Eliezer has been heavily occupied with Overcoming BIas, Less Wrong, and his book for the last several years, in part to recruit a more substantial team for this.

Eliezer's investment into OB/LW apparently hasn't returned even a single full-time FAI researcher for SIAI after several years (although a few people are almost certainly doing more and better FAI-related research than if the Sequences didn't happen). Has this met SIAI's initial expectations? Do you guys think we're at the beginning of a snowball effect, or has OB/LW pretty much done as much as it can, as far as creating/recruiting FAI researchers is concerned? What are your current expectations for the book in this regard?

I have informally been probing smart people I meet whether they're aware of LW. The answers have been surprisingly high number of 'Yes'. I expect this is already making impact on, at the very least, a less risky distribution of funding sources, and probably a good increase in funding once some of them (as many are in startups) will hit paydirt.

11CarlShulman9yI have noticed increasing numbers of very talented math and CS folk expressing interest or taking actions showing significant commitment. A number of them are currently doing things like PhD programs in AI. However, there hasn't been much of a core FAI team and research program to assimilate people into. Current plans are for Eliezer to switch back to full time AI after his book, with intake of more folk into that research program. Given the mix of people in the extended SIAI community, I am pretty confident that with abundant funding a team of pretty competent researchers (with at least some indicators like PhDs from the top AI/CS programs, 1 in 100,000 or better performance on mathematics contests, etc) could be mustered over time, based on people I already know. I am less confident that a team can be assembled with so much world-class talent that it is a large fraction of the quality-adjusted human capital applied to AGI, without big gains in recruiting (e.g. success with the rationality book or communication on AI safety issues, better staff to drive recruiting, a more attractive and established team to integrate newcomers, relevant celebrity endorsements, etc). The Manhattan Project had 21 then- or future Nobel laureates. AI, and certainly FAI, are currently getting a much, much smaller share of world scientific talent than nukes did, so that it's easier for a small team to loom large, but it seems to me like there is still a lot of ground to be covered to recruit a credibly strong FAI team.
8XiXiDu9yI believe that the SIAI has has been very successful in using OB/LW to not only rise awareness of risks from AI but to lend credence to the idea. From the very beginning I admired that feat. Eliezer Yudkowsky's homepage is a perfect example of its type [http://yudkowsky.net/rational/virtues]. Just imagine he would have concentrated solely on spreading the idea of risks from AI and the necessity of a friendliness theory. Without any background relating to business or an academic degree, to many people he would appear to be yet another crackpot spreading prophecies of doom. But someone who is apparently well-versed in probability theory, who studied cognitive biases and tries to refine the art of rationality? Someone like that can't possible be deluded enough to hold some complex beliefs that are completely unfounded, there must be more to it. That's probably the biggest public relations stunt in the history of marketing extraordinary ideas.

Q&A with new Executive Director of Singularity Institute

by lukeprog 1 min read7th Nov 2011182 comments


Today I was appointed the new Executive Director of Singularity Institute.

Because I care about transparency, one of my first projects as an intern was to begin work on the organization's first Strategic Plan. I researched how to write a strategic plan, tracked down the strategic plans of similar organizations, and met with each staff member, progressively iterating the document until it was something everyone could get behind.

I quickly learned why there isn't more of this kind of thing: transparency is a lot of work! 100+ hours of work later, plus dozens of hours from others, and the strategic plan was finally finished and ratified by the board. It doesn't accomplish much by itself, but it's one important stepping stone in building an organization that is more productive, more trusted, and more likely to help solve the world's biggest problems.

I spent two months as a researcher, and was then appointed Executive Director.

In further pursuit of transparency, I'd like to answer (on video) submitted questions from the Less Wrong community just as Eliezer did two years ago.


The Rules

1) One question per comment (to allow voting to carry more information about people's preferences).

2) Try to be as clear and concise as possible. If your question can't be condensed into one paragraph, you should probably ask in a separate post. Make sure you have an actual question somewhere in there (you can bold it to make it easier to scan).

3) I will generally answer the top-voted questions, but will skip some of them. I will tend to select questions about Singularity Institute as an organization, not about the technical details of some bit of research. You can read some of the details of the Friendly AI research program in my interview with Michael Anissimov.

4) If you reference certain things that are online in your question, provide a link.

5) This thread will be open to questions and votes for 7 days, at which time I will decide which questions to begin recording video responses for.


I might respond to certain questions within the comments thread and not on video; for example, when there is a one-word answer.