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.)

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