Tallinn-Evans $125,000 Singularity Challenge

Michael Anis­si­mov posted the fol­low­ing on the SIAI blog:

Thanks to the gen­eros­ity of two ma­jor donors; Jaan Tal­linn, a founder of Skype and Am­bi­ent Sound In­vest­ments, and Ed­win Evans, CEO of the mo­bile ap­pli­ca­tions startup Quinly, ev­ery con­tri­bu­tion to the Sin­gu­lar­ity In­sti­tute up un­til Jan­uary 20, 2011 will be matched dol­lar-for-dol­lar, up to a to­tal of $125,000.

In­ter­ested in op­ti­mal philan­thropy — that is, max­i­miz­ing the fu­ture ex­pected benefit to hu­man­ity per char­i­ta­ble dol­lar spent? The tech­nolog­i­cal cre­ation of greater-than-hu­man in­tel­li­gence has the po­ten­tial to un­leash an “in­tel­li­gence ex­plo­sion” as in­tel­li­gent sys­tems de­sign still more so­phis­ti­cated suc­ces­sors. This dy­namic could trans­form our world as greatly as the ad­vent of hu­man in­tel­li­gence has already trans­formed the Earth, for bet­ter or for worse. Think­ing ra­tio­nally about these prospects and work­ing to en­courage a fa­vor­able out­come offers an ex­traor­di­nary chance to make a differ­ence. The Sin­gu­lar­ity In­sti­tute ex­ists to do so through its re­search, the Sin­gu­lar­ity Sum­mit, and pub­lic ed­u­ca­tion.

We sup­port both di­rect en­gage­ments with the is­sues as well as the im­prove­ments in method­ol­ogy and ra­tio­nal­ity needed to make bet­ter progress. Through our Visit­ing Fel­lows pro­gram, re­searchers from un­der­grads to Ph.Ds pur­sue ques­tions on the foun­da­tions of Ar­tifi­cial In­tel­li­gence and re­lated top­ics in two-to-three month stints. Our Res­i­dent Fac­ulty, up to four re­searchers from three last year, pur­sues long-term pro­jects, in­clud­ing AI re­search, a liter­a­ture re­view, and a book on ra­tio­nal­ity, the first draft of which was just com­pleted. Sin­gu­lar­ity In­sti­tute re­searchers and rep­re­sen­ta­tives gave over a dozen pre­sen­ta­tions at half a dozen con­fer­ences in 2010. Our Sin­gu­lar­ity Sum­mit con­fer­ence in San Fran­cisco was a great suc­cess, bring­ing to­gether over 600 at­ten­dees and 22 top sci­en­tists and other speak­ers to ex­plore cut­ting-edge is­sues in tech­nol­ogy and sci­ence.

We are pleased to re­ceive dona­tion match­ing sup­port this year from Ed­win Evans of the United States, a long-time Sin­gu­lar­ity In­sti­tute donor, and Jaan Tal­linn of Es­to­nia, a more re­cent donor and sup­porter. Jaan re­cently gave a talk on the Sin­gu­lar­ity and his life at a en­trepreneurial group in Fin­land. Here’s what Jaan has to say about us:

“We be­came the dom­i­nant species on this planet by be­ing the most in­tel­li­gent species around. This cen­tury we are go­ing to cede that crown to ma­chines. After we do that, it will be them steer­ing his­tory rather than us. Since we have only one shot at get­ting the tran­si­tion right, the im­por­tance of SIAI’s work can­not be over­es­ti­mated. Not find­ing any or­gani­sa­tion to take up this challenge as se­ri­ously as SIAI on my side of the planet, I con­clude that it’s worth fol­low­ing them across 10 time zones.”
– Jaan Tal­linn, Sin­gu­lar­ity In­sti­tute donor

Make a last­ing im­pact on the long-term fu­ture of hu­man­ity to­day — make a dona­tion to the Sin­gu­lar­ity In­sti­tute and help us reach our $125,000 goal. For more de­tailed in­for­ma­tion on our pro­jects and work, con­tact us at in­sti­tute@in­tel­li­gence.org or read our new or­ga­ni­za­tional overview.


Kaj’s com­men­tary: if you haven’t done so re­cently, do check out the SIAI pub­li­ca­tions page. There are sev­eral new pa­pers and pre­sen­ta­tions, out of which I thought that Carl Shul­man’s Whole Brain Emu­la­tions and the Evolu­tion of Su­per­or­ganisms made for par­tic­u­larly fas­ci­nat­ing (and scary) read­ing. SIAI’s fi­nally start­ing to get its pa­per-writ­ing ma­chin­ery into gear, so let’s give them money to make that pos­si­ble. There’s also a static page about this challenge; if you’re on Face­book, please take the time to “like” it there.

(Full dis­clo­sure: I was an SIAI Visit­ing Fel­low in April-July 2010.)