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How to prevent AI from ‘annihilating humanity’ using blockchain – Cointelegraph Magazine

Published on

January 19, 2023
Read Time:14 Minute, 58 Second

When he’s not engaged on hastening humanity’s rush towards the Singularity by creating a synthetic common intelligence (AGI), Ben Goertzel performs in a jazz-rock band known as Jam Galaxy fronted by a robotic named Desdemona.

It’s one in every of his many facet initiatives, which naturally led him to try to tokenize the music enterprise by reaching out to members of Pearl Jam and Coronary heart. Goertzel can also be engaged on longevity analysis by crowdsourcing human well being knowledge with token rewards by way of an app known as That data is then pooled with animal and bug examine knowledge and analyzed with an AI to find out which components of the genomes could make us stay longer after which stimulated utilizing gene therapies. “We’ve had some fairly putting breakthrough-level discoveries,” he says. Oh, and simply earlier than our hour-long interview winds up, he casually mentions as an apart that he’s additionally making a stablecoin for his decentralized AI market, Singularity.web, that’s pegged to an artificial index of environmental progress — as a result of pegging it to U.S. {dollars} can be “lame.” 

“Progress on the atmosphere could be very secure. It by no means goes anyplace,” he factors out.

“And to control this, it's important to really remedy world warming.”

It’s the precise type of political remark meets high-tech know-how you may anticipate from Goertzel, who seems and appears like a hippie scientist who stumbled right into a time machine in 1971 and emerged totally shaped in 2023. However don’t be fooled by the animal print hat, lengthy hair and Electrical Kool-Assist acid journey drawl: He’s an excellent scientist with a grasp of the longer term mild years forward of most and who’s grappling with a few of the largest ideas humanity has ever thought-about. What's consciousness? How can we create synthetic life, and what occurs if it doesn’t like us, goes rogue, and weapons all people down like in Terminator 2?

Ben Goertzel (left) and Jam Galaxy fronted by Desdemona the Robot (second left)Ben Goertzel (left) and Jam Galaxy fronted by Desdemona the Robotic (second left).

What's synthetic common intelligence?

Goertzel popularized the time period “synthetic common intelligence” as a solution to differentiate a real pondering machine that would study just about something, to AIs which might be optimized for one specific process, just like the Deep Blue pc that famously beat world chess champion Garry Kasparov. He freely concedes there are dangers in constructing a machine that’s able to studying something and all the things, together with the right way to reprogram itself to change into an order of magnitude extra clever than any human.

“There’s plenty of dangers and risks with AGI,” says Goertzel over the din at an Indian restaurant in a busy buying heart in Singapore. “Considered one of them that’s gotten a variety of media consideration is that AGI will run amok and annihilate humanity and take over the universe. It’s completely doable; you'll be able to’t rule it out,” he says.

“One other extra possible threat is that nasty egocentric folks will use AI to exert their very own greed and management over different folks.”

In his view, governments are unlikely to make breakthroughs in AGI as they're “too conservative and silly,” although he notes China contracts out its AGI work to firms like Tencent and Baidu. Nearer to house, he thinks Google and Fb’s AI divisions gained’t recover from the road both, as they’ll be too centered on making the AI hit sure metrics, which isn't conducive to artistic thought. 

“Similar to probably the most good folks don’t wish to merely serve another person’s metrics, I feel synthetic common intelligence doesn’t essentially wish to maximize click-through on somebody’s internet web page both, proper? It’s bought to be allowed to mess around creatively.”

Treat your AGI nicely or it’ll end in tearsDeal with your AGI properly or it’ll finish in tears. Supply: Terminator 2

The Singularity circa 1970

Goertzel began college at 15, graduated at 18, had a doctorate by 22 and a younger household by 23. Maybe unusually these days, he wasn’t only a math whiz or tech genius who soldered equipment computer systems collectively within the ‘70s however was equally considering philosophy, artistic writing and music.

He spent a lot of his profession instructing and researching pc science, arithmetic and cognitive science at varied universities across the globe whereas engaged on AI tech at any time when he may. A serial founder who tends to be a couple of decade forward of everybody else together with his concepts — which, in enterprise, famously equates to being improper — he’s labored on utilizing AI to foretell monetary markets and longevity, and he’s additionally had a stint because the chief scientist of Hanson Robotics, the place he gave Sophia the Robotic her synthetic mind.

Goertzel’s been enthusiastic about exponential technological progress because the Seventies when he first learn Gerald Feinberg’s The Prometheus Undertaking, which is about “machines that may suppose higher than folks… nanotechnology machines which might be microscopically small, and we’re going to unravel getting old.” This dovetailed properly with the rising idea of the Singularity, a hypothetical future level when technological advances change into uncontrollable and irreversible, leading to huge adjustments to human civilization. 

A tattered copy of The Prometheus ProjectA tattered copy of The Prometheus Undertaking. Supply: Web Archive

“So, folks will stay ceaselessly, then the query will probably be, What can we use these applied sciences for, speedy senseless consumerism, or can we use it to broaden consciousness? And what he [Feinberg] proposed is to place that to a democratic vote.”

Years later, when he started to see AGI was inside our grasp, this “democratic vote” grew to become the inspiration to first use open-source expertise and, afterward, blockchain as a solution to put a cooperative group answerable for the expertise.

“What I spotted at a sure level is, with AI, having the code open isn’t sufficient,” he says. “You actually need to coach the AI on a shitload of information.”

“That is the place blockchain comes as a solution to make the processing and the info underlying AI decentralized and crowdsourced in nature and open in management. And that seems to be trickier than simply open-sourcing the code.”

Goertzel based OpenCog in 2008 to construct an open-source, crowd-sourced synthetic intelligence framework. It’s been utilized by 50 firms, together with Huawei and Cisco, and is ready for a serious improve quickly known as Hyperon that goals to speed up it by 200 occasions. The alpha model is due this quarter with the beta anticipated subsequent 12 months. 

Blockchain is fundamental however cool

To Goertzel, blockchain expertise is a bit fundamental. He describes it as some primitive distributed algorithms added to cryptography, however the “cool mixture” allows techniques to run with out centralized management, making it good for his wants.

“If you'll make a pondering machine and you'll make it distributed nanoscale computing cloth, it could be very good if this was owned by everybody and nobody quite than managed prime down.”

Blockchains are far too sluggish to cope with the processing necessities and large volumes of information concerned, so there’s one thing of a race to correctly scale blockchain earlier than a breakthrough AGI is developed. Goertzel says that whereas scaling options akin to zero-knowledge rollups are higher, they nonetheless don’t have sufficient bandwidth as a result of limitations of the blockchain to which they report transactions.

He co-founded Singularity.web in 2017, which is each a decentralized market for AI companies and expertise and a blockchain-based coordination technique for researchers — and even AIs — to work collectively.

Presently, based mostly on Ethereum, he thinks he’s pushed issues about so far as they will go on blockchain in its present kind. So, when he’s not engaged on a breakthrough in AGI (or the band, or robots, or longevity), he’s engaged on massively scaling blockchain to offer it the throughput required.

“Except you'll be able to radically improve the scalability of blockchain, you'll be able to’t put the inside workings of the AI on-chain.”

My dad @tedgoertzel dug up this clipping from 1961 (5 yrs pre-me) when he was co-chair of SLAM, the Scholar League In opposition to Mortality, a pupil org w/ goal of abolishing demise. Even had some proto-Kurzweilian quantitative trend-forecasting in there! Early roots of @Rejuve_AI

— Ben Goertzel (@bengoertzel) December 24, 2022

AI is nearer than you suppose

2022 was one thing of a breakthrough 12 months for working merchandise based mostly on AI expertise, together with language functions (GPT-3, ChatGPT), coding (GitHub Copilot) and picture technology (DALL-E and Secure Diffusion). Bing even plans to tackle Google’s search dominance this 12 months by incorporating ChatGPT tech into its search engine.

Goertzel thinks an AGI might be as little as 5 years away and notes developments within the subject appear to go in brief three- or four-year bursts in a collection of breakthroughs.

“Laptop Imaginative and prescient began in 2014, after which rapidly, bang, bang, bang, the thriller was solved. Pure language processing… after Google got here up with the Bert mannequin (in 2018) you had GPT-3. You'll in all probability see the identical arc of progress in AGI. You’ll have one breakthrough, then a substantial amount of progress for 2 years,” he stated.

“The distinction being the breakthrough progress, in that case, ends in a machine that may then proceed to progress itself by rewriting its personal code.”

Goertzel hopes the initiatives and collaborations he’s set in movement might be the way it happens.

“If we’re fortunate, we’ll obtain that breakthrough within the subsequent three to 5 years with OpenCog Hyperon working on Singularity.web working on Hypercycle,” he says. “But when we don’t prove to have the key sauce, someone else will.”

Magazine caught up with Ben Goertzel in SingaporeJournal caught up with Ben Goertzel in Singapore. Supply: Andrew Fenton

Pity Vitalik wasn’t a pc scientist

Goertzel’s answer to scaling the blockchain is fairly radical and entails turbo-charging a sidechain or layer 2 of Cardano known as “HyperCyle.”

“It truly is greater than a sidechain. HyperCycle will cooperate with Ethereum and different blockchains as effectively, however we’re gonna use the Plutus interpreter there, however we’re eliminating the ledger.”

He has described HyperCycle on-line as fixing the “blockchain trilemma” of “decentralization vs. safety vs. efficiency by eliminating the ledger and utilizing extra fashionable/totally decentralized algos and knowledge buildings, plus a little bit of AI and repute techniques.”

The ledger is on the coronary heart of blockchain tech, however he says getting each node within the community to copy every transaction and course of each sensible contract is ludicrously inefficient.

“The ledger is simply unhealthy. If you consider it, if you consider the analogy of your contacts in your phonebook, I imply, the ledger is like […] protecting 10,000 copies of Yellow Pages, and also you’re updating them each time somebody new comes or if someone adjustments their cellphone quantity. It’s actually silly to replace 10,000 copies of the Yellow Pages.”

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Within the HyperCycle model of the analogy, as an alternative of everybody storing and updating the Phone book, the folks in your contact e book retailer a duplicate of your tackle e book, and vice versa, encrypted together with your personal key.

“We found out the right way to make blockchain work and not using a replicating ledger, so to shard all the best way down. Each particular person engaged within the blockchain retains their very own transaction historical past and retains the transaction historical past of their buddies and a few of their buddies’ buddies,” he says.

“Sharding all the best way down, you don’t want a ledger — you don’t want a database desk. This stuff are method too centralized.”

He says some proof-of-concept HyperCycle nodes are already operational, however a full-scale launch gained’t occur till the second half of 2024.

We spend a very long time discussing the varied deserves of various approaches to blockchain, from Web Laptop to Elastos and Celestia, a lot of which is above my pay grade and past the aptitude of my recording gadget to precisely seize in a loud restaurant.

He concludes by saying, “So, I simply really feel like none of those architectures are radical sufficient. They’re all sticking too near Bitcoin.”

“So long as you’re working each sensible contract on each node, I imply, it’s going to be insanely sluggish. Now, in HyperCycle, for those who run a wise contract on 5 nodes, at the very least it’s solely 5 occasions as sluggish as on one machine — it’s not 10,000 occasions slower.”

Why Cardano, then?

Goertzel has change into pleasant with Cardano founder Charles Hoskinson, with the pair bonding over their initiatives in Africa. He believes Hoskinson is “genuinely on the market to save lots of the world. I imply, politically he’s extra of a hardcore libertarian than I'm — I’m extra of an anarcho-socialist — however he isn’t simply in it to earn cash or fleece different folks out of their cash.”

However the actual enchantment of Cardano is that it makes use of the Haskell programming language, which Goertzel has been a fan of since 1993. It pains him enormously that Ethereum co-founder Vitalik Buterin went with Gavin Wooden’s sensible contract programming language Solidity.

“If solely Vitalik had recognized extra pc science, he would have made them use Haskell or F Sharp or one thing, and there’d be far fewer hacks of the blockchain,” he says.

“For those who’re going to be working many of the world’s economic system, buying and selling trillions of {dollars} on some software program system, you'd be higher off to construct that software program system in a language that's not susceptible to bugs and the place your algorithms may be formally verified utilizing a mathematical concept. It’s simply the best solution to do issues.”

Cease-gap answer

Irrespective of how briskly blockchain will get, as quickly because the AGI is an order of magnitude smarter and extra succesful than people are, Goertzel says it’s not going to let anybody management it. 

“When an AGI is 100 occasions smarter than folks, it doesn’t wish to be managed by us, as we wouldn’t be managed by a chimpanzee or a donkey, proper?”

“Then I might say the query isn’t one in every of us controlling it, the query is: Is it effectively disposed to us? Will it let folks regulate their very own enterprise and provide us with cool instruments and nano assemblers to 3D print all of the stuff that we would like and remedy our illnesses?”

“However the transition interval when the AGI is across the identical intelligence as folks, that’s when issues are extra sensitive and extra attention-grabbing. And the query is then: Does the AGI wish to cooperate with folks? Or is it paranoid and needs to regulate folks earlier than they destroy it?”

Educate your kids effectively

In Goertzel’s opinion, the answer is to show the AGI about caring for others and about creativity and artwork. That’s the place Desdemona the Robotic in his band, and her sister Grace — who's designed to offer elder care — are available.

The way in which you keep away from an AGI turning into Terminator’s Skynet is to not construct it that method within the first place.

“Skynet, after all, within the film was a pc safety community that ran amok. It was created to defend itself towards folks,” he says. 

“However for those who construct the primary AGI to do with elder care and inventive arts and training because it will get smarter, it is going to be oriented towards serving to folks and creating cool stuff. For those who construct the primary AGI to kill the unhealthy guys… maybe it should maintain doing these issues.”

“So, useful or not, it actually comes right down to what functions you’ve developed and what you’ve incentivized for.”

He believes that placing AIs into robotic our bodies is useful as a result of it helps situate them in the actual world, quite than some summary mathematical universe.

Sophia the Robot has her own metaverse platform launching soonSophia the Robotic has her personal metaverse platform launching quickly. (Supply: Sophiaverse)

“AI ought to study in regards to the human world and the bodily world. Being embodied on the planet is the best method to try this,” he says.

However when he presents Sophia the Robotic to an enormous viewers, the visible and auditory sensors may be simply overwhelming, complicated the AI in a loud and shiny atmosphere. So, Sophia will probably be launching quickly within the metaverse, known as Sophiaverse. Neglect ChatGPT’s boring text-based solutions, Sophia is embodied in a 3D digital world, and he or she’ll study from interacting with folks there. Nonetheless, he cautions she in all probability will say some dumb issues.

“It has a neural web just like GPT-3 and so forth, which have important facility to reply your questions, however they’re additionally fairly silly in some methods.”


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Andrew Fenton

Primarily based in Melbourne, Andrew Fenton is a journalist and editor overlaying cryptocurrency and blockchain. He has labored as a nationwide leisure author for Information Corp Australia, on SA Weekend as a movie journalist, and at The Melbourne Weekly.

Comply with the creator @andrewfenton

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Azeez Mustafa
Azeez began his FinTech career path in 2008 after growing interest and intrigue about market wizards and how they managed to become victorious on the battlefield of the financial world. After a decade of learning, reading and training the ins and outs of the industry, he’s now a sought after trading professional, technical/currency analyst and funds manager – as well as an author.
Last Updated : January 19, 2023
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