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Machines Like Us

Machines Like Us interviews: Hugo de Garis

Monday, 03 September 2007

Hugo de Garis is professor of computer science and mathematical physics at Wuhan University, China, where he migrated in 2006. He was formerly an associate professor of Computer Science at Utah State University, Utah, USA. His research area is “artificial brains,” a research area that he has largely pioneered.

He has lived in 7 countries and is the author of the following books:

a) The Artilect War: Cosmists vs. Terrans: A Bitter Controversy Concerning Whether Humanity Should Build Godlike Massively Intelligent Machines, Etc Books, 2005. A Chinese version of this book appeared in 2007.

b) Multis and Monos: What the Multi-Cultured Can Teach the Mono-Cultured: Towards the Creation of a Global State, (finished writing, August 2007, looking for a publisher).

c) Artificial Brains: An Evolved Neural Net Module Approach (being written 2007-2008, to be published by World Scientific in 2009).

Contact:
Prof. Dr. Hugo de Garisprofhugodegaris@yahoo.com

Interview conducted by Norm Nason.

MLU: Welcome, Hugo. So nice to have you with us.

HDG: Thanks for interviewing me. I think your site will become very popular, because you have filled it with interesting people. I spent several hours with it the first time I learned about it.

MLU: You have lived in many countries for extended periods of time, and are in a unique position to compare and contrast the technological prowess of various developed nations. Until recently you lived and worked in Japan for eight years, where a lot of effort is being exerted toward building robots capable of helping their large, aging population. Now you live in China, with their incredible 10% annual economic growth rate, and have predicted that it will overtake the US as an economic power some time before the middle of this century -- siphoning off top US researchers by offering superior pay and benefits. Will China be the first to develop human-level artificial intelligence?

HDG: It depends not only on whether China can attract the most talented AI researchers in the world to come to China, but more critically on whether it can KEEP them long term. Japan had its opportunity in the 1990s, when large numbers of western researchers (including myself) moved there to live. Now very few remain. Japan failed the “foreigner friendly” test. It is possible, but not certain by any means, that China might do the same, starting about a decade from now.