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I should mention that the NIPS '08 papers aren't on line yet, but all previous conferences do have the papers, tutorials, slides, background material, etc. on line. For example here's last year.

The arguments Eliezer describes are made, and his reactions are fair. But really the actual research community "grew out" of most of this stuff a while back. CYC and the "common sense" efforts were always a sideshow (in terms of research money and staff, not to mention results). Neural networks w...(read more)

Regarding serial vs. parallel:

The effect on progress is indirect and as a result hard to figure out with confidence.

We have gradually learned how to get nearly linear speedups from large numbers of cores. We can now manage linear speedups over dozens of cores for fairly structured computations,...(read more)

I'll try to estimate as requested, but substituting fixed computing power for "riding the curve" (as Intel does now) is a bit of an apples to fruit cocktail comparison, so I'm not sure how useful it is. A more direct comparison would be with always having a computing infrastructure from 10 years in...(read more)

I did work at Intel, and two years of that was in the process engineering area (running the AI lab, perhaps ironically).

The short answer is that more computing power leads to more rapid progress. Probably the relationship is close to linear, and the multiplier is not small.

Two examples:<ul><li>...(read more)

On the one hand, Eliezer is right in terms of historical and technical specifics.

On the other hand neural networks for many are a metoynym for continuous computations vs. the discrete computations of logic. This was my reaction when the two PDP volumes came out in the 80s. It wasn't "Here's the ...(read more)

The "500 bits" only works if you take a hidden variable or Bohmian position on quantum mechanics. If (as the current consensus would say) non-linear dynamics can amplify quantum noise then enormous amounts of new information are being "produced" locally everywhere all the time. The current state o...(read more)

Poke's comment is interesting and I agree with his / her discussion of cultural evolution. But it also is possible to turn this point around to indicate a possible sweet spot in the fitness landscape that we are probably approaching. Conversely, however, I think the character of this sweet spot in...(read more)

I largely agree with Robin's point that smaller incremental steps are necessary.

But Eliezer's point about big jumps deserves a reply. The transitions to humans and to atomic bombs do indicate something to think about -- and for that matter, so does the emergence of computers.

These all seem to m...(read more)

PK, Phil Goetz, and Larry D'Anna are making a crucial point here but I'm afraid it is somewhat getting lost in the noise. The point is (in my words) that lookup tables are a philosophical red herring. To emulate a human being they can't just map external inputs to external outputs. They also have...(read more)