asking questions; Our Final Invention and friendly AI; intelligence and morality…

(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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  • connor1231

    I’m posting this question on a few articles because I’m hoping someone will see it and have an answer.

    My main concern with future technology is it’s unequal distribution, where poor don’t get it, and an “underclass” forms of unenhanced humans. Ive seen this question posed on many blogs and websites, and I have only ever found brief and unconvincing answers. So my question is this: let’s assume that future technology is not equally distributed. I know some people will claim that with coming technology, scarcity will disappear and it will be widespread and cheap, blah blah but for a moment let’s assume that doesn’t happen. After all, we can see today what a poor job the government does in equally distributing resources, look at the gap between rich and poor that is only growing. In a future with a wealthy elite upper class who can afford to enhance themselves, and a poor underclass of unenhanced humans, how would a poor person work his way into the enhanced class? Would social mobility even still exist? Menial jobs that may help someone work and save money today probably won’t exist in a century. And education might not be as valuable: what would an educated poor person do to compete with a wealthy individual with brain implants and smart pills and other forms of cognition-boosting tech.

    In this world, how would a member of the underclass possibly work their way up so they could enhance themselves? Or are they doomed to feed on the crumbs of the enhanced humans forever. That is a scary thought to me.

  • xenophone

    Great discussion, and I’m sure there’s a lot of value in his work.

    I was floored however, to hear him say things like, the problem of consciousness is solved or not a problem. I guess that tends to be a computer scientist stance (bias?). But general AI within 9 years? We’ll solve aging/death long before we figure out consciousness.

  • I feel the same way Xenophone. That’s why I had to do a follow up interview and press him further on those points. Stay tuned because it is coming within the next few days 😉

  • xenophone

    Can’t wait to hear it!

  • David Rooke

    I actually suspect consciousness is not the roadblock many portray and may even be a sideshow. IMO, consciousness is a conceptual thought space and I would argue that computers are equipped with the basis of that right now. If you let go of the idea that consciousness has to operate as ours does then that idea becomes easier to accept.
    Who says we need to reverse engineer every aspect of the working of the human brain to make such and idea real? I detect hubris in such a notion.

  • Towards the very end of the episode he says that there’s data showing that in every measure humanity is getting better… I’d love to see this!

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

  • Wholewitt

    IBM has 3000 scientists working on AGI (Watson apps).

  • It depends how you define AGI friend. Peter would likely disagree that Watson is true AGI, just like Marvin Minsky and Noam Chomsky did…

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