I'm not saying any of this is inevitable, just that it looks like a highly plausible course of development. I see no good reason, at this stage, why things COULDN'T progress in this manner. The Novamente design and the virtual world environment seem sufficient to support it. So let's try it and see what happens -- keeping a very careful eye out for ethical gotchas along the way, of course. This is what we plan on doing with Novamente LLC, assuming funding holds up and all the business aspects as well as the technical aspects work out. Which they seem to be doing, at the moment.
MLU: For the benefit of readers who may be unfamiliar with the term, Singularity here refers to the hypothesized creation -- usually by AI or brain-computer interfaces -- of smarter-than-human entities who rapidly accelerate technological progress beyond the capability of human beings to participate meaningfully in that progress.
A common problem with AI architecture is that there are typically many different learning algorithms written to handle the wide variety of cognitive processes, and they tend to "blow-up" when combined. You've used this fact to argue that whole AI systems should be designed, rather than separate components. Can you elaborate on this problem, and discuss your solution?
BG: Well, that's really a very technical question. It's hard to answer without going into an awful lot of detail. But Novamente does contain three key cognitive algorithms:
- Probabilistic Logic Networks (PLN), which will be described in a book coming out in 2008 published by Springer. This is a logic engine that for the first time combines probability theory and formal logic in a systematic and coherent way.
- MOSES, which synthesizes evolutionary theory and probability theory to enable very efficient learning of computer programs based on specifications. This started out as Moshe Look's PhD thesis (see metacog.org) but has already grown a fair bit beyond there.
- Economic attention allocation, a novel approach to deciding which pieces of knowledge and which procedures inside the Novamente system's mind deserve attention at any particular point in time.
And the point regarding integrative design and combinatorial explosion is that each of these algorithms, on itself,
A) would in principle be enough to lead to a thinking machine.
B) in practice, given a realistic amount of computational resources, would never be adequate to lead to a thinking machine, because as you feed them more and more complex problems, the amount of resources they use would scale up exponentially. This is called a combinatorial explosion, because as problems get more complex, the number of combinations of factors involved in them gets bigger exponentially....