An AGI Sputnik moment is a term coined by Ben Goertzel during a 2011 interview. It describes a moment when some project or program makes an impressive demonstration of AGI and convinces the general public and private entitites of its feasibility. The author proposes that if that moment happens somewhere soon, the funding and investment in AGI development through computer science that would ensue would make it surpass other approaches, such as brain simulation.
The phrase refers to the successful launching of the Russian satellite Sputnik, which demonstrated the possibility of space technology to the public. This event triggered the ensuing space race between the United States and the Soviet Union, leading to long-term funding of space projects from both governments. The analogy is not meant to imply government funding for AGI, only that the event convinces non-specialists of the practicality of AGI. Goertzel expressed desire towards this type of demonstration as a method of gaining funding for OpenCog, his AGI project.
Goertzel and Pitt have also emphasized the role of an AGI Sputnik moment in AGI development regulation. Their idea is that such a moment would mark the beginning of a rapid developmental progress, which would render any future regulation attempt futile or dangerous. As such, more effort should be put in developing research -- especially open research -- regarding AGI safety before such moment occurs.